Wellbeing pivotal to Hukarere Girls’ College’s lockdown success

Educational needs as well as the mental and physical wellbeing of Hukarere Girls’ College students has been at the heart of a comprehensive Covid-19 alert level plan.

Tumuaki Shona West said they were determined their ākonga (students) and their hauora and learning journey would not be compromised at all.

Anticipating any anxiety that the sudden change in routine could cause, the school leadership, along with its hostel manager and supervisors, quickly put their COVID-19 preparedness plan into action, with Sir Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā model at the fore.

“We were first and foremost, open, honest, and transparent with our community. We recognized that many were facing their own personal challenges,” says Mrs West.

“The continual reiteration of message from management to teachers, students and whānau is that they can only do what is possible within the context that they live in, and they are not to worry about what they are not able to do.”

Mrs West says te mihingare, the special character of the college under the umbrella of the Anglican Church, also played a pivotal role in ensuring the wellbeing of their ākonga.

With Alert Level 4 restrictions meaning they were unable to have boarders at their hostel who could return home safely, management stepped in to support whānau by transporting their girls back.

“We ensured that our school community received their online learning guide and our strong community rallied to deliver what was required to ensure ease with learning and teaching.”
Stephanie Clifton, Deputy Principal – Curriculum, said their online learning plan did not require a “design-from-scratch approach”.

“Our kaiwhakaako and kohine were fully prepared for an online learning curriculum and a requirement to operate with a rearranged academic calendar.”

In fact, they had developed a COVID-19 preparedness strategy whereby staff had been trained in an online platform, and students were linked to their virtual classrooms which they had already been using.

“We practised it with our classes. We took time to reflect and modify our plans, putting together a whole school approach so that kaiwhakaako and our girls would receive supported learning whilst being online.”
In the early days of lockdown, they set a three-day timetable in action, moving to a four-day timetable with an additional directed-study day.

“We planned our OHU mentors to be “Live” every morning to give real life support and contact. Our hostel team supported this further with a holistic hauora approach via a zoom session in the afternoon,” Mrs Clifton says.

With the move to Alert Level 2, the kura will see the senior students (Year 11 to Year 13) return, while those in years 9 and 10 will remain at home and continue with their online learning programme.

Mrs West said this will ensure their senior students were able to meet the requirements of NCEA.

“Every subject teacher will work with the students to reach their targets in NCEA, and we believe this is best achieved if the senior students are physically present at school.”

“If any good can come out of COVID-19, it is that the Hukarere community is well and truly united.”