Taupo-nui-a-Tia College is a co-ed college with a roll of 900. The college has implemented intentional character education since 2003. Prior to that the college had encouraged the development of character in its students but had no coherent approach. The Cornerstone Values approach to character education provided a systematic approach to character education.
Since 2003 cornerstone values – respect, responsibility, honesty, consideration, compassion, obedience, kindness, obedience and duty [obligation] – have been entwined into the fabric of the school organization. Each of these values have been intentionally taught and modelled. Over time these eight core values have become the default for decision making by students and staff.
Intentional character education has resulted in a significant change in the culture of the college.
- Petty offences, like smoking in groups during breaks on the field, once rife are now rare
- Lost property, mobile phones, for example, are more often than not, handed in
- The quality of relationships between students and between students and staff is now exceptional
- It is a pleasure for staff to do duty
- Visitors to the school comment on the positive warm atmosphere
- A visitor from the Ministry of Education observed,
Students opened doors for me – that doesn’t often happen in the schools I visit
- Students willingly seek help from teachers
- University Entrance passes are above the national average and are slowly rising
- Student’s openly talk about the ‘Nui way’ and accept that kindness, compassion, consideration, responsibility, respect, honesty, obedience, duty are realistic and important way of living
- When Year 9 students enter the college they see older students and the staff modelling the eight cornerstone values
- The principal and senior staff communicate a consistent and genuine message that they care about everyone in the college
- Qualities like kindness are celebrated and not mocked by students – every second year when the focus is on kindness the ‘wall of kindness’ is smothered with notes from staff and students
The senior staff at Taupo nui-a-Tia College believes that the college encourages and develops excellent qualities of character in its students. They do not claim that it is perfect but that progress is incremental and relentless.
Michael Drake who has taught at the college since 1968 observes,
Taupo nui-a-Tia is a great school to be a teacher at, and according to most students, a great school to be a student at. The school culture is responsible, respectful, and joyful. Achievement and character are celebrated.
The Education Review Office’s latest report on Taupo nui-a-Tia College includes the statement:
The well-respected principal together with senior managers has established a school culture where the expectation is that ‘all students will achieve and experience learning success’. A feature of the school is the ongoing development of a curriculum that is responsive to the varied learning interests and aspirations of students.