Courtesy of St Johns College, Hastings

St Johns College has been successfully implementing and embedding a unique structure of project work – which is interdisciplinary and students undertake in their own time outside of class. The work involves social enterprise, HYDRA program, and the National Poverty Index. There is a growing consensus internationally that the quality of group work within schools will become defining characteristics of educational institutions in the future. The approach at St Johns College has been amazingly successful and continues to growth with engagement this year with mental health consumers, developing of George – ‘high technology’ machine to record real time water information, and an exploration of water integrity and quality in the region, national and internationally.

Based on last year’s project results, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO had short listed the College for two of its three national awards. Unfortunately we missed out on achieving one of the three national awards.

The Judges’ comments received included:

“the panel strongly supports the kaupapa of your project….it is clear that you truly understand and value project based learning, and we hope your approach can be embedded in the school more widely.”

The National Commission wanted to fully recognized St John College remarkable achievements and as such as provided the College with its ‘Highly Commended’ status and will issue an award to that effect, and the Commission will recognize this status in all its communications both domestically and internationally. In sum, the Commission is planning to show case our projects, and “promote the good work you and your students are doing”.

Our project work wouldn’t be possible without students giving up their lunch and home time to make a difference, and teachers prepared to work outside of class time on various aspects of project work including Conor Bolton, Kim Pickering, Medwyn Popplewell, and David Ivory.

Looking ahead, the College is currently working on some extraordinary project work initiatives which we believe will positively impact our community and be a role model to other schools of what is possible.