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Kia Ora, Talofa, Malo e Lelei, Namaste and Welcome to the Rutherford College English Department

Welcome to the Rutherford College English department. Our priority is to make English fully inclusive by welcoming all students and ensuring that success is attained by all. This is done by high expectations being placed on all students.

To enable all students to have genuine opportunities to achieve to the best of their ability, we have integrated all courses and programmes. As a result any student who joins us in Year 9 will return fully equipped in Year 13 if s/he chooses.

English is the exploration of the human experience through language. It is through oral, written and visual texts that we communicate and receive ideas, beliefs and experiences. It is vital that all students are equipped with the reading, writing, oral and presenting skills needed to participate in our society. Parents can rest assured that our department does everything it can to ensure this is the case.

Making Meaning and Creating Meaning

The English curriculum is made up of two strands: Making Meaning (reading, listening and viewing) and Creating Meaning (writing, speaking and presenting). It is important that students and whanau are clear about the differences:

When assessing Making Meaning, we are looking for evidence of the quality of a student’s thinking and understanding. We are not making judgements about how well a student is expressing themselves – so while students should value clarity and good expression, they should not worry about whether or not their grade will be damaged by, say, poor spelling.

When assessing Creating Meaning, we are looking for evidence of how well a student can write, speak or present for a particular audience, purpose and text type. It is here that students must ensure that they are at their absolute best in planning, drafting, crafting and editing their work.

English Courses

Apart from KAL classes in the junior school, we do not stream in English. All senior courses are based on Achievement Standards, are endorseable and offer pathways to the next level. There are two courses at Year 13 (when English becomes optional) which are based on student choice, not prerequisites.

Formative Assessment

English NCEA assessments are made up of many stages and tend to take many weeks. Writing portfolios, for example, take three terms to complete: the reason for this is students’ writing improves over the course of the year, so students should be given every opportunity to attain success.

With complex assessments such as writing or research it is vital that students re-craft their work a number of times, especially in response to teacher feedback. Consultation and feedback (‘formative assessment’) are the most powerful influence on student achievement.

Put simply, ‘formative assessment’ = feedback to drafts prior to the deadline; ‘summative assessment’ = the work being given a grade and credits gained.

Formative assessment involves planning, drafting and crafting for teacher feedback on how the student is making progress. As mentioned, it is the most powerful influence on student achievement (as well as guaranteeing that the work is the student’s). The nature of English assessments means that it simply is not possible for work to be completed at the last minute. For this reason it is vital that students meet formative deadlines (and that students don’t treat that deadline as ‘just a draft’ and therefore ‘not important’). 

Media Studies

Media Studies provides students with the tools to negotiate an increasing complex media landscape with a critical eye. Over three years, students study a wide range of media, including film, advertising, social media, the music industry, magazine, and the changing nature of news.

Creative students enjoy the chance to write developed feature articles, produce magazine spreads and create an ad campaign. Analytical students enjoy critiquing the way groups are represented in the media and the way media products are targeted to a specific audience.

We are lucky enough to have a digital classroom for Media Studies, which gives us the tools we need to create complex media products. Students are also encouraged to bring their own devices for use in the learning environment.

Students are able to undertake the media scholarship exam. Our most recent success was in 2013 when one of our students gained 30/32 – an Outstanding Scholarship just two marks off top in the country.

We’ve also enjoyed participating in the Classification Office’s Censor for a Day workshops, where students receive information on why and how age restrictions are applied to media, and then are asked to classify a film which has yet to be released in New Zealand.

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