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Manurewa Intermediate – MI Graduate Profile

Manurewa Intermediate School is a decile 1 multicultural school in South Auckland with approximately 800 students, including 50% Pasifika and 37% Māori.

This is our story of how we developed a Graduate Profile and then shaped an approach to enabling students and teachers to collaborate in making progress towards it visible, assessing that progress, and sharing it with parents, whānau, board and community.

This is just one way – there is no innovation without trial and error. We like to innovate. There are holes and things we already know we will change, things we neglected, room for improvement and things we should have acknowledged and included right at the start.

There is a robust dialogue emerging around "knowledge versus skills". Ours is a curriculum approach based on capabilities rather than knowledge acquisition.

The "why" and the "what"

We have long had our school vision statement: "Adventurous risk takers: persistent focussed achievement"; and our definition of achievement: "The value added to the holistic wellbeing of every child, at every opportunity".

What we have not had is a clear, shared picture of how we would want our graduating students to be – their values, dispositions, and competencies. What would we and their parents/whānau want them to know (apart from being at the expected levels in literacy and numeracy), what would we want them to be? Values and culture evolved as the central essence.

Our Graduate Profile has been designed by parents and whānau, the students and us to describe the qualities that we all want to shape in our students in the two years they are with us.

It defines our expectations for the students. It is a set of eight ideas that encompasses the attitudes, values and qualities they have had to exercise and develop over their time with us. We believe, if a student graduates having made good progress in achieving these eight ideas they are well on their way to being successful, happy, well rounded citizens ready for their next step, wherever that may take them.

What we came up with 

          Select the image to expand to full view.

Where it came from

The evolution of the Graduate Profile began with robust discussions within the leadership team. We wanted the front-end of the curriculum to be emphasised. Schools are often "caught up" in the back end. We wanted value added to the holistic wellbeing of every learner. We knew our parents were on board, fully supportive of shaping a picture of our ideal graduate.

As a staff we felt a responsibility to shape our own ideas about how we might work with the community and the students so that we achieved strong buy-in from all.

  • We started by forming a teacher review group and talked through the mechanics. 
  • We then carried out a student survey of four kids from every class - we used students to interview students to keep it authentic.
  • We looked at the responses and there was a lot of talk from students of being Below/At etc, some of values, some of what we call our Keys to Success. But there was no overall sense from the students of the attitudes, values and qualities they wanted from their two years with us.
  • We were left wondering how we could instil the same holistic view of achievement in students that we had.
  • We also wanted students to have a greater sense of control over their achievement. A drive towards student agency will change outcomes. We do not use language of ‘below’ etc with our students. We are trying to change the culture of the place through the Graduate Profile.
  • We spent time as a staff shaping these eight key qualities.
  • We took these ideas back to the students and to the community for discussion and refinement. We then got the go-ahead. From our community and our kids, we had our vision, our words.

The next step was to figure out how to incorporate these big ideas into our teaching so that they came to have a tangible reality, so that each and every student would know who they were striving to be by the end of year 8. Each of them would know what their learning goals were, each of them would know exactly how they were progressing towards their goals, each of them would know how and when to reset their goals to aim higher. Each of them would know that all of their teachers were working with them to help them reach their goals.

We came up with our Graduate Profile illustrated above. After two terms of trialing, we are cautiously optimistic. Some of it has required significant changes to our teaching and how we organise for learning across the school.