Our Learning

Our localised school curriculum ensures that students are at the centre of teaching and learning.  We aim to provide them with a curriculum that engages and challenges them, is forward-looking and inclusive, and affirms New Zealand’s unique identity. 
High expectations The curriculum supports and empowers all students to learn and achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances. 
Treaty of Waitangi The curriculum acknowledges the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand. All students have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga.
Cultural diversity The curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people.
Inclusion The curriculum is non-sexist, non-racist, and non-discriminatory; it ensures that students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed.
Learning to learn The curriculum encourages all students to reflect on their own learning processes and to learn how to learn.
Community engagement The curriculum has meaning for students, connects with their wider lives, and engages the support of their families, whānau, and communities.
Coherence The curriculum offers all students a broad education that makes links within and across learning areas, provides for coherent transitions, and opens up pathways to further learning.

Future focus The curriculum encourages students to look to the future by exploring such significant future-focused issues as sustainability, citizenship, enterprise, and globalisation.

Values: Through their learning experiences students will learn about their own values, the school’s gospel values, and explore, with empathy, the values of others. Students will learn to negotiate disagreements that arise with differences in values, making ethical decisions and acting on them.  Values are encouraged, modelled, and explored, everyday, throughout all curriculum areas.

Students will be encouraged to value:

  • faith, having the understanding that they are loved by our Lord, Jesus Christ
  • excellence, by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties
  • innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively
  • diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages
  • equity, through fairness and social justice
  • community and participation for the common good, including peace, citizenship and manaakitanga
  • ecological sustainability, which includes care for the environment
  • integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable, acting ethically
  • to respect themselves, others, and human rights.
  • humility, understanding that  sometimes the needs of others need to be considered before their own and that there is consequences  for our actions.

Catholic Special Character

Religious Education Programme

We teach through the Faith Alive programme. This includes teaching the Strands about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Church, Sacraments and the Communion of Saints, as well as recognising and celebrating the Liturgical Year.
The school day begins and ends with class prayer.  Class prayer may be led by the class teacher or by a group of students.  We also take time to pray and give thanks before we eat.  
Religious Education is timetabled to be explicitly taught at the most suitable time to complement the classroom programme and to ensure coverage of the required hours:
  • Years 1 and 2: 100 minutes – 5 x 20
  • Years 3 and 4: 100 minutes – 5 x 20 or 4 x 25
  • Years 5 and 6: 120 minutes – 4 x 30
  • Year 7 and 8: 150 minutes – 5 x 30
 It is often integrated into other areas of the school curriculum for an authentic connection.
Our Director of Religious Studies (Clare Andersen-Gardiner) is always available to discuss questions about our Special Character:  alternatively, information about the Catholic Church, Catholic Education and our Special Character can be found on the following webpage www.nzceo.org.nz.
At St Joseph’s Ōpunakē School we understand that we are all on our own faith journey.


Encounter with Christ:
  • Staff prayer every Wednesday morning 
  • Each class begins the school day with prayer and leads the School Assembly when it is their turn
  • Mass is celebrated throughout the year at school and within Our Star of the Sea Parish
  • Staff support the Parish Sacramental programme
  • Regular access and use of the Parish Church for the whole school community


Growth in knowledge:
  • The Religious programme used is RE for Catholic Primary Schools in NZ (1996) and is now supported by the digital resource Faith Alive and the Bridging Document (2016)
  • Collaborative supportive response to the teaching of RE
  • Catholic perspective imbedded in Inquiry
  • A variety of Professional Development opportunities offered including TCI papers and area cluster meetings


Christian witness:
  • Woven throughout the school culture and curriculum e.g. Gospel values, PB4L, Caritas, 
  • Liturgical celebrations, St Joseph’s Day, Holy Week,
  • Signs and symbols are visible around the school
  • The manaakitanga that is evident to visitors coming to our school.


Safeguarding and Strengthening:
  • Updates from DRS to staff, PTA, BOT
  • Prayers, liturgies and Masses are regular features of school life
  • Tagged teachers supporting DRS, non-tagged staff and the Parish
Graduate Profile:
At St Joseph’s Ōpunakē, Our learners will be equipped for the next part of their learning journey as they graduate our school. Through Staff, Student and Community consultation we have identified 5 key values that form our Graduate Profile for our Year 8 Graduates. Students will aspire to become learners who are :
  • Resilient 
  • Innovative
  • Faith Filled
  • Connected

Interested in Enrolling

Contact Us now to enquire about Enrolling your child at St Joseph's Ōpunakē