Te Tīmatanga

Kavanagh College has a new junior school programme based on evidence from research which shows that Year 9 pupils are closer to Year 8 academically and socially compared to Year 10 students.  This has led us to develop a programme including Year 7 – 9 to enhance student engagement and academic improvement.

Below is an outline of the programme for these year levels. We will develop foundational skills and capabilities to enable our students to be the best prepared for Year 10 and above. The vision of Kavanagh College to promote excellence in learning and teaching and pastoral care for the Catholic community of Dunedin is still our focus.

Te Tīmatanga - The beginning 

We are driven by the following Whakataukī:

He tina ki runga, he tāmore ki raro

In order to flourish above, one must be firmly rooted below

WHY are we doing this?

We are growing learners who are engaged in authentic learning so that they develop foundational capabilities for their future.


Pastoral Care

We know that strong relationships between students and teachers create fertile ground for excellence in learning. Therefore we have created a structure to ensure that a small number of staff know your children very well and will mentor and advocate for them during their time in Years 7 - 9. Students will be in a Whānau tutor group – a vertical group comprising Year 7 – 9 students. These groups will operate like a tutor class in the same way that tutor classes operate in Years 10 - 13. The intention is that a Year 7 student would have the same Whānau teacher (Kaiako Kumanu) for three years. We will endeavour to have families together within this Whānau group. The Whānau teacher will be the first point of contact for parents. These Whānau groups will also be based around their school house groups and will be named after 12 native trees.

There will be two Deans for these Whānau groups and a Year 7 student will have the same pastoral Dean for three years.

Year 7 students are introduced to the school using a Peer Support programme which is led by our Year 13 students. Many of these students also get involved in the Buddies programme which develops relationships with our Year 12 students. We believe these are valuable experiences for all students and our Year 7 pupils enjoy the many positive interactions with prefects and head students.



Each student will have their curriculum learning with other students of the same year. A student will spend 16 hours a week with their curriculum teacher (Kaiako Wānanga). Year 9 students will have two Kaiako Wānanga covering eight hours each.

Learning areas to be covered in this timeslot are Religious Education, Literacy, Numeracy, Social Studies, Health and Science.

All students will also have:

5 hours a fortnight for two chosen options per semester (two terms), so four options in each year. Information on the option subjects is found on this page.

2 hours per week for Physical Education 

2 hours per week for Design for Change

Design for Change is an opportunity for students to work on projects related to social justice and/or the students' interests/passions using an inquiry learning model.



Our Years 7-9 work an integrated curriculum. What this means is that we will have a central focus for the term centred around a topical, current issue in our society. Our subject areas will then feed into this issue and learning in Mathematics, English, Science, Social Sciences, Religious Education and Health will have a real-world context. We are removing the scheduled times for subjects and replacing them with large blocks of time (2-4 hours at a time) with their curriculum teacher where they will be able to engage in activities which cover a range of the curriculum areas. Their learning groups will have students of the same year level - that is, if your child is in Year 7, then all the students in their learning group will also be in Year 7.

An example of what this could look like is looking at recent natural disasters within New Zealand (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.). Science fits into this issue through looking at tectonic plates, how flooding and erosion impacts on our earth, etc. Mathematics can include looking at the probability of events such as these happening and how this can be determined as well as Geometry and looking at the stability of different structures, how angles affect this and navigating around New Zealand using directions and coordinates. An example of how Religious Education would integrate includes looking at how the Early Church coped with disaster and adversity and how that tells us we should cope as well. Reading and writing are completely embedded in everything we do and thus the skills of literacy and the English curriculum are also interweaved. 

As well as developing a more engaging curriculum, we are wanting to focus on monitoring and tracking assessment far more closely and, with having one teacher covering six learning areas, we believe this will be able to be done at a much higher level. With all the classes having their learning group times at the same times, it means we have more freedom to provide further teaching for those needing extension but also for those where there are gaps and extra support could be needed.

We have designed this model for a range of reasons, including to lift the engagement and achievement of what we are already providing for our Year 7 - 9 students. We acknowledge that what we don’t want is for content or achievement to be in any way watered down from what it currently is. Therefore, we have identified that while we are implementing an integrated model, there will be times when we will need to enter the ‘Maths World’ or the ‘Literacy World’ to ensure we are still covering content even when it doesn’t fit in with our term's theme. We feel strongly that this programme needs to lift our current student achievement.

There are also many extra-curricular activities within the school that students in Years 7-9 can participate in. These include sports exchanges with Taieri College and Mt Aspiring College, the annual school musical, enviro club, kapa haka, instrumental music lessons, jazz band, student council, various lunchtime and after school clubs - and more. Year 8 students also get the opportunity to go on camp in Term 4.