Current New Zealand and overseas research has shown that ‘Girls Only Classes’ have proved beneficial for some female students. Therefore in 2010 Year 7 girls were being considered to be part of the first Girls Only Class during their last year at Rotorua Intermediate.The first focus is considering the girls’ learning and engagement needs. Research and our own experiences indicate that some girls and boys have specific learning styles best suited to their gender. Many girls function very well in traditional mixed gender classrooms, however, we believe that some female students may be better able to reach their potential in a girls only class (Hine Kaha). Like all our class teachers at Rotorua Intermediate, focus is on maximising the academic, leadership and sporting potential of the girls in the class, whilst building healthy relationships. This is achieved through catering for the particular interests and developmental stages that these girls are moving through. The girls will are involved in activities to develop a sense of womanhood in society, and focus on different career options for the future. This is achieved through activities out in the community, school leadership roles and maximum participation in all school activities. This class is focussed on meeting the learning and developmental needs of girls. Although the class has its own special characteristics, it operates along the same guidelines and expectations as other classes in the school. Their programme meets the same school requirements as mixed gender classes at the same year level. The Girls’ class mixes regularly with other classes through the technology / specialist programme and all school wide programmes.
Criteria for selection includes the following:
I carry a lot of self-pride when I think about Hine Kaha. I set out to prove that not only were boys classes important for some boys, but girls were just as deserving. Unfortunately I don’t have hard evidence to prove that the girl’s class has been a success, however, there is evidence in the fact that the class is still active and past students still talk about their experience in Hine Kaha.
As the criteria for the class was based on Levels of engagement in present learning situation, Academic potential as indicated through school assessment and observations, and Leadership potential demonstrated in class and in other school settings, these areas were what I focused on with the students. At the end of the first year, one of the students of Hine Kaha was presented with two prestigious awards within the school – the Sports Girl of the Year and Hinemoa awards. The end of the second year saw one girl presented with the Sports girl of the Year and she was also a school prefect, and another girl was School Role Model and presented with the Hinemoa award. At the end of the third year one of the girls just missed out on being Sports Girl of the Year but was named Head Girl. It wasn’t just my doing for why these girls were rewarded for their achievements as they had teacher’s from previous years put in hard work too, however, it was the support of the class that helped these girls to continue their growth in Leadership and Academia areas.
There is nothing I would change regarding the pedagogy of Hine Kaha. What I would change is adding a few more community based programmes into the classroom life. These would include peer tutoring in other classrooms and choosing organisations around the community to volunteer time with. I am very thankful to have been trusted with such a huge responsibility in the setup of an alternate education setting, one that I believe has benefited many young ladies today.