Our Curriculum


We are a connected, creative community that inspires courageous learners.

During 2018, our Board of Trustees led the school and community through a review of our charter document. We are all very excited with our new shared language and understanding of who we are in this place.

Getting to know each child as an individual is top of our teachers’ priority list. Each learner has their own ‘story’ and it’s our privilege to then ensure that they then experience challenge and success through a rich curriculum.


We have four core values at Upper Harbour Primary and these guide how we behave towards each other, to those in the wider community and to our environment.


Thinking through the implications of their actions and words.
Carefully considering options and ideas.
Being socially and ethically responsible.


Setting high expectations for ourselves.
Always believing we can make it better or do it better.


Being generous hosts.
Genuinely caring about others.
Being honest and respectful.



Including others, building their self-esteem, being a family.
Lending a hand, going the extra mile and putting others’ needs before our own.

Our Foundation


We hold a values assembly every Monday morning.  This is an opportunity to come together as a whole school community and set our students up for a successful week.  Each term we focus on a value that we have collectively decided is important for who we want our students to be.  Our four main values are Manaakitanga, Resilience, Growth Mindset and Collaboration.  At Upper Harbour you will find students who approach new tasks with resilience, who demonstrate manaakitanga by being welcoming and inviting, who understand hard work and effort is what you need to succeed and can work with anyone, big or small, to achieve a common goal. At the end of each term, we have a celebration with the value focus of that term being at the centre.


Many of our classes host Teach Me Tuesday in their rooms.  This is when students are given the opportunity to be the teacher!  They choose an area they are passionate about and lead their class through a lesson.  Students are exposed to a wide variety of lessons from their classmates – drawing, sport, languages, baking and much more.


Each Friday every class in the school does Circle Time. This is a class meeting time where students can discuss their thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential environment. Students decide on Circle Time rules as a class and help each other solve their problems. It’s also space where teachers can build upon whole school initiatives such as looking after the environment or treating people with respect. Each class has its own Circle Time mascot and as well as a lot of discussions, students play games to connect with one another.


A highlight of the Upper Harbour school year is Enrichment Day.  Teachers, students and staff choose an activity to run for the day and students select their favourite options.  We have all sorts of amazing activities, from gardening to jewellery making, baking to coding, bush survival and sports.  It’s an exciting day where students get the opportunity to explore their passions.

At Upper Harbour Primary School we are an inclusive school environment.  We are a growing school with increasing numbers of English Language Learners (ELL).  We know that being bilingual is a great skill to have and strive to promote and maintain first languages alongside learning English.  We aim to harness students’ strengths and build upon these.  We get to know each student – their likes, interests and experiences, then use these to build upon their new learning.  Students will have opportunities to show tuakana teina and learn from each other, such as buddying older and younger students of similar language backgrounds.  Family involvement and communication are highly valued and we consult regularly with our community.

ESOL means “English for Speakers of Other Languages”.

The tuakanateina relationship, an integral part of traditional Māori society, provides a model for buddy systems.

The New Zealand Curriculum is a world-class, dynamic, and flexible framework for learning. It has been designed to provide our students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to succeed in a complex and fast-paced world.  The Ministry of Education outlines three key areas in the interpretation of how this curriculum is shared in our learning communities. This is through the national curriculum, the school curriculum, and the classroom curriculum.

‘The national curriculum provides the framework and common direction for schools, regardless of type, size, or location. It gives schools the scope, flexibility, and authority they need to design and shape their curriculum so that teaching and learning are meaningful and beneficial to their particular communities of students. In turn, the design of each school’s curriculum should allow teachers the scope to make interpretations in response to the particular needs, interests, and talents of individuals and groups of students in their classes.’  -Ministry of Education-Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI)

At Upper Harbour, we design and deliver our school and classroom curriculum based on the unique needs of our learners. As our communities grow, we need to ensure we are responsive to the many changes and ensure we are providing opportunities to all learners at every level and from the diverse groups who make up our school community.  We do this by exploring new ideas and possibilities that can be explored through informed practice, innovation, and a growth mindset.  We never stop evaluating and reflecting on our programmes. We regularly review the design of our school curriculum process so that we take into consideration the many important voices in our community including students, teachers, parents, caregivers, and members of the Board.

As part of our school curriculum, Upper Harbour explores concepts that allow students and teachers to make authentic links between big ideas and their everyday learning. These ideas can enable teachers and school leaders to design their programmes specific to groups and year levels. For example, the concept of Courage can be explored as a quality or behaviour in individuals, in communities, and/or as part of different groups over time and across a variety of cultures and contexts. It is in fact the context of the classroom content that will look different across year and group levels. This allows teachers to provide learning experiences that are authentic to and supportive of the needs of the group of students they know best. However, in order to provide the greatest scope in learning, programmes may also be delivered by different teachers and specialists. While a concept may be initiated at the beginning of a term, it is our aim that authentic connections can be made throughout a student’s time at Upper Harbour, and beyond.  

Please take a look at our School Charter for more information.