Curriculum 2020-10-15T09:36:08+13:00

The Ponatahi Christian School Prospectus


In a single sentence: We teach the skills and objectives of the New Zealand curriculum, but from a Biblical foundation.

The Biblical Foundation of Curriculum

Education is commanded by the LORD

We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. Psalm 78:4-7

Education is to be based upon the precepts of the LORD.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4.

All education is to be to the glory of the LORD.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

The LORD has promised His blessing upon such education.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.

It is clear from the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25:14-30, that all people are accountable to the LORD for how each talent received has been used in His service. Hence we acknowledge the LORD as the giver of talents, we acknowledge each student’s responsibility as to how these talents are used, and we acknowledge the school’s responsibility to provide an environment whereby these talents may be further developed and directed.

The Key Competencies

The school identifies six key competencies which are the skills needed for continued learning, and which enable the student to eventually become a good employee and a useful contributor to church and society, the Lord willing. They are explained here for parental interest as they are at the heart of the curriculum from Year 1 to Year 13.

  • discernment between good and evil
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols, and texts
  • managing self
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing.

People use these competencies to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities. More complex than skills, the competencies draw also on knowledge, attitudes, and values in ways that lead to action. They are not separate or stand-alone. They are the key to learning in every subject.
The development of the competencies is both an end in itself (a goal) and the means by which other ends are achieved. Successful learners make use of the competencies in combination with all the other resources available to them. These include personal goals, other people, community knowledge and values, cultural tools (language, symbols, and texts), and the knowledge and skills found in different learning areas. As they develop the competencies, successful learners are also motivated to use them, recognising when and how to do so and why.

Opportunities to develop the competencies occur in social contexts. People adopt and adapt practices that they see used and valued by those closest to them, and they make these practices part of their own identity and expertise.

The competencies continue to develop over time, shaped by interactions with people, places, ideas, and things. Students need to be challenged and supported to develop them in contexts that are increasingly wide-ranging and complex.

Discernment between good and evil

With rapidly changing technology it is not possible to discern between good and evil on the basis of technology. Young people need to be trained to discern between the godly values of Galatians 5:22-23 and the defiling values of Mark 7:20-22 so that they are able to recognise the underlying values present in the flow of any information, irrespective of the media, and to make appropriate choices to protect themselves and to impart this key competency to the next generation, the Lord willing. Similarly they need to be trained to critically examine themselves for the real reason behind their choices in life and their emotional responses to situations in life, again to better protect themselves from the temptations and spiritual dangers in this life.


Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.

Students who are competent thinkers and problem-solvers actively seek, use, and increase knowledge. They reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions, and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.

Using language, symbols, and texts

Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed. Languages and symbols are systems for representing and communicating information, experiences, and ideas. People use languages and symbols to produce texts of all kinds: written, oral/aural, and visual; informative and imaginative; informal and formal; mathematical, scientific, and technological. Emphasis will be given to accurate English.

Students who are competent users of language, symbols, and texts can interpret and use words, number, images, movement, metaphor, and technologies in a range of contexts. They recognise how choices of language, symbol, or text affect people’s understanding and the ways in which they respond to communications. They confidently use ICT (including, where appropriate, assistive technologies) to access and provide information and to communicate with others.

Managing self

This competency is associated with self-motivation, responsibility, avoiding a “can’t do it” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners. It is integral to self-assessment.

Students who manage themselves are enterprising, resourceful, reliable, and resilient. They establish personal goals, make plans, manage projects, and set high standards. They have strategies for meeting challenges. They know when to lead, when to follow, and when and how to act independently.

Relating to others

Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts. This competency includes the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.

Students who relate well to others are open to new learning and able to take different roles in different situations. They are aware of how their words and actions affect others. They know when it is appropriate to compete and when it is appropriate to co-operate. By working effectively together, they can come up with new approaches, ideas, and ways of thinking.

Participating and contributing

This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include church, family, whanau, school, and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as worship, learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of spiritual, social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.

Subjects (Learning Areas)

The Learning Areas can be looked upon as vehicles for the Key Competencies. But they are more than that as the fundamental factual knowledge acquired does have its place, possible more so at this school than some others. (The official New Zealand curriculum actually specifies very little factual knowledge which means that we have a lot of freedom in choosing the contexts for teaching the skills of each subject.)

In Religious Education the students are taught primarily three things which can not be learnt from other curriculum areas: 1) Who God is, 2) Our relationship to Him, and 3) The way of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit. His providence and care of the church throughout all ages is studied in Church History. Religious education is under the direct oversight of the Church Session and Board of Proprietors. Other subjects are under the supervision of the Board of Trustees. Age-appropriate Religious Education is a compulsory subject for all students.

In English the students are taught that language is God’s gift which places us above the animals and enables us to communicate with Him and to receive His communication to us. The principal goal of any language programme ought to be the imparting of skills which enables students to confidently read the Bible and the godly works of the church forefathers. Age-appropriate Religious Education is a compulsory subject for all students. In years 1-8 English has the largest single subject by far, taking up to 50% of structured learning time in the form of many “subjects” such as reading, hand writing or printing (where neatness is most important), formal writing (where correct English is most important), creative writing (where the focus is on putting ideas on paper), spelling, and oral language. English is also compulsory in Y9 to Y12, and highly recommended in Y13.

In Maths the students are taught to see the order which God has placed upon the universe. Maths is not subject to human or experimental error – it is like God’s fingerprint upon creation. Maths is compulsory in all classes to Y12, and Statistics is recommended for all Y13 students likely to go on to university. The calculus option in Y13 is also recommended for students preparing for a science, maths, or engineering degree.

Science subjects demonstrate the order of mathematical principals and testify of the intelligence and power of God. In this subject the students are taught that the Biblical account of creation is the only scientifically feasible explanation of the origin of the universe, and that evidence of purposeful design can be seen all around us. Science is a “topic” subject in Y1 to Y8, and is given a similar emphasis to English and maths from Y9 to Y11 where it is compulsory. The science options of physics, chemistry, biology and agriculture are available in Y12 and Y13.

In Social Studies, the students can explore the Providence of God and the unfolding of God’s eternal plan. Like science, social studies is a “topic”subject in Y1 to Y9, and geography and history options are available from Y10 to Y13.

In Health and Physical Education, the students learn that our bodies are not our own, and we cannot do with them as we wish. But it is in the interests of our health and happiness if we care for ourselves, and each other, according to the precepts God has described in His Word. Physical Education is compulsory for students from Y1 to Y13 and includes swimming lessons at certain times of the year. We also acknowledge the social and motivational benefits of P.E. Health is taught in Y1 to Y9 as a topic subject.

Technology is problem solving using the abilities, resources, and opportunities God has given us. It can be in the context of soft materials (fabrics), hard materials such as wood (our specialist area), food, and several other areas. Technology is a “topic”subject in Y1 to Y9, including a full afternoon every week in Y6-7. It is a serious optional subject in Y8 to Y13. In addition, Information Technology is a compulsory subject in Y6 to Y9, is integrated through Y11 to Y13 learning, and is available as an optional subject form Y11-Y13 for those interested in programming and web page design, etc. Graphics and Design is available as an option from Y9. We are also one of a small number of secondary schools in New Zealand to offer aviation as an NCEA subject.

In The Arts students are encouraged to use the talents which God has given them, including creativity, and to appreciate the use of talents in others. Music is the art form which is given the greatest emphasis in the school, followed by visual art. These are compulsory in Y1-Y9 and available as options from Y10.

Basic Maori vocabulary is taught from Y1 to Y9 in appropriate contexts. Maori Language instruction is taught in Y6 to Y9, and is a more serious option in Y9 to Y13. Other languages, such as Mandarin, Japanese, and several Europeans languages are available as options from Y9 to Y13, through distance education.

In Commerce Subjects students are taught to be good stewards of resources God has entrusted to us, and that we are accountable to both man and God. Accounting and Business Studies are both options from Year 11 through distance education. We are also one of the few secondary schools in New Zealand to offer NCEA credits in Aviation. Commerce subjects, like technology subjects, are directly related to careers education, below.

Careers Education is arguably one of the most important subjects taught at school, although the time allocated to it is much less than the other major subjects. This is taught within the social studies curriculum in Y6 to Y9, while more serious time and even school trips and guest speakers are common place in Y10 to Y13. Senior students are also taught how to go online and link potential careers to their NCEA achievement. Year 12 and year 13 students also have the option of spending one day per week studying a vocational course at UCOL (Universal College Of Learning).

A list of all options is given to college students near the end of each year to aid them in making choices for the following year. Some options above, notably languages, require on-line learning or distance education. The on-line subjects available at are accessible to our students.