MATARAU SCHOOL AND THE CAMBRIDGE LOWER SECONDARY PROGRAMME (SECONDARY 1) F.A.Q.!
How many schools in NZ offer Cambridge?
You will find this on the Cambridge website. A mix of private and state schools. Demand for this programme is growing especially fast in Auckland and in Australia. Cambridge is the world’s most popular international programme, now offered in over 100 countries in over 2,000 schools. Matarau would be the first state school in Northland to offer the Cambridge Lower Secondary programme.
Why are we implementing Cambridge Lower Secondary in the year 7 and 8 part of our school? We are keen for our students to have an edge on entry to secondary school. The information we are consistently receiving is that Cambridge students are around 6 to 12 months ahead of their peers on entry to secondary school. The advantages of this are obvious and potentially far reaching.
How different is Cambridge from the usual programme offered for year 7 and 8 / intermediate age students around NZ? This is a complex question, but basically the Cambridge programme is more content heavy than the regular curriculum and children are introduced to concepts a little earlier. Cambridge also has internal and external exams which tell us how students are doing compared with students internationally. The NZ Curriculum certainly has its strengths (one of them being its open-endedness and flexibility) and so we will combine the best elements of both. Some content will overlap.
Where will change be most obvious? There will likely be more time spent in the core areas of Mathematics and English. Research shows that children doing well in these learning areas have a greater likelihood of success longer term and in other learning areas. There will be an increase in workload for some students, but our commitment is to ensure workloads are manageable. The footprint of some existing programmes will be modified to create space for Cambridge content.
Will learning still be fun? Absolutely. This curriculum is challenging but there is plenty of scope (and flexibility) to make learning enjoyable and interactive.
Do you intend offering Cambridge Science at some point in the future?
Yes, a little down the track. A science lab was built in 2015 and this will enable us to deliver the experimental components of this programme. Mrs Donaldson has a science degree (a rarity in the primary / intermediate service) and we intend to capitalise on this.
How will you ensure the best elements of the current NZ Curriculum are retained in your programmes? We will continually map back and forwards across both curricula to ensure we capitalise on best practice, and to ensure that nothing is missed. As a state school Matarau School is still obliged to deliver the National Curriculum
Do students sit formal exams in the first 2 years of the Lower Secondary programme? Yes but these are internal. There will also be progress assessments across the year. The Cambridge external examination is sat at the end of year 9.
Do you intend offering Cambridge year 9 at some point in the future?
Not at this stage, but we would not rule this out in the future.
Will our Cambridge programme be made available to out of zone year 7 and 8 students from the wider Whangarei area? Yes, once local students have been placed, we will open any available places (by ballot) to a limited number of out of zone students. The goal will still be to keep class numbers well below that of other year 7 and 8 schools. We think there will be interest from wider afield from parents wanting a solid academic preparation for secondary school but without paying private school fees.
Most schools offering Cambridge are private schools … will there be additional fees for students studying Cambridge at Matarau School? No.
Isn’t Cambridge better suited to more academic learners?
It does suit these students well, but it can be adapted to all learners and all levels of ability. One thing we have consistently heard is that even children who have struggled with Cambridge have found themselves achieving well above average when they have returned to a non-Cambridge classroom.
How will Matarau ensure that all year 7 and 8 students benefit from Cambridge? In conjunction with data, students and parents we will select a Cambridge pathway most suited to each student. Some students will do full Cambridge Maths, some will do full Cambridge English, some will do both and others will do a mix of Cambridge and the regular programme. All programmes, however, will include some elements of Cambridge.
What factors might influence a student’s chosen pathway?
Factors considered could include a student’s academic history, preferred subjects, general aptitude to learning, their individual learning style, existing familial or extramural commitments likely to place demands on their time etc.
How might Cambridge assist students in their transition to secondary school?
They will be well prepared academically, more familiar with the secondary curriculum, and more likely to be streamed into higher classes in year 9.
Who might be especially interested in / likely to benefit from this programme?
Those seeking the best possible foundation in English and Mathematics, those seeking good year 9 class placements at their chosen secondary, those considering a private school education for their child at some future point – but wanting to test the “Cambridge waters” first, those considering Huanui College or Whangarei Boys’ High School where Cambridge is offered (upper stream classes at WBHS years 9 to 13), those wanting the best possible start for their child at secondary school.
What if these students do not continue the Cambridge programme when they get to secondary school? No problem. These students will be well prepared no matter what secondary pathway is taken .. generally 6 to 12 months ahead of their peers.
Will the Matarau year 7 and 8 classes be streamed in 2016?
Definitely not. Homerooms will be mixed and students will enter their chosen pathways at various points across the day.
Please feel free to drop by with any questions.