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General Curriculum

Birkenhead Primary School teaches the full New Zealand curriculum. We aim to work with the children in each area to identify their individual needs and use their interests to engage them with what they are learning.


The school aims to improve all children's literacy abilities - in writing, reading, and in associated literacies of speaking, listening, viewing, presenting. We encourage the children to write as independently as possible from the start - using their developing sound knowledge, using words from their environment, and other spelling aids. We regularly assess the children's writing, and discuss their next steps. We read to the children, we read with them in group reading and discussion lessons, and we encourage them to enjoy reading independently. Reading is constantly assessed at all levels to track children's progress. Children are regularly assessed and grouped so they are working at an appropriate level for their reading ability. There is a reading recovery programme for children who need extra assistance with learning to read. The school has a range of reading resources in every classroom, and a fine library with an excellent collection of fiction and non-fiction titles for all ages.


The school teaches according to the "Numeracy approach" - which aims to develop the children's number knowledge, and to develop their abilities to use strategies to solve mathematical problems in the context of Geometry, Measurement, Statistics, and other everyday situations.  Children develop mathematical thinking and understanding through the use of equipment and materials.  They explain and show their problem-solving strategies in different ways. Maths games help to make numeracy learning engaging and enjoyable.


See our Inquiry pages for more information.


The school enjoys music. Junior children are introduced to untuned and tuned percussion, singing, moving to music. All Year Three to Six children learn recorder each year. This instrument is a cheap and accessible way of introducing children to music notation, and teaching them to play in groups, to compose and play, to improvise, and to build skills which can take them further in Music.  Extra-curricular music opportunities include a choir, an orchestra and a kapa haka group. Children can take private (parent paid) weekly music lessons during school hours. The Music Education Centre offers in-school lessons in piano, violin and guitar. The Music at Schools programme allows children the opportunity of hiring a band instrument (trumpet, trombone, sax, clarinet, flute), receiving group tuition, and joining the school band.


In addition to classroom art opportunities, Birkenhead Primary has a specialist art teacher who works with children at all levels of the schools on special projects. Children have the opportunity to try techniques such as printmaking, painting, crayon-and-dye, collage, weaving, clay sculpting and beading, and explore various artistic styles. Art is exhibited around the school, with special exhibitions held periodically in the school and in community locations.

Tikanga Maori

Te Reo is included in classroom practice, with the focus on communication and basic vocabulary (such as greetings, numbers, colours and family relationships). Tikanga Maori is honoured in school activities and events, with powhiri held for important visitors and kapa haka performances from our own kapa haka group.

Physical Education and Sports

At some stage every day, our children  take part in fitness activities, such as a short runs, skipping,  or Jump Jam (fun aerobics to music) session. During the summer terms (Term One and Term Four) children have weekly swimming in the school's own heated pool.

Education Outside the Classroom WW4.jpg

EOTC programmes include an annual week-long school camp for Year 6 students, and a week of outdoor challenge activities for students in Year 4 and 5, including tramping, confidence courses, rock-climbing and water activities. We are currently part of the Birkenhead Waterwise Trust and our Year 5 and 6 children take part in yachting and kayaking skills and water safety.

Extra-curricular sports options include badminton, swimming, touch, soccer, cricket, netball, hockey and gymnastics. School notices have details of upcoming opportunities to get involved, and parent coaching is always welcome.

View the New Zealand curriculum website for more detailed information about the philosophies, values and practicalities of the New Zealand curriculum.