Learning Model

Our values and philosophy statements, The ESF Teaching Capability Framework and our own thinking have driven the development of our South Island School learning model, shown below, that defines our approaches to learning and drives our staff professional development.



The Learning Model has four elements. The outer ring is our foundation, showing that everything we do is rooted in our philosophy and values statements and our commitment to internationalism.

The next ring describes the underpinning pedagogy and approaches to teaching that our staff draw upon when preparing learning experiences for our students:

Inquiry for Learning

Inquiry for Learning links with strategies for effective collaboration and focuses on constructing learning investigations where students gain experience of problem solving and are guided by (and begin to construct their own) questions to investigate issues and build understandings.

Assessment of and for learning

Assessment of and for learning describes a professional capacity to use both formative and summative assessment to develop deeper learning and to measure progress both formally and informally. These are critical skills in the development of programmes of learning and are used to nuance units of learning according to the needs of the group and individuals within it.

Concept-Based Learning

Concept-Based Learning is about big transferable ideas that transcend time, place and situation so that students can make sense of the facts and content covered in lessons and relate this to the world around them.

Globally Contextualized Learning

Globally Contextualized Learning is a recognition that learning resources need to be drawn from a global context which reflect both our diverse cultural (and linguistic) community and our Asian context.

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative Learning highlights the co-construction of knowledge amongst learners and between learners and teacher, promoting the belief that learning is a social phenomenon.


Differentiation requires that learning is constructed in such a way that it allows both access and appropriate challenge for all learners. In developing differentiated lessons, teachers draw heavily upon the Core Understandings.

Core Understandings

Core Understandings are professional capabilities relating to an understanding and appropriate applications for teaching of: Basic Literacy, Digital Literacy, Data Literacy, SEN and EAL.


Coaching approaches to learning link closely with inquiry-based approaches and start from a belief that learners have many of the answers and appropriate strategies ‘within’ themselves. Coaching encourages students to become independent and confident learners and to develop their reflective and problem-solving skills.

Built onto this are our approaches to learning (ATLs) which enable students to be successful learners. Learning is a developmental process that changes our thinking and behaviours, enabling us to acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes while providing a catalyst for creativity, critical thinking and independent learning. At South Island we have developed ‘student friendly’ language that we use to describe our aspirations for learning and the way in which students work towards developing academic and success and a portfolio of achievement in their Service Learning Outcomes:



I can communicate with other people well, using spoken and written techniques. I am fully aware that I need to adapt the way in which I communicate according to the situation, the people I am with, and the audience. I am aware of the need to allow for cultural differences when I communicate and I also know that I communicate with my actions and my gestures, not just with my words. I am able to gain and share knowledge using a variety of written, spoken and digital media and I am effective and confident when interacting in groups, in front of an audience, or with peers and adults on a one-to-one basis.



I am well organized and I can plan my time effectively. I keep careful schedules of upcoming work and I always have the right equipment with me for a particular task. I file my work, both written and digital in organized ways that I can access quickly. I understand how I learn most effectively and I organize my days to make sure that I can always learn at my best. I know myself well and I have effective strategies to help me focus on work, keep going when I feel challenged and stay positive under pressure. I never let myself be ruled by negative emotions and I practice strategies to prevent this from happening. I constantly reflect on my own development – what I am learning, how I feel about what is happening in my life and the areas in which I would like to improve. I know what my values are.



I am always aware of my own feelings and the feelings of those around me. I try hard to create good connections with other people and to build relationships that are based upon mutual respect. Whenever I can, I try to help others to succeed and I am prepared to put the needs of other people ahead of my own. I always take responsibility for my actions and I try to avoid blaming other people for mistakes – either my own or theirs. I always try to be fair and I always try to resolve conflict when I can. I have a clear sense of the positive ways to use social and digital networks and I never try to harm others, either emotionally or physically. I am prepared to stand up for myself and my values if I need to.



I am confident in finding, interpreting, analyzing, manipulating and re-presenting information in a number of different forms. I can make connections between the things that I find when I research and I understand that I always need to understand the source of any information that I am dealing with to help me evaluate its reliability. I also understand that secure research takes in as much data as possible from a range of places and seeks a balanced and neutral point of view. I can represent information in a wide range of ways including data spreadsheets, formal academic reports, digital presentations, and I know that I must be responsible for what I produce and be aware of its impact on other people.



I am able to put together my thoughts, opinions and feelings about things by drawing on sources of information around me, both academic and social. I can look at things in detail and from a ‘big picture’ perspective and I can use evidence to be objective and evaluate what I am seeing and hearing. I look for solutions to problems and I can break down challenges into smaller parts. I am able to build hypotheses and theories, predicting possible outcomes based upon evidence and reasoned argument. I am aware that different tools can help me to think and I use a number of strategies to help me solve problems and build creative solutions. I understand the concepts that underpin my academic learning and I can see and apply the connections between my learning in different subject areas. I am positive and flexible in my thinking and I am always open to have my thinking challenged by others without being upset. I am able to argue without letting my emotions control my thinking and I can support different lines of debate about a particular subject using logic and reasoning.

Finally, the classroom is at the centre of the model and referencing, reinforcing and drawing upon the other three rings.

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