St Mark’s School educates children for life and we strive toward having Year 8 children graduating with a strong academic foundation, self-belief and a confident outlook to take to their next stage of education.

St Mark’s School teaching programme follows closely that of The New Zealand Curriculum, a statement of official policy related to the teaching and learning in New Zealand schools. The purpose of The New Zealand Curriculum is to set direction for student learning and to provide guidance, allowing St Mark’s to design and implement curriculum that is tailored to meet the learning needs of our students and community expectations.

St Mark’s School educates children for life and we strive toward having Year 8 children graduating with a strong academic foundation, self-belief and a confident outlook to take to their next stage of education. Graduating children attend a wide range of secondary schools, State, Integrated and Independent schools within the Canterbury region.

The New Zealand Curriculum specifies eight learning areas, which is part of a broad, general education, laying a foundation for specialisation in later years of schooling.


Oral, visual and written language forms the basis of communication, and success depends not only on the ability to read well, but also the provision of an enlightened, imaginative programme, which enables each child to develop skills necessary to communicate original ideas clearly and accurately, orally, visually or in writing.

To this end, emphasis is placed on learning to read as soon as the child is ready, and priority given to extending vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Instructional and recreational reading is valued equally, and an extensive library of reference books and literature is available to all classes.

Language exercises are undertaken in all classes as an integral part of the language programme. Work covered follows a planned progression, or relates to topics being studied at a particular time.

Opportunities are provided for the children to work at their level on the written, oral and visual strands of the English curriculum.


Graded lists of words relevant to the children’s experiences and the school programme are presented in personal booklets and distributed by the classroom teacher. Children are encouraged to use a dictionary, thesaurus and IT word processing/editing programmes to assist in self-editing and vocabulary extension. Individual learning lists, which include topics being studied in class, are prepared, and each child is expected to learn these words as part of regular homework, with follow up testing.


The children are taught cursive style and are allowed to develop their own styles as they progress


Through Mathematics and Statistics the children explore the use of patterns and relationships in quantities, space, data and time. Additional resource material used to extend children and reinforce skills and attitudes.

At regular intervals tests are administered, which not only indicate progress, but also diagnose areas of difficulty. The more able children are encouraged to progress at their own rate through the programme, and extension work is provided.


Topics of study maintain a balance between the contextual strands of the curriculum, being Nature of Science, Living World, Planet Earth and Beyond, Physical World and Material World.

Units are designed to assist children develop skills and knowledge through understanding about science, investigating science, communicating science and participating and contributing in science.

There is provision for pupils in the senior school to undertake units from the Canterbury Science Teachers’ Association Badge scheme.

Social Sciences

Topics in this learning area are related to how societies work and how people participate as critical, active, informed and responsible citizens. Contexts are drawn from past and present from places within and beyond New Zealand.  Where possible, classes are provided with first-hand experiences, such as field trips, community study visits and visits from resource people.  Support activities include such things as individual note taking, research assignments (eg action learning), digital presentation, predicting future impacts on people and the world and group studies.

Religious Education

Religious observances and religious instruction form part of the education at St Mark’s. Topics include teaching about the Bible, worship, world religions, ethics, morals and values, personal faith and philosophical issues.

The Arts

Progressive skills and techniques are taught to allow the children to practise, and experiment with confidence, through movement, sound and image, transforming creative ideas into expressive works of communication.

Visual Art – a balanced coverage of the prescribed areas of painting, drawing, printmaking, construction, fibre and fabric, modelling and technology is covered.

Music – Sound Arts is an integral part of the life of the School. Singing is taken regularly in all classes, leading to a high standard of choral music at the senior level.
The children are taught to read music through playing instruments such as the recorder, guitars, glockenspiels, xylophones and various percussion instruments.

Drama – is taught at all levels of the school, with children learning to use the spoken word with confidence and communicating effectively using body language, movement and space.

Years 5 & 6 children have the opportunity to join a weekly drama group, while Year 7 & 8 engage in theatre sports, puppetry, drama, mime and creative dance for school concerts and major productions.

Scripted plays are studied and presented, and the children write and perform plays of their own.

Dance – the children develop a range of skills integrating choreographic structure and creative thinking.


Children in Years 7 & 8 travel to Technology at the Te Waka Unua Technology Centre each week and are taught by qualified instructors. The programme consists of Foods, Workshop Craft, Electronics, Plastics and Textiles.

Throughout other areas of the school the topics of study allow the children to be innovators, developers of products and systems, addressing needs and realising opportunities.

Information Communication Technology

All school computer technology has the facility to connect to the internet. St Mark’s School uses a high-speed (broadband) internet connection. Children and parents are required to sign an Internet Safety policy before children use school technology. All classes have iPads and access to a pod of computers.

Health and Physical Education

Through health programmes the children learn about their own well-being and that of others in society.

Physical Education and the Sports programme form a strong basis of the school programme.
During February and March each year, all classes undertake an extensive course of swimming instruction at Waltham Lido Pool and Aqua Gym, in which all children are expected to participate. Our annual swimming sports are held in March, and a number of children are provided with the opportunity of competitive swimming against other schools in the Independent Schools’ Swimming Sports.

During the year all teachers undertake regular Physical Education lessons and fitness programmes with their own classes. In the winter term there is an extensive programme, which includes ball skills, gymnastics and folk dancing.

Later in the year, several weeks of Physical Education are devoted to instruction in athletic skills, followed by our annual Athletic sports and participation in the Independent Schools’ Athletic Sports.

Children also have the opportunity to opt into a variety of sport teams, both in summer and winter, provided there is enough interest to form a team.

Education Outside The Classroom

Classes from Year 5 up engage in a programme of class camps. This provides the children with a range of experiences, not only in communal co-operation and affective education, but various outdoor activities such as hikes, orienteering, science and social studies units, camping and water safety.

Learning Languages

Children in the senior school are given the opportunity to learn an additional language and through this explore different worldviews in relation to their own.

Environmental Education

St Mark’s School promotes environmental education – Education for Sustainability. The children are encouraged to develop an understanding of the environment and the importance of effective environmental decision-making around sustainability issues.


Homework is set daily, except weekends, to extend classroom learning and develop a regular daily routine. Homework time should not be a time of tension, and generally consolidates work done at School.
As a general guide to parents, the following limits should apply:
Yr 1 – 2: 5 to 20 minutes per day
Yr 3 – 6: 20 to 45 minutes per day
Yr 7 – 8: 45 to 60 minutes per day