Our Look of Learning


Every student at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery develops an Individual Education Plan. This plan forms the basis of how and what they will learn. The IEP is usually set and reviewed at an Individual Education Meeting (IEM). The IEM allows the student, their family, and their homebase learning advisor, to share their thoughts, challenges and goals. These could be short term or long term. This meeting is not simply a course selection meeting. The meeting takes a holistic approach to finding the best way to let you follow your passions, your interests and your needs.


The New Zealand Curriculum informs everything we do at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery. It is woven into all of our offered courses as well as built into our student’s personal inquiries and projects.

Student Achievement

All of our students are tracked against the NZC, their own personal learning outcomes, as well as NCEA. Students do not have to follow prescribed assessment routes at our school. Instead students can work at whichever level of the curriculum that best serves their current needs. Our desire to have all students take an active part in their learning also provides regular opportunities for our students to assess themselves against their own outcomes. All of this information is used to help create the best learning plan for you. You don’t need to prove yourself at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery before you can do it, and we’ll never treat you like a year level. We recognise that every student has different strengths and weaknesses, and use this information to make a programme that is uniquely yours.

LA Facilitated Courses

From Y1 to Y13 you can expect to find learning advisors “teaching” courses. Many people have a view that a personalised programme cannot include structured classes – and are often surprised to see that we have them. These courses provide our students the opportunity to work with learning advisors working in the areas they are genuinely passionate about. Our LAs are able to plan programmes of learning that help students connect with their subject area. You’ll find that our programmes are as different as the LAs who plan and deliver them. This provides our students with a range of ways to access the curriculum. All of our courses run in 5 week (half term) blocks. This allows our students the chance to make a change without fear of reprisal for having started mid term or mid year. With that said, most of our senior students tend to take a course for the entire year. Our structures are flexible enough to allow our LAs to respond to student requests for courses. If there is enough interest you may be able to get something onto the schedule that isn’t there yet.

Personalised Student Driven Learning

Our students are encouraged to develop and engage with their own learning programmes. Our students do not have to follow the class route to obtain their qualifications or aspirations. If you’re passionate about something, willing to make a plan and have the persistence to follow wherever your learning will take you, then you can make it happen. In the past students have created their own learning opportunities by developing their own businesses, building a personal inquiry, teaching other students a skill, or doing what they love all day every day. There are no limits to what you could do at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery. It’s all your time as long as it’s learning time.

Important Terms

SDL or Student Directed Learning

At Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery all students, from new entrants to Year 13 are able to direct their own learning so that the enthusiasm and love of learning is retained.

Learning Advisor or LA

The name for what most schools call a teacher. LA moves away from the notion that a teacher teaches and a student learns. We believe that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner

Homebase or HB

This is where a group of children are based for meetings and where they keep their things. Children choose a group of children they wish to learn with as well as an Learning Advisor. The Homebases are usually spread across 3 to 4 year levels.


Several Homebases together form a Community. Communities create a sense of belonging for all, are the basis for strong and supportive relationships, and also help encourage all members to contribute, participate and collaborate in their learning. The role of a Community Leader is similar to the role of a dean. Whilst communities carry year level tags, it is important to note that the school’s timetable works across all communities. Students can choose to work at the level most appropriate to their passions and interests regardless of community. For example, a student in the Y7-10 community has no intentional barriers to engaging with NCEA level courses.

OSL or Off Site-Learning

Students/families can choose to do OSL instead of coming into the Homebase. Some may choose this once per week, others may have an OSL day every so often and some have them rarely – it is up to each family. OSL provides the students with the flexibility to learn in places and ways beyond the Homebase. An OSL form will need to be completed and given to the Learning Advisor.

COL or Celebration of Learning

This is a time when the school gets together and celebrates the learning that has been happening across Homebases. There are usually several COL events during each term where students can showcase their talent, creativity and engagement. Families are welcome to attend COL events.

PINs or Passions Interests and Needs

This programme allows for the passions, interests and needs of both children, staff and parents to be met by either LAs, outside experts or community members. The school offers opportunities and designated time for students to pursue advertised passions, interests and needs.