Case Study: Huanui College, NZ
For this article, we have interviewed Carolyn Evans, one of the brilliant Whānau Leaders at Huanui College in Whangārei, a member school of ISNZ Independent Schools of New Zealand. Carolyn has been an advocate of wellbeing since she started her teaching career in 1999 in Melbourne due to the care she received from her teachers as a student.
Huanui College is located in the countryside on the way to the world-renowned Tutukaka coast; it is the only independent Year 7 – 13 College in the Whangārei area. At Huanui College, Carolyn has told us that they believe the wellbeing of their whānau is vital. To achieve your optimum, you must feel at your optimum. Their ‘Whānau Wellbeing Programme’ is designed to help develop robust relationships, foster self-esteem and contribute to engagement and achievement. Huanui College’s goal is to create confident people in their own identities who are socially and emotionally connected and flourish in all aspects of their lives. Carolyn says, “We recognise the unique qualities of our community and aim to provide a safe working environment of excellence and care for all members of our community. Clear communication and genuine interest in our Whānau help build strong connections and trust and provide everyone with a sense of belonging.” At Huanui, wellbeing is not a stand-alone value as it is woven within and across the curriculum. The wellbeing programme is designed to help develop robust relationships between whānau, staff, parents and students. Their ‘whānau system’ is the foundation of a holistic approach to education and wellbeing.
From relying on staff’s ability to read through students’ behaviour to regularly gaining meaningful data to understand how they’re really feeling: introducing Komodo enabled Huanui College in New Zealand to create tailored wellbeing programmes and activities that help students feel happy, connected and heard.
Before implementing Komodo, Huanui College relied on their community’s ability to communicate students’ concerns to Whānau Leaders, Whānau Teachers, Whānau Mentors, their administration team and/or their school counsellor to understand their students' inner world.
At Huanui College, the staff pride themselves on knowing their students and advocating student agency. They have built solid, trusting relationships and treat each student as an individual. Even with good practices in place, not every student openly shares how anxious or worried they might be to their friends or trusted adults. Support could only be provided to those who voiced their concern or showed it to some extent - either socially or academically.
Carolyn and the other staff at Huanui College were keen on exploring new ways and tools that would:
- Enable them to get to know their students better.
- Provide an online platform for students to express how they are feeling openly.
- Help the school community insight into students’ true inner feelings.
- Gain meaningful data to guide them in creating tailored wellbeing programmes and activities that support their community to feel better.
Last year, Carolyn and the Hillary Whānau Team rolled out Komodo to a Whānau group of 80 students from Years 7 to 13. They surveyed students on a weekly basis and used the survey results to pinpoint areas of concern.
The team were amazed at the value-added information they gained from the surveys and how openly their students expressed their inner thoughts and feelings.
This year the staff have implemented it across the entire school and plan to use the data to:
- Better understand their total school communities wellbeing from every student’s voice.
- Create intervention plans backed by data that would address targeted concerns.
- Proactively create tailored activities to help students build connections and relationships.
- Engage with students on an online platform that they are comfortable communicating through.
Carolyn Evans has shared her feedback on their experience with Komodo to her colleagues and explained in what ways our solutions have helped them implement targeted wellbeing programmes.
Visibility across the entire whānau
‘Staff liked accessing their whānau group home page and seeing visually how their students were doing overall - red to green.’
‘Why I have said we should have this - the Hillary Team and I learnt more about our students from the survey than we knew without it!’
Support to students
“The option to add a comment is used a lot by students. Students who typically tell us they are fine, used Komodo to open up and let us know what was worrying them by adding a private comment. I replied to them using the online platform and opened a dialogue of support and care utilising this form of medium. I found that this form of medium worked better for our more private students - using an online platform was their preferred option. When learning that a student is feeling out of sorts, I usually talk face to face with them. Without this, we would not have known how they were really feeling, and they would not have received the support they needed.”
Komodo has contributed to weaving tailored wellbeing activities and programmes in one of the Whānau Groups at Huanui College. The outcomes witnessed in students, as a result, have been so encouraging that they are now implementing Komodo across the whole school.
If you’re an independent school in New Zealand and would like to learn more about how we can help your school with students’ wellbeing, book a discovery call at the link below. We already work with several ISNZ member schools such as Huanui College, King’s College and St Andrew’s College, who are already gaining the insights needed to master student wellbeing. What insight will you gain?