Year 6 Expo – Sharing the Planet

September 27, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Deep and Meaningful Learning

Each year, theboys in Year 6 are presented with a unique opportunity - to undertake a significant and lengthy inquiry over the course of a term and then exhibit their learning journey for the wider school community in the form of an Expo. Not only is their finished work put on display but the boys are also on hand to answer questions from visitors about the process behind their inquiry and what they learnt as a consequence.

No matter what the year level, when visiting classrooms at the Boys’ School, you are left in no doubt that the boys are actively engaged in their learning. In class there is always a purposeful hum of activity but even when the classrooms are empty, there is much to be learnt about their current inquiry programmes from reading the work proudly displayed on walls throughout the School. Inquiry learning is more than just gathering information; the process is as important as the outcome. 

At the heart of inquiry learning is a commitment to structured, purposeful questioning as the leading vehicle for teaching and learning. Inquiry gives ownership of learning to the students themselves, developing their research and critical thinking skills. It allows them to pursue their own interests and make meaningful connections with what they are doing – discovering that all learning across all disciplines is inter-related. 

When presented with the idea that the Expo is exclusive to Year 6, the boys were fired into action and quickly took ownership! They were inspired to take up the challenging task of going beyond their previous learning to develop new skills, while keeping the end result in mind – an exhibition intended for a wide audience. 

With the theme ‘Sharing the Planet,’ the boys worked in small groups of up to four to brainstorm which path their own inquiry would take. Firstly they picked an overall line of inquiry and from that each planned their own personal exploration within their chosen subject – these ideas were many and varied from world conflict, global warming and the effects of new technological practices such as drones, to deforestation, renewable energy, the plight of refugees, and the inequality of distribution and access to medication.

The boys were required to explore multiple perspectives, including going beyond the school gates to talk to experts in the wider community, conducting all the organisation and safety information for this to take place. Some boys arranged fantastic opportunities to talk to key people including scientists and business leaders to gain a deeper understanding of their chosen line of enquiry. As the projects got underway, they kept log books that recorded all their work and in the final stages, worked out how best to present their findings to engage an invited audience. 

Prior to the arrival of their visitors, Principal, Mr Peter Cassie visited the Expo and took the opportunity to grill the boys on their efforts. He said it soon became clear that deep and meaningful learning had taken place, developing skills for life. The boys were adept at articulating their learning and were also keen to comment on the step by step processes they had learned from the organisations they had spoken to, and the relevance of applying the same thinking to their own learning. 

The parents were invited to visit the Expo to view the boys’ displays and seek a deeper understanding of the different topics from the boys themselves.  In a frequently changing world, understanding how to inquire, how to sift through the ideas to make informed decisions is a valuable journey that these boys are just beginning to discover. The Expo brought all this into focus and the boys were very proud to present their learning to a wider audience. 


In an article in the Herald this week (26-09-2017), New Zealand's education system has been ranked top in the world for ‘educating for the future.’ Drawn from the white paper, Worldwide Educating for the Future Index  - a benchmark for the skills of tomorrow,’ created by  the London-based ‘The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’ and commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation, the study was developed to assess the effectiveness of education systems in preparing students for the demands of work and life in a rapidly changing landscape.

The ranking measures the extent to which young people in 35 countries learn six kinds of skills that are more about using information than rote-learning. The report says ‘content knowledge is becoming a commodity’ - now valued less than knowing how to use information.

It says the six key skills needed to ‘flourish’ are:

  • Interdisciplinary skills
  • Creative and analytical skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Digital and technical skills
  • Global awareness and civic education


‘The index highlights a widespread need for holistic educational techniques such as project-based learning, where students grapple with a subject (often of their own choosing) in great depth and with reference to several academic disciplines,’ it says.

The full article may be read here:


Click here to see more photos.

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