Our Programme

Upper Primary School

In the Upper Primary learning is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant. The programme has a transdisciplinary approach meaning that learning is arranged around six significant and globally relevant themes: Who we are; How we organise ourselves; Where we are in place and time; How the world works; How we express ourselves; and Sharing the planet.

Ākonga explore big concepts through different subject lenses and are encouraged to make connections across, as well as within, subject areas, wherever possible. Subject groups within the PYP that are taught in the Upper Primary include: languages, mathematics, science, the arts, social studies, religious education and personal, social and physical education. The program of inquiry is carefully planned by kaiako and is designed to give ākonga the skills to take the lead in their own learning. Together with our ākonga we establish what each taitamaiti (child) knows, what knowledge they have access to, and what knowledge they can build. We explore the world in which we live, ask questions, make discoveries and develop new understandings.

Self-esteem is an important part of education and is addressed in the learning of our ākonga . In the Upper Primary we continue to build upon the strengths and give ākonga the confidence to overcome their weaknesses. In doing so, we aim to achieve a positive learning environment where success is constantly attainable.

Years 5 & 6

As ākonga transition into the Upper Primary, they are encouraged to develop greater independence and self-management skills.

Teachers work in collaboration to ensure that ākonga across year levels receive a consistent program and support them as they begin to take more responsibility for their learning.

Years 7 & 8

The ‘big picture’ focus of the programme in the senior years at St Mark’s is to prepare ākonga for their transition to secondary school. This is achieved through the delivery of effective teaching and learning opportunities that give ākonga a chance to develop their inquiries further.

We are interested in ākonga developing positive approaches to learning (ATL). Learning reaches beyond the acquisition of knowledge and continues to develop ākonga with the attitudes, skills and conceptual thinking that will assist them now and in the future. The ultimate intention of ATL is to develop self-regulated, communicative, investigative, perceptive, socially astute ākonga through skill-based, process-focused teaching.


Student leadership is a very important part of life at St Mark’s School. Ākonga in Year 7 have the opportunity to begin this journey through their participation in the William Pike Challenge; this is a year-long program where ākonga, through participation in outdoor activities, community service and passion projects start to recognise the qualities it takes to be a leader.

All Year 8s are considered leaders in the school and they extend their capabilities by accepting leadership roles. Leadership roles in Year 8 meet a variety of needs, such as looking after events at the School, the weekly Chapel service, developing sport, music and the performing arts, and assisting in the running of the science, technology, art room and library.


Ākonga in Year 8, who are in their final year of the PYP, carry out an extended, collaborative inquiry project, known as the PYP Exhibition, under the guidance of their teachers. The PYP Exhibition represents a significant event in the life of both the school and ākonga, synthesising the essential elements of the PYP and sharing them with the whole school community. It is an opportunity for ākonga to exhibit the attributes of the Learner profile that have been developing throughout their engagement with the PYP. It is a culminating experience marking the transition from PYP to further steps in education. Ākonga are given considerable flexibility in their choice of real-life issues or problems to be explored or investigated in the Exhibition.

Beyond St Mark’s

The senior years at St Mark’s School ensure that ākonga are well-prepared for the transition to secondary school. At the end of Year 8, all of our tamariki will move to college for Year 9. During Year 8, secondary schools will make contact − sharing information and talking with Year 8 staff to prepare for their transition. To assist in the transition orientation, ākonga will have the opportunity to attend open days and ‘school in action’ sessions. These may include: tours of the secondary school; providing transition and school specific information in verbal and written formats; testing to establish current levels in some core subjects and activities to promote familiarity with the new school environment.