Teaching reinvented: Read&Write helps every student achieve at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.
Opened in 2014, Hobsonville Point Secondary School (HPSS) is a state coeducational secondary school with a roll of over 450 students, located in the Auckland suburb of Hobsonville.
Founded under the banner ‘Innovate, Engage, Inspire’, HPSS is committed to empower young people with the lifelong skills to contribute confidently and responsibly in a changing world.
“Building a brand new school at Hobsonville Point gave us the exciting opportunity to re-imagine secondary education” says Deputy Principal Diane Cavallo. “Rather than just tweaking an old model from the Victorian era, we had the chance to reinvent learning as a personalised experience, listening to the voice – and the choices – of every student.”
Characterised by Diane as ‘a totally online school’, HPSS boasts an impressive IT infrastructure. Digital resources are integrated seamlessly with traditional pen-and-paper methods in a totally blended learning environment. Every student brings their own laptop or tablet to classes: “You won’t find so many textbooks here”, notes Diane. “All learning materials are available online – it’s a reflection of how kids live their lives today.”
Tech also plays a big part at HPSS in helping students who may have challenges engaging with ‘ordinary’ educational strategies.
“We take a lot of care to tailor our programmes to help every child” explains Priority & Supported Learning Leader Vanna Blucher, who emphasises the value of assistive technology at HPSS:
“We’re a very Google-apps focused school, running sessions through Google Classroom” she explains. “Supporting this, we’ve made Texthelp’s Read&Write available on every device so it’s constantly accessible to all our students.”
Vanna cites features of the all-one-one toolbar that are particularly popular with her students, including Read&Write’s screen reader and highlighter functions. “There’s also the Picture Dictionary that’s great for younger kids. With Read&Write it’s all about removing barriers to learning for every student, regardless of their needs.”
The school’s impressive resources – and its commitment to realising every student’s personal learning journey – has even prompted one parent to relocate from Australia to New Zealand with her own family. An Assistive Technology consultant by profession, Kate Spragg has two sons at the school who are both dyslexic. “At Hobsonville Point they do things differently”, she enthuses. “Every student is encouraged to play to their strengths and empowered to make their own choices.”
As Kate stresses, assistive technology is being seen increasingly as a tool that can help every pupil. “AT can be used by all kinds of students, and in all kinds of ways – whether it’s simply helping with access, or encouraging a naturally able child to really stretch themselves.”
Kate recalls the ‘light bulb moment’ of her older son’s first experience with Read&Write. “I could suddenly see him working in a totally different way that really suited him”. She particularly highlights the software’s flexibility that encourages each student to capitalise on their personal strengths.
“My younger son – who’s also dyslexic – is very verbal. He finds writing long passages tiring and frustrating, but Read&Write’s voice note feature lets him articulate his ideas. The teachers are wowed by the clarity of his ideas: Read&Write helps him capture and express them.”
Kate also appreciates the unique customisation abilities offered by Read&Write. “It’s great being able to strip the toolbar right down just to focus on one or two functions without being distracted by other stuff. Then as kids get older they can expand the toolbar and explore its other functions at their own pace.”
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