Learning at StAC

Te Ako ki StAC

Learning at St Andrew’s College is about teachers and students learning together. It’s about students knowing not just how to improve their knowledge and understanding, but also how to be more effective learners. We focus on quality teaching and learning which equips students with knowledge and skills for life.

"If we want our learners to be engaged, active, and collaborative in their learning, they need to embrace key competencies that equip them for the future."

David Bevin Head of Teaching and Learning (Secondary)
Middle School students in the quad.

Learning contexts

Our learning contexts ensure that every student grows and develops through academic, sporting, cultural, social, service and spiritual learning and experiences. Our belief is that through this holistic approach, young people will develop character, discover their own identity and passions, and at the same time learn to appreciate the perspectives of and differences in others.

Middle School students in the classroom.

Independent and interdependent learners

At StAC, we build independent and interdependent students who have the qualities needed for a changing world. We want our learners to have knowledge and skills, know how to apply the knowledge and, just as importantly, how to learn. How (what strategies to use and when) is just as important as 'the what'.

Preparatory students in the classroom.

Key competencies

Key competencies, which are managing self, thinking, using language, symbols, and texts, relating to others, and participating and contributing, are all foundations to learning at and beyond school. We provide a broad curriculum that caters for a diverse range of student needs and engaging learning experiences that are connected to a wider community make learning authentic.

Senior College students with a teacher in the classroom.

Learning objectives

Our aim is for students to understand what it means to be an effective learner. We want them to be independent, life-long learners. We want them to develop into adults who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to navigate their future with confidence. We want them to flourish.

Students with a teacher in class.

Inspiring teachers

Our teachers understand that learning is cognitive, emotional, and social. Informed by scientific research, they work to inspire students through a range of experiences. Passionate and skilled, they develop students’ capacity to self-manage, and foster creativity and critical thinking. As lifelong learners themselves, they work to enhance their own practice to meet diverse learner needs.

Meet some of our inspiring teachers

Boarding Director with students outside at table playing Jenga

Matt Parr

Director of Boarding

The Boarding Advantage is the ability to teach more than just a subject. It’s the ability to teach life skills, socialisation, interpersonal skills, and communication. Director of Boarding, Matt Parr, discusses our boarding community, connections with students and staff, and the benefits of being a boarder at St Andrew’s College.

Teachers with students talking outside of Centennial Chapel

Kerry Larby

Head of Well-being

At St Andrew’s College, we believe building character is just as important as developing intellect. Head of Well-being, Kerry Larby, discusses how students at St Andrew’s are supported to flourish, be who they are, and feel a sense of purpose and belonging, in a safe, engaging learning environment.

Teacher and students talking at table with robotics equipment

Wilj Dekkers

Former Head of Innovation and Information Services

In a world where technology continues to be a force for change, students at St Andrew’s College are being prepared to control and create future technology, rather than simply being users of it. Former Head of Innovation and Information Services, Wilj Dekkers, discusses the ways in which students are learning to collaborate, share ideas, and work in teams, to create exciting digital products.

Teacher in classroom with two students at desk

Helaina Coote

Assistant Head of Secondary School (Academic)

Assistant Head of Secondary School, Helaina Coote, explains how St Andrew’s College is harnessing the increasing body of research into what makes teaching and learning effective. With a diverse curriculum and programmes, and excellent support systems in place, students at St Andrew’s are able to maximise their learning potential, while maintaining a sense of belonging and purpose.

Sports teacher with students in PE uniform looking at game plan

Rod McIntosh

High Performance Sports Director

Sport is an integral part of life at St Andrew’s College. High Performance Sports Director, Rod McIntosh, explains how the College’s leading-edge, holistic programmes help our young sportspeople and athletes to be the best they can be, support their health and well-being, and develop character traits and strengths they will have for life.

Music teacher with students playing instruments

Duncan Ferguson

Head of Music

The Music Department at St Andrew’s College supports the interests of all young musicians, with all genres equally respected and resourced. Head of Music, Duncan Ferguson, discusses how individual programmes, state-of-the-art music suites and recording studio, and the use of exciting technologies and innovative teaching programmes at St Andrew’s, helps students to reach their full potential.

Chaplain in chapel with student holding offering pouch

Rev. Paul Morrow

College Chaplain

We want our students to leave the College open minded, free thinking, and consider diverse views. College Chaplain, Rev. Paul Morrow, discusses how St Andrew’s College’s Presbyterian Christian heritage, our values of truth, faith, excellence, inclusivity and creativity, our pastoral care and our community service opportunities, all support our students to develop an understanding and care for their community, and the greater world around them.

Students in science lab talking to teacher with microscopes

Kelly McBride

Head of Learning Enrichment (Preparatory School)

Learning Enrichment is a key part of the programme in the St Andrew’s College Preparatory School, which provides students with opportunities outside the normal curriculum to find their creative talents and passions. Head of Learning Enrichment, Kelly McBride, discusses how students are encouraged and supported to give new things a try, in a fun environment where they feel confident, secure and happy.

Reaching their potential

We have a ‘no one left behind’ policy at St Andrew’s College, which means every student is recognised as an individual and deserves the best possible educational experience we can provide. It is our job to make sure this happens for your child. We will be with them on every step of their learning journey, with our Pastoral, Well-being and Learning teams working in partnership to support them to reach their goals and unique potential.

Learning Support

The vision of our Learning Support team is to accelerate and support the learning of students experiencing challenges with their studies. Students will be supported in a safe, caring and non-judgemental environment. Simultaneously we foster independence so that no child is entirely reliant on the support provided. Our staff are aware that a culture of ‘learned helplessness’ is not advantageous to students in the long term. Our aim is to develop learners who are resilient and who embrace challenges in their learning journey.

Throughout the College, our Learning Support programme is run by highly qualified teachers whose fields of expertise include special education needs, thinking and learning extension programmes, and student counselling. Our staff aim to build self-esteem and confidence and support students to be independent and resilient learners.

In the Preparatory School, the programmes offered build self-esteem and address delayed learning. We have a full-time reading specialist and several teacher aides, and offer support in subjects such as reading, mathematics, spelling and writing. In the Secondary School, reading and language support is offered for students experiencing challenges and study support is available to senior students.

Preparatory students in class with a teacher.

Accelerated Learning Programme

St Andrew’s understands that students with learning delays must have their learning accelerated. We use the 'Morningside Model of Generative Instruction', an evidence-based programme of learning.

Originating in the United States, the 'Morningside Model’ develops students’ mastery of the fundamentals in mathematics, writing and reading. Click here for further information about the Morningside Programme.

Students in class.

ACEE Gifted and Talented Programme

It has long been accepted that gifted and talented students need extra support to reach their full academic, emotional, physical and social potential. At St Andrew’s College, we have a well-established Academic Extension and Enrichment (ACEE) programme. The programme recognises both performance and potential and recognises that a student’s gifts and talents will emerge at times and in circumstances which are unique to that student. High achievers in sport and culture are also well supported at St Andrew’s through a range of programmes and initiatives.

Curriculum enrichment is used widely across all year levels of the Preparatory School and is taught by specialist teachers in Physical Education, Religious Education, Spanish (Years 1–7), French (Year 8), Music, Dance and Drama, Art, Practical Science, Food and Materials Technology (Years 7–8). Future Problem Solving, Chess Club, Rotary Speech Competition, Kids Lit Quiz, Extension Mathematics, Otago Problem Solving, Code Club, 3D Design and Printing Club, D-Squared Drama Group, VEX IQ Robotics, ICAS and Australian Mathematics examinations, and Speech and Drama are some of the programmes offered to able students in the Preparatory School, along with a number of in school and after school clubs and competitions.

In the Middle School, students work with a specialist teacher and cover units based on philosophy, anthropology, coding and electronics, neuroscience, political science, sustainability, robotics, physics, and astrophysics. Students also have the opportunity to prepare for Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition, participate in the Model United Nations Conference (MUNA), the Model European Union Conference, compete in the Ethics Olympiad, and attend two philosophy conferences each year.

In the Senior College, although there are no timetabled ACEE classes, students are monitored and provided opportunities to deepen their learning and experiences through extension, enrichment and acceleration within specific learning areas, such as English, Mathematics and Science. Higher level extension can also be gained from enrolment in University of Canterbury STAR Programmes.

Future Problem Solving is regarded as one of the eight most appropriate programmes for extending Gifted and Talented students. Future Problem Solving is a challenging team and individual activity requiring a high level of abstract reasoning and thinking. St Andrew’s College offers both a competitive and non-competitive programme where Preparatory and Middle School students work through a problem solving process to create positive solutions to global issues such as Climate Change, Living in Space, Megacities and Enhancing Human Potential.

Students who are gifted and talented in sports will be catered for in our Elite Sports option. To find out more about our Elite Sports and High Performance Sports Programme, please click here.

Students working together by the Strowan stream

Learning with Technology

We prioritise future readiness and recognise the essential skills students need to thrive in an unpredictable world. Our philosophy centers around confidence, creativity, and critical thinking.

To equip our staff and students for the rapid digital transformation, we foster agility, flexibility, and innovation. Our Innovation and Information Centre empowers students not only to use technology fluently but also to create digital innovations and inventions.

Within our purpose-built centre, students can access cutting-edge fabrication equipment, including 3D printers and laser cutters. They engage in coding applications, crafting both simple and complex programs, designing games, and automating processes. Additionally, our active robotics teams span across the Preparatory and Secondary Schools, while external mentors bolster our Digital Technology programmes.

Students working on VEX robot in a group


At St Andrew’s College, we provide a safe and positive learning environment for our students, which promotes cybersafety and a learning and social environment free from unnecessary distractions.

Digital technology has opened up a world of possibilities for our children. At the same time, it has multiplied potential risks. Our goal is to protect every student from exposure to online threats – from inappropriate content to cyberbullying.

As students progress through the College, they are provided with different recourses to gain awareness of potential risks and corresponding risk mitigation strategies. We also provide parental resources and information evenings with guest speakers to better equip our parents/caregivers with the tools needed to support their child in this area.

Teacher and student working on a laptop in class.

StAC Unplugged

The StAC Unplugged initiative is intended to encourage more purposeful social interactions and the embracing of interpersonal relationships through person-to-person conversations. Introduced in 2020, students are not allowed to use their phones between 8.30am and 3.20pm. We have found that limiting the use of mobile phones in class and during break times minimises opportunities for inappropriate use and reduces the risk of unwarranted distractions. The College is also keenly aware of research that has shown clear links between obsessive social media usage and anxiety and depression. We also provide guidance to students regarding appropriate usage of modern technology and social media, both of which have a place under this initiative as well as in the world beyond the school gates.

Students playing with bubbles in the quad.

Preparatory School students sat in an Art lesson wearing aprons

The Preparatory School curriculum

Students outside Strowan House.

The Middle School curriculum

The Senior College curriculum