Schools Past, Present and Future

group of people wearing white and orange backpacks walking on gray concrete pavement during daytime

Image: Unsplash: School children

“Back to school, back to school,
Now the holiday’s done.
We love our teacher, we love our class,
We think our school work is fun!” (an old rhyme)

If it’s February, it must be back to school time! Ever since New Zealand was colonised in the late 1800’s, schools have been built around the country. Many early schools were small, single-room buildings with one teacher who taught everything to students of varying ages. There were strict rules on how to behave, and often physical punishment (usually a cane or leather strap across the hand – ouch!) was administered if you misbehaved! By around 1910, all children between seven and 14 had to attend school.  In 1913, secondary schooling became free to attend in New Zealand. Children who passed Standard 6 (Year 8) in a number of subjects were awarded Proficiency. This meant they could go onto high school.

Today New Zealand has over 2,500 primary and secondary schools.

Fun School Fact #1: Daily School Milk in NZ Schools

Milk In Schools | On 2 April 1937, the free milk in schools … | Flickr

Milk in Schools, 1937. Image: Flickr

New Zealand schoolchildren received free milk between 1937 and 1967. This scheme was introduced – a world first – to improve the health of young New Zealanders (and make use of surplus milk).

Each day, class milk monitors handed out a half-pint (284 ml) of milk to each pupil. By 1940 the milk was available to over 80 per cent of schoolchildren. For a few years during the Second World War, pupils also received an apple a day.

Fun School Fact #2: The world’s largest school

City Montessori School in Lucknow, India takes the prize as the largest school in the world. It has around 52,000 students (from kindergarten age through to secondary school) and 1,050 classrooms! Each class has around 45 students, and there is even a whole school department just to write letters of congratulations to students. As there are so many pupils, the school’s classrooms are spread across the city.

See if you can find the city of Lucknow in India on a world map HERE

Fun School Fact #3: Correspondence School | Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) is New Zealand’s largest school, providing education programmes to more than 23,000 students every year! The students learn remotely for lots of reasons – they  may live a long way away from their nearest school, or they might be living overseas with their family for a time.

The Correspondence School was established in 1922 to provide lessons to approximately 100 isolated primary school children scattered throughout New Zealand. All the lessons and letters to students were written by hand by the school’s first teacher, Miss Janet Mackenzie.

Check out Te Kura’s interesting timeline HERE.

What will schools look like in the future?

Today’s schools rely heavily on technology, from having laptops and tablets available to students for research, creative writing and presenting, to many schools requiring their students to BYOD – Bring Your Own Device… a far cry from slates and slate pencils in Victorian times (1830’s – 1910’s) and blackboards and chalk in 20th century schools!

boy wearing black and white VR headset

Image: Unsplash: VR headset

With multiple lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic, school students throughout the country (and the world) have already started to learn in different ways to even five years ago.  This includes virtual classrooms using online video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Teams, and having your own school online account and log-in to allow for work to be uploaded and submitted online.

Many schools and libraries already have Makerspaces offering everything from building blocks to 3-D printing, laser cutting and virtual reality headsets. Very soon we may see holograms being used to help with teaching, or maybe students will be taught by robots!


School Jubilee Histories – finding out about your school

Want to find out more about the history of the school you attend? Wellington City Libraries have a great online resource you could use. In our Wellington City Recollect page, we have a collection called School Jubilee Histories.

Here’s a step-by-step to help you find this page:

On the Wellington City Libraries main website page


Wellington City Libraries have got loads of books  about schools from around the world, the past and the future:

Schools : then & now / Hope, Charles
“Children have been going to school for thousands of years. While some things about schools are the same – teachers and students. Subjects and classrooms – in many ways the schools of today are different to the schools of the past.” (Catalogue)
My school in 2055 / Lewis, Carrie
“In the school of the future, children might use tech such as interactive screens, holo projectors, and virtual reality to set their own pace and make learning is personalized” (Catalogue)
A school like mine : a unique celebration of schools around the world / Smith, Penny
“Introduces children from around the world and describes what school life is like for them.” (Catalogue)
What’s for lunch? : how school children eat around the world / Curtis, Andrea
“An examination of the food consumption by school children in thirteen countries; focusing on school lunches, as well as the inequality of food and the importance of health, nutritious food.” (Catalogue)
Children just like me.
“Photographs and text depict the homes, schools, family life, and culture of young people around the world.” (Catalogue)
Off to class : incredible and unusual schools around the world / Hughes, Susan
“Travel around the globe to visit some of the world’s most incredible schools, and meet the students who attend them.” (Catalogue)
Bots! : robotic engineering : with hands-on makerspace activities / Ceceri, Kathy
“Robots are everywhere! In Bots! Robotics Engineering with Hands-On Makerspace Activities, middle schoolers learn about these devices that vacuum our houses, work in our factories, help us learn at school, sample rocks from other planets, and even bring back images from the bottom of the ocean. In Bots! you can find hands-on STEM activities, coding challenges that use free online software, essential questions, and links to online primary resources!” (Catalogue)
The makerspace librarian’s sourcebook
“This collection leads librarians through how to start their own makerspace from the ground up, covering strategic planning, funding sources, starter equipment lists, space design, and safety guidelines; discusses the transformative teaching and learning opportunities that makerspaces offer, with tips on how to empower and encourage a diverse maker culture within the library.” (Catalogue, abridged)

Comics and Graphic Novels: New Releases in November 2021

Hey Kids! Wellington City Libraries has some new children’s comics and graphic novels this month to keep you amused just in time for Summer. So what are you waiting for? Come on down to your local branch and borrow the following:

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Smurfs tales. 1.

“On the occasion of the all-new animated TV series starting on Nick this September, an all-new series of Smurfs graphic novels! The Smurfs are back in new stories in English for the first time! First, when Papa Smurf’s stork gets wounded in a storm, he must rely on the kindness of a local farmer to nurse the stork back to flying condition. A different kind of storm arrives in the shape of Johnny, the nephew of the farmer. The boy is as aggressive as his uncle is friendly. Making his way to the Smurfs Village, Johnny leaves a path of destruction in his wake, putting the whole village in jeopardy…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsMaking friends. [3], Third time’s a charm.

“Dany’s sketchbook is at it again, but this time it’s not Dany’s doing! Dany and Madison are living a new reality. Rather than best friends, the pair now believe they are twins — and that isn’t the only part of their lives that has been completely rewritten. […] Can the pair put things back the way they were, or is this magic beyond their control?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndeticsCat & cat. 4, Scaredy cat.

“After a long day of chasing around Sushi the cat, paying attention to Sushi the cat, and catering to Sushi the cat’s every whim, Sushi’s owner Cat and her dad get exhausted. But you did know that cats are nocturnal, right? And when Cat and her dad are away, sleeping, Sushi the cat will play… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsGrumpy monkey. 1, Freshly squeezed.

“Jim Panzee is out for his usual Wednesday walk when he accidentally squishes his stress orange into orange juice. He and his friends must cross the jungle before all of the fresh oranges are gone” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsCity of Dragons: The Awakening Storm.

“When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and new stepdad, her biggest concern is making friends at her fancy new boarding school. But when a mysterious old woman gifts her a dragon egg during a field trip, Grace discovers that the wonderful stories of dragons she heard when she was a young girl might actually be real – especially when the egg hatches overnight. The dragon has immense powers that Grace doesn’t understand. And that puts them both in danger from mysterious forces intent on abusing the dragon’s power.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Baby-sitters Club. 10, Kristy and the snobs.

“This graphic novel adapted by rising cartoonist Chan Chau is now available in full colour! Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are best friends and founding members of The Babysitters Club. Whatever comes up, you can count on them to save the day. Kristy’s family moves to a new neighborhood where the kids make fun of Louie, Kristy’s pet collie, who’s going blind. The Baby-sitters are not going to let them get away with it.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsSunny makes a splash.

“It’s summer, and Sunny is BORED. Most of her friends are out of town. Her mom wants her to baby-sit way more than Sunny wants to baby-sit. There’s nothing good on TV. The only place that’s cool (in a not-boring sense) and cool (in a not-hot sense) is the community pool. Sunny loves going there . . . and loves it even more when she’s offered a job at the snack shack. Soon she’s flinging fries and serving soft ice-cream like a pro . . . with the assistance of the very sweet boy who works with her. Sunny’s mom isn’t sure Sunny should be quite so independent. But Sunny is definitely sure: Life is best when it’s free swim.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBaby-sitters little sister [4] : Karen’s Kittycat Club.

“Karen wants to start her own club! Karen’s best friend Hannie just got an adorable new kitten. Their neighbor Amanda has a cat, too, and Karen has grumpy old Boo-Boo. Now that they all have cats, Karen comes up with a great idea. She wants to start a Kittycat Club! What will the club do? Karen can’t baby-sit like her big sister Kristy… but she can cat-sit! Will anyone want to hire Karen and her friends?” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBeak & Ally. [1], Unlikely friends.

“Ally the alligator is perfectly happy being alone… until one day a noisy bird named Beak lands on her snout. Much to Ally’s annoyance, this chatty bird likes to sing all the time and has chosen a nearby tree to build his new nest. Even worse, he insists that he and Ally will be best friends. In fact, he has all kinds of friendship goals in mind, and it seems nothing Ally says will convince him that she’d rather just be alone. Nothing beats peace and quiet… except for maybe a new best friend?” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBeak & Ally. 2, Bedtime jitters.

“With weird swamp noises swirling around him, Beak the Bird cannot get any sleep until his friend Ally the alligator shows him where the racket is coming from.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBig Nate Aloha!

“Aloha can mean hello or goodbye–which makes it the perfect word for sixth grader Nate Wright. Why? Because Nate doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. Will his romance with Daisy sizzle or fizzle? Will his hair survive Teddy’s cut-rate barber skills? And when Nate spots a crime in progress at Klassic Komix, can he find his inner superhero?” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe spellbinding episodes of Phoebe and her unicorn.

“A deluxe bind-up featuring all the comics from two different Phoebe and Her Unicorn books: Unicorns vs. Goblins and Razzle Dazzle Unicorn . In these spellbinding adventures, nine-year-old Phoebe Howell and her unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, explore the possibilities of friendship, summer camp, the holidays, and even founding their own detective agency. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsAbsolutely Nat.

“Natalie has just arrived at summer camp and soon realizes it isn’t anything like the brochure. Instead of spending the summer with her best friends, Zoe and Flo, Natalie is stuck with her ex-BFF, Lily, and someone even more annoying than the endless mosquitoes: Millie Flatbottom. Even worse, she’s constantly pushed out of her comfort zone and forced to come face-to-face with some of her greatest fears. Although summer camp isn’t at all what Natalie expected, could it be exactly what she needs?” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.