Tēnā koutou katoa,
Welcome back to Term 2 of the school year. I hope you all had a lovely break with whānau - we all certainly needed a good rest after the challenges thrown at us all by Omicron. I had a fabulous break over in Australia, spending time with my family after such a long time apart. It certainly reminded me of the importance of whānau, and drove home the key role connection makes in keeping us all feeling balanced and whole. Hopefully you all had a chance to spend time with whānau and friends, and recharge your batteries.
As we move into a new term, we are now operating under Orange level in the Covid Protection Framework. This means some changes to the way we operate; please read through the article contained in this digest about life at Amesbury in orange level, so that you are aware of any changes. We can now start to hold some events and gatherings that bring parents and whānau back on site again, which is wonderful. Given that we are heading into a winter term however, we are remaining cautious. We will look to organise events and activities that avoid too many people in any one indoor space, as this will impact our ability to distance. We will also continue to require mask wearing by all adults when indoors. This will mean that events such as our Mihi Whakatau and our learning celebrations will go ahead but will look different from past events, as we will not have parents and students all in the hall at the same time together. However, it is still a positive step forwards to be able to welcome parents back on site for gatherings, and we very much look forward to seeing you at various events over the coming weeks.
Having recently talked with a parent about how the parent donation system works, it would be good to explain how school donations will be used this year at Amesbury School. Parent donations are voluntary, and are used to help fund the ongoing day to day operations of a school. As we are a decile 10 school, we cannot be part of the Donation Scheme which runs for decile 1-7 schools, where schools can choose to accept additional funding rather than request parent donations. Therefore we do have a donation system where parents can pay a voluntary amount per child.
At Amesbury School this year we are using money raised from parent donations to help fund several key areas. The main area our donations help to fund is additional staffing. As a school, we employ additional teachers over and above the number of teachers we are staffed for by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry staffs schools on specific ratios:
Year 1 = staffed on a ratio of one kaiako per 15 ākonga
Year 2-3 = staffed on a ratio of one kaiako per 23 ākonga
Year 4-6 = staffed on a ratio of one kaiako per 29 ākonga
As a school board, we believe that lower ratios help teachers to personalise learning and support ākonga more in their learning, and so we fund a number of additional teachers ourselves to ensure our ratios are lower. Right across the school our ākonga-teacher ratios are quite a bit lower than MoE staffing ratios, and this is used flexibly to ensure students are in smaller groups with teachers when the learning they are doing would benefit from small numbers, and they may be in larger groups when that works well for the learning that is happening. Parent donations help to fund some of this additional staffing across the school.
This year another area that is being supported by parent donations is a six week module of sports coaching in Term 3. With our school hall being used as a learning space until our new building is completed, we do not have access to the hall for PE and sports. In summer this is fine, as PE and movement can happen outdoors, but in winter this option is often not available. We look to ensure that there are other options available during these times. In Term 3 this year the school will be paying for a 6 week sports coaching module at ASB Centre for all students. Income raised through donations will help with this. Each team will head to the centre once a week for coaching in two sports options - ākonga will be able to choose from a range of sports options. The ASB Centre coaching was very popular when we did it several years ago, and we are really looking forward to doing it again.
So, another busy and exciting term ahead. We are looking forward to having a wider range of events and activities this term, now that Red level restrictions have ended, and I look forward to seeing many of you around school as this is all happening.
Ngā mihi nui,