Hero photograph
Photo by Andrea Wall

Principal's Comment

Robin Sutton —

Kia ora koutou. Talofa. Kia Orana. Malo e lelei. Bula. Fakaalofa atu. Namaste. Kumusta. Haere mai ki Te Kura Huruhuru Ao o Horomaka. Warm greetings to the Hornby High School community.

As always, there is much to celebrate in terms of student achievement in our kura. We remain incredibly proud of our rangatahi as they increasingly strive for excellence in their academic, cultural, and sporting, endeavours. We have been posting links to some of the wonderful writing that our students have produced, and some of that writing gave me pause to make the comment on one student’s blog that at age 15 years I wasn’t even thinking at that depth, let alone writing like that. Last term yet again we saw some wonderful performances from our music and drama students, we see incredible work coming from our technology studios, and our students have once again begun to shine on the sports fields as sport has resumed post lockdown. Two teams of junior students engaged in the EPro8 Technology challenge, the best team coming 4th out of nearly 20 teams. Ka rawe!! We wonder if any of you as parents would enjoy the opportunity to have a go, get your hands on the fantastic EPro8 kit, and experience some of the technology challenges that your tamariki experience.

Beneath this a battle with poor behaviour from a very small number of our students, perhaps 10 or 15 students out of our 720. These few students absorb a huge amount of our time, and what is most noticeable is that in almost every case the behaviours that we have to deal with do not come from within our kura but from outside, from within the community and the home.

Regardless of age, one of the greatest sources of bad behaviour continues to be social media. Given the ways in which we are able to lock down internet access within school, almost without exception social media problems begin outside school hours, particularly at home. School aged children are not yet at that stage in life when they have a filter that limits what they say, and social media allows them to say what they like, when they like.

It is worth remembering that the legal terms and conditions applied to social media accounts generally prohibit any person from having an account until they are 13 years of age. Parents allowing that to happen are also most probably breaking the legally binding terms and conditions.

There’s that wonderful line from the Jeff Goldblum character in the Jurassic Park movie: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”. And so it is with people (children and adults alike sometimes) on social media. They assume that because they CAN say and show things as they like, that that is okay, that it is acceptable. It is not!

As parents and whānau we need to ‘own’ our children’s behavior. ‘Owning’ does not imply a blame game. Rather ‘owning’ your child’s behavior means accepting that they have behaved as they have, and that it is not okay. Owning our children’s behaviour is an important key to unlocking the solutions necessary to change that behaviour. Owning your child’s behaviour means that you open your mind to what needs to be done to allow your child to become that fully functioning, loving, caring person, that ‘kind’ person, who will be successful in life. This is well illustrated if we reflect on the problem of ‘bullying’. Bullies are not created in schools, bullies are created in homes and in our communities. Sadly it falls to schools to try to resolve the issues that are subsequently created by that bullying behaviour. There are never any winners in these circumstances.

Our children need love and kindness, they need manaaki and whanaunga, they need our aroha. Love for a child is unconditional. Our children will make mistakes. It is a natural part of their growth as their brains develop. It is our collective job to be there for them, to help them to learn what is right and wrong, but to still love them. Refusing to accept when our children have done wrong is not unconditional love. It is a failure of parenting.

I noted (and fully endorse) the recent call from the Principal of one of our Christchurch boys’ secondary schools about poor parent sports sideline behaviour, and about what is right and wrong. From amongst our own community I have never seen poor sideline behaviour at student sports matches, and in fact have witnessed outstanding examples of positive behaviour. This is the model that we need when it comes to all student behaviour.

We have recently seen the use of ‘whānau hui’ that have allowed whānau of children in conflict outside school to address the issues and work towards constructive solutions. Parenting is a lonely activity. Our children like to think that they can ‘pick us off’ by saying things like “all the other kids’ parents let them…’ and so on. This is almost always not true, and the best way to resolve this is for you all as whānau to talk with each other. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

Please make sure you follow us on Facebook for the latest and most up to date news https://www.facebook.com/hornbyhighschool/ , and on our website www.hornby.school.nz . You can also follow my thinking our education journey at Hornby High School, and more generally, on my blog at https://whakataukihewakaekenoa.blogspot.co.nz/

Kia tau te mauri

Robin Sutton