Dear Parents and Caregivers, Well, I have to say that it feels great to reach the end of term.
Term two is always a busy term in the school calendar, and this one was certainly no different, with our school production of The Addams Family, winter sports, cultural events, open night, and of course shift up in gears with NCEA assessments. I am sure that your children will be looking forward to a break from school and a chance to recharge their batteries.
It is an incredibly busy time in education. We are currently looking at changes in our qualifications system to enhance NCEA and improve outcomes for our students. These changes are to be implemented for our current Year 9 cohort and will be in place in 2023. This means that teachers are having to reassess their course and, in some cases, subjects will be removed as options in Year 11, for example, Media Studies and Classics. This has multiple flow-on effects for the School, including having to evaluate our current timetable. I would like to say that things are going smoothly, and whilst our teachers are fully committed to the change and the work needed, the support from NZQA has not been the best and we have felt somewhat let down by the lack of preparation and organisation of the institutions that are leading this change. I imagine what will happen is that teachers will end up working exceptionally hard to make sure the outcomes for your children are positive and the opportunities are in place to ensure their success.
Currently, our school is also engaged with the Education Review Office (ERO). ERO has also decided to implement a change in the way that they evaluate the schools, and we are one of the first schools to go through this change in practice. The shift in mindset is away from evaluating schools, to working with schools to improve outcomes for students and is a long-term approach of continuous evaluation, rather than a single evaluation every three to five years. The model is certainly a good one, however as they are learning as they go, neither ERO nor the school knows what it actually looks like. I personally find it a little frustrating as, I am sure you will be aware, our approach is to find a focus and then plan, plan, plan. Looks like we will be building the plane as we go!
We have engaged with the Ministry of Education to start a review of our school roll for the purpose of triggering a new classroom block. Currently, our school role sits at 955 students, with almost half that number in the junior school. The current capacity of our school is 1145 students. If our enrolments continue as they are (260 in Year 9 this year), with the flow-on effect of high junior numbers moving into the senior school, we will reach this capacity in 2023. These numbers come on the back of our local Minister of Parliament, Matt Doocey, talking about the need for more capacity in our region, and should eventuate in the building of our third classroom block sometime in the near future. North Canterbury is certainly seen as a great place to live and the numbers in the area are increasing dramatically. There is certainly a great deal of work and negotiations still to do, but the future certainly looks very promising.
It is amazing how quickly time goes by in a school. Our Year 9 students are already halfway through their first year of high school, our Year 10s have only a half year of ‘freedom’ left before they enter into their national qualifications years, and our senior students have only 12 weeks of school left before they finish for examinations. For the parents of our senior students, the end of this term is a great time to sit down with your children and talk to them about their credits to date. This information can be found on both the school portal and the NZQA website. I personally feel (as I have a son in Year 11) that there are two areas to look at when discussing this:
1. How many credits to date.
We do need to be careful of this as some students have subjects that do not have credits until the end of the year (e.g. Art) and that makes it hard to give a definite number of credits your children should have at this point in time. A better way is to have a look at the balance of credits gained versus the credits lost. For example, if student A has 25 credits and 0 at Not Achieved, then they are progressing well. If student B has 30 credits and 25 at Not Achieved, then there is an issue and it would be a good idea to get in touch with the tutor teacher.
2. Keep an eye on the Merits and Excellences.
Just a reminder, you need 50 credits at Excellence to gain an Excellence endorsement. You need 50 credits with Merit or Excellence to gain a Merit endorsement. Considering that the average amount of credits a subject offers is around 20, it is a good idea to follow the same process as the point above to gauge how your children are going. Once again, any concerns or if you simply want to check, get in touch with the tutor teacher and they will help you out.
I hope you get to spend some time with your family over the break, maybe even a trip to the islands??!!
Stay safe and stay well.
Bruce Kearney, Principal