Hero photograph
Photo by Joe McMenamin

Naenae College 2015

John Russell —

Every year the spirit of Te Whanau Tahi continues to strengthen in the school. This culture is nurtured and feed daily by the staff and widely supported by students and has ripple effects well beyond the school gates.

Principal’s Foreword for 2015 Magazine

Every year the spirit of Te Whanau Tahi continues to strengthen in the school. This culture is nurtured and feed daily by the staff and widely supported by students and has ripple effects well beyond the school gates. It is a source of pride and it’s what gets me up in the mornings. We recently received the data back from the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health project. Students in schools throughout the country were surveyed. The data clearly shows our community to be in far better shape that the stereotypical image of Naenae in the heads of the uninformed. We sit significantly above the national average on all the positive indicators. We have higher than average levels of participation in sports and clubs and more positive belonging and relationships. Students are more interested and motived to learn. They value school outcomes, feel safer at school and going to and from school, are encouraged at home and in the community and enjoy positive student teacher relationships and encouragement at school.

We were well below average on all the negative indicators; less depression, less anxiety, less bullying, less smoking, less drugs and alcohol and less truancy and lateness. This data is all very encouraging. It is fair to say that this was not the picture five years ago and we should take heart and be collectively proud of the progress made as a whole community.

Our 2015 learning journey has been exciting and productive. We have been working on our Big Picture Schooling model since 2013. It is all about connecting the heart, the head and the hands. It is about strong patterns of belonging, deep relationships and working to students’ passions, connecting to the world beyond school. This year we have focused on developing an inquiry based learning model in the junior school. For five weeks at the beginning of Term 3 all Year 9 students engaged in personalised inquiries on the theme of ‘think global, act local’. This provided the opportunity to connect with the wider environment, use technology smartly, and to be responsible, active and interactive learners. This was a great learning experience for both staff and students and culminated in a presentation day for parents and whanau. We shall continue to develop this in the years ahead.

We are now ready to fully implement our Big Picture schooling model in 2016. This includes moving to three 90 minute teaching periods each day for everyone and strengthening vocational pathways for students in the senior school with some students doing whole day learning two days per week.

We are remarkably fortunate to have long serving and very dedicated parents on the Board of Trustees, ensuring a strong sense of unity of purpose and direction through good strategic planning, policy and resource management as well as daily active involvement in the life of the college. They lead with coherence and courage, committed to strong principles of inclusiveness and equity of outcomes for all. The Board has committed to forming a ‘Community of Learners’ with our local contributory schools under the Government’s new ‘Increasing Educational Success’ programme. This is a long term commitment that will strengthen our total community capacity to work collaboratively to improve learning outcomes for all our children from early childhood through to the completion of secondary schooling.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to have the 16 prefects as my Roopu. They have been outstanding contributors, well lead by Rajan and Shanelle. Each whanau has further developed its own identity and pride and the inter-whanau competitions have been strongly contested. Congratulations to Tokomanawa who emerged the victors with all the others very close behind.

Thank you to the editorial team who have committed time and care into capturing the highlights of 2015 and of course congratulations to everyone whose achievement is noted. A special thanks to all staff, board members and student leaders who have worked so enthusiastically to make 2015 a memorable year. We have taken another step forward. Well done everyone!

John Russell