Hero photograph
Photo by Sandra McKernan

Headmasters Message

John Laurenson —

Dear Parent and Caregivers

Greetings, tena koutou katoa, talofa lava.

It’s been just over a year since the Ministry of Education took School Transport back under its management umbrella and with this change, the appointment of a Regional Transport Advisor for Canterbury, Craig Reynolds (DDI +6433787309 Mobile +64 27 568 8963) has also been completed.
In the past year, he has managed to make contact with all schools receiving School Transport Assistance and that focus continues into the next 12 months. The vision is to provide Safe, Effective and Efficient School Transport that is valued by our community and is well and truly entrenched in all daily practices.

He has asked that I include the following message for all members of our community.

“As part of our vision, it is important we communicate some important messages relating to our School Transport services and the important role we have in conveying students to school. Key information can be found on our School Transport link in the Education website: www.education.govt.nz/school/running-a-school/school-transport/. Of particular note that we believe is an important reminder to your community, the law in which vehicles passing a stationary school bus must not exceed 20 kilometres per hour. A reminder in your next newsletter or caregiver correspondence would go a long way to assisting in a safer journey for your students.”

Shirley has been concentrating on improving it's career advice to students. Our pathway into technical training is broad and rightly so, there is much room for advancement in a world obsessed with technological advancement. When we were looking at options for our school, during the pre-building stage I spent time in Melbourne looking at options for our soon to be rebuilt school.  While such visits targeted specific schools, the last time I was there I spent a lot of time in Melbourne University, one of the top universities in Australia. It has a slightly larger number of students than the University of Auckland, a budget nearly two times larger than Auckland, and a ranking consistently in the top 50 in the world. Melbourne has, as part of its philanthropic campaign, expressed the belief that "Australia deserves a university equal to the best in the world". Most people would agree that New Zealand also deserves a world-leading university, but many would do so without asking themselves exactly why. The need to out-do the Aussies doesn't seem quite enough, (though it might be a good start?).

The real reason for being ambitious about the state of our universities is that the growth of any society requires the creation of knowledge, a process we call research; and of course most research is conducted by universities or by people who come from universities. Research universities are therefore unique institutions that need to be valued accordingly. So, we might ask ourselves, what does it take to ensure that New Zealand has and continues to have a university that is genuinely world class?

The recipe, not surprisingly, is quite simple. The first essential is top academics. These are the people who create the bold new ideas to change society for the better. Many are home-grown but others are attracted from overseas, contributing to New Zealand's brain gain. The next imperative is a large number of very able students. Research universities should be constantly challenging the status quo, and this is a particular characteristic of the vibrant and innovative thinking associated with young people.

Next come the resources that enable these people to do what they do best, to develop and exchange new ideas, to run their research programmes, and to travel so that they may engage with colleagues in similar leading institutions overseas.

The final requirement is a campus environment that encourages these highly accomplished academics and researchers to communicate and collaborate, bringing new ideas into being and creating great opportunities for our country. Since that is just the kind of environment that will keep these people in the University, the ideas they create are more likely to remain connected to our country, creating long-term benefits for social and economic development and employment.

Among New Zealand tertiary institutions, the University of Auckland is the most highly-ranked international research university, as shown once again in the latest QS World University Rankings, released last year, however all of our universities are able to aspire to be in the list of top performing institutions, and this is because we have a number of advantages, including:

• A large number of top academic researchers already in the country.

• High student entry standards, indeed amongst the highest in Australasia.

•A high degree of connectivity through our international students, collaborators and Networks.

And where do schools such as ours fit in?  The answer to that question is simple.  We must have High Performance aims and outcomes, NCEA at excellence level for Level 1, 2, and 3, and also a standard for ourselves that judges our level of excellence achieved by the number of scholarships obtained, and by the number of "outstanding"  achieved in scholarship examinations.

I can be blunt about this.  Beyond winning games on the sporting fields (and I do not deny that is important), success in academic work is what really separates the good from the great. On the cultural front Ken Hudson’s adaption of a “A Tale of Two Cities” was well received and I do congratulate all involved.

On the sporting front we have,  as usual,  several of our top teams competing in National Tournaments this week. Good luck to all.

Best Wishes

John Laurenson.