by St Paul's Collegiate School

Settling into 2020 - Headmaster's Pen

Five weeks into the new school year and routines have well and truly been established. Headmaster Grant Lander shares his optimism about the exciting year ahead.

We have made a superb start in our sixty-first year as a school; with a record roll, some impressive examination results and a number of exciting innovations and initiatives before us, over the next twelve months.

Confidence in the school is obviously strong. Our roll is the highest that it has been in the school’s history, with 751 students (up from 744 in 2019 and 722 in 2018). We have started the year with a Year 9 cohort of 130 students and with our biggest ever number of female students – 151. Encouragingly we continue to operate with small average class sizes at each of the Year levels: with 18 in Year 9, 19 in Year 10 core classes, 15.7 in Year 11, 14.7 in Year 12 and an average of 12.7 in Year 13 option classes.

In the most challenging of secondary school examinations, our seniors did very well, with eleven students gaining 26 subject Scholarships – Jana Stokes was named as a ‘Top Scholar’ after achieving four Scholarships (i.e. two of which were designated ‘Outstanding’), which places her as one of the top 58 academics in the country. Four others gained three or more Scholarships and will receive a ‘Scholarship Award’ – Simon Han (5 Scholarships), Henry Mandeno (4), Lucy Simmonds and Aaron Taylor (3 each).

In NCEA Level Three certificate, our pass rate at 90% was similar to previous years, with 44% of our students gaining a certificate endorsed with Merit or Excellence and 80% qualifying for University Entrance. At Level Two, 94% gained their national certificate, with 47% gaining either a Merit or Excellence endorsement. While at Level One, 94% gained their certificate and for 60% this was endorsed with Merit or Excellence. In Cambridge examinations, we had 100% pass rate for IGCSE Chemistry, English and Mathematics and 100% for AS Mathematics.

Over the December/January period our rowers, athletes, 1st XI and Colts cricketers, our Get-2-Go team and our musicians have spent a considerable amount of time in camps and competitions in preparation for the challenges of the New Year. In the NZSS Track and Field Championships in Wellington, our elite athletes gained twelve top-ten finishes. With Mattheus Pio (Gold 110m and 300m hurdles), Toby Robb (Silver junior boys’ javelin) and Campbell Robb (Bronze senior boys’ javelin) gaining podium finishes. Our combined St Paul’s/Dio Get-2-Go team for the third year finished fourth in New Zealand in the finals held at Great Barrier Island. Our 1st XI cricket side defeated a strong Auckland Division 1A, Mt Albert Grammar in two fixtures. While our rowers made 13 A finals and seven B finals and six crews were represented on the podium at the North Island Club Championships.

The Special Character highlight was the incredibly successful Mission and Outreach trip to Cambodia. Twenty-four of our seniors and four staff (Reverend Peter Rickman, Mr Chris Foot, Mrs Kerry Allen and Mr Tim Carpenter) spent two weeks working with young people in the slums of Phnom Penh. It proved a very confronting but hugely rewarding experience for all involved.

The first month has started extremely smoothly, especially given that we have been joined by 13 new teaching and nine new support staff. Prior to Auckland Anniversary Weekend, the full teaching staff from Hamilton joined with Tihoi staff for a two-day team-building, professional development programme down at our Venture School. The event was a great success and has given many a better understanding of the experience that our young men in Year 10 go through.

Staff retreat 2020 — Image by: St Paul's Collegiate School
Staff retreat 2020 — Image by: St Paul's Collegiate School

The hosting of the highly successful Athletics Championships; the Powhiri and welcome for new students and staff on the first day have proved real highlights. There is an excellent feeling around the school, and the student body have quickly settled into a productive, highly focussed pattern of work.