A start of year update from Headmaster
Dear Parents and Caregivers
We have started the new academic year in a most positive and encouraging manner, with the highest school roll in our history, 794 students. In 2020 we had a roll of 751, 744 in 2019, and 718 in 2018. We have adopted this strategy to partially offset the huge loss of income that we have experienced in having only 21 international students compared to the normal 40 that we would typically have. Confidence in the school is obviously strong with 182 female students, the biggest number we have also ever had.
Continued small class sizes despite a record roll
Encouragingly, we have maintained our ongoing commitment to small classes in each of the Year levels; with a cohort of 116 boys in seven classes at Year 9, we have respectable numbers in each, ranging from 14 to 18, and average class size at Year 9 of 16 boys. At Year 10, with a cohort of 141 students (i.e. half at the Venture school and half at our Hamilton campus), we have four classes of 18 boys at Hamilton. In Year 11, we have a cohort of 183 (i.e. almost exactly the same size as 2020), with an average class size of 16 and only 17 of the 67 option classes with 19 or more students. In Year 12, the overall cohort is 201, of whom 66 are girls. Twenty-two of the 70 option classes have 19 students or more, with an average of 15.6 per class. While at Year 13, we have a moderate cohort with 153 students. Just 15 of the 58 option classes have 19 students or more, with an average class size of 13.5 students.
Impressive examination results
Our seniors have achieved some of the best ever results in the challenging external examinations.
A highlight has been Joanna Li’s (Year 11) exceptional performance in the recent Cambridge International examinations. In the Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry examination, Joanna was Top in the World with her 99% result – the learner who achieved the highest standard mean mark in the world in the subject of Chemistry. This is an incredible achievement and a first for a student of our school. Last year, more than one million students sat Cambridge examinations in more than 10,000 schools in countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, China, India, Singapore, as well as throughout Europe, South America, and the Middle East. Joanna’s feat will be appropriately recognized at a special awards ceremony to be held in Auckland on 18 February. Joanna impressively gained a 98.5% average in her IGCSE Chemistry, English, and Physics examinations and has a great academic future ahead of her.
Overall we gained our best ever collective set of results. In NCEA Level One, 97% of our students gained their certificate but even more impressive was the quality of the grades – 26% did so with an Excellence endorsement (i.e. 18% in 2019) and 48% with Merit endorsement (i.e. 46% in 2019). With 74% gaining the qualification with an endorsement (i.e. 64% in 2019) – this compares favourably with the average of 57% gaining endorsement in Decile 8-10 schools and the 44% for students nationally. In the demanding IGCSE qualification, 51% gained an ‘A’ or ‘A*’ grade (i.e. higher than 80%) compared with 31% in 2019.
In NCEA Level Two, 96% gained their certificate at this level (i.e. 95% in 2019) but again the quality of the results saw 17% gain an Excellence endorsement (i.e. 15% in 2019) and 36% Merit endorsed (i.e. 32% in 2019). The figure for overall endorsement (i.e. 53%) was once again significantly above that for Decile 8-10 schools. While in AS Level English and Mathematics, 100% of our students passed.
In NCEA Level Three, 98% of our students gained their certificate (i.e. 92 in 2019), and 84% gained the more demanding tertiary entry (i.e. 80% in 2019), 20% gained their Level Three with Excellence endorsement, and 35% with Merit endorsement.
The amazing thing is that these results were gained in a year of significant disruption due to the COVID-19 lockdown and the uncertainty around learning during the pandemic. Our senior students should be incredibly proud of the resilience, courage, and persistence that they showed over the year. Regrettably, this has not, it appears, been replicated particularly in many of the more socially and economically disadvantaged schools around the country.
With recent events in Northland and Albany, we continue to ensure that we have the best processes and procedures in place in terms of our COVID preparedness.
At Alert Level One, we continue to encourage students and staff:
- To stay at home if they feel unwell.
- Sanitise and wash hands regularly.
- Monitor our supplies of PPE gear and ensure that all Year 9 and new girls have access to cloth facemasks should we shift to Alert Level 2 (i.e. remembering that we attempted to re-collect in the two cloth facemasks that were issued to Year 10, Year 11 boys, Year 12 and 13 students late in Term 3).
- COVID tracer app. We have created a number of different QR tracer apps for different locations around the school (i.e. for parents whose children have swimming lessons at the pool, for boarding parents dropping their son/daughter off in one of the Houses, or for those who go to the school shop or the main Reception). This will, we believe, more accurately reflect movements around the campus. All those visiting the school and who get out of their motor vehicle must scan the respective app for their destination at St Paul’s.
- Given the recent incident where a person leaving managed isolation appears to have caught the virus and then entered the community, we have revised our procedures and until further notice:
- Any student/staff member who has traveled internationally and has been in quarantine, must complete a further stand-down of seven days and complete one negative test during this time.
In 2020, we were very pleased with our response to DLD (Distance Learning Delivery). Over the next fortnight, we want to bring students (i.e. particularly those new to the school) up-to-date with our Google classroom and Google meet system. All staff have had retraining in recent weeks. We had scheduled a DLD Day for 24 March, but after the recent events, we have decided to shift this forward to Wednesday, 24 February. So instead of boarders returning on the evening of Tuesday 23 February following the exeat weekend, they will be due back at 8.00 pm on Wednesday. On Wednesday, all students will have six periods of digital lessons in their homes (i.e. this will enable us to test residential internet capacity). Normal face-to-face lessons will recommence on Thursday, 25 February. Year 9 boarders will continue with the scheduled in-weekend on Saturday, 27, and Sunday, 28 February.
The first couple of weeks of term have gone well. Girls camp proved a great success despite inclement weather down at Tihoi. We were impressed with the stoic fortitude of the girls in the wet conditions. Some excellent foundations for future friendships have been forged. While last week the students settled quickly into a productive and highly focused approach towards their studies and have settled into school routines well. This past weekend’s boarders’ in-weekend went extremely well and the 328 boarders were very positive and cooperative in the way they embraced the activities on offer.
We hope that as a school we have started the way we will continue over the year and we look forward to many other cultural, sporting, and academic highlights over the next ten months.
With kind regards