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From the tumuaki | principal 2023 Term 1 Week 8

Andy England —

Amazing runners in Year 7, some issues to discuss and another possible strike day next Wednesday

Tēnā tātou (hello to all of us)

Congratulations to our young runners, Ben Morten and Oscar le Compte, who placed first and second in the Geraldine Multi Challenge event this week.

I’m excited about the education outside of the classroom (EOTC) next week with Geography going to Aoraki | Mt Cook and Social Studies taking all Year 10s to Ōnuku / Akaroa.

The PPTA have just announced another possible strike day - next Wednesday 29 March. Confirmation is not expected until Monday. Assuming it does go ahead, we will handle this like we did the last one: school will be closed for classes/assessments (although the planned fieldtrips and any Trades days will go ahead); all students 14 and over stay home, please let us know any students under 14 who will need to be supervised at school by our non-PPTA teachers and Teacher Aides.

This week I’ve spent extra time walking around school, taking in our environment and talking with students and staff. So many of our students make the most of school and display our values proudly, I always enjoy this part of my job. I believe, as I’ve said before, that our community is a ‘sweet spot’ of rural values with access to the city.

Over the last two-three weeks, though, like many schools, we’ve seen a strange spike in male violent behaviours. Mostly, it’s been a boy lashing out physically but a few cases have been planned fights and in these cases other students have been involved by encouraging and filming. It is not many boys involved compared to the number of boys in the school, and most get on with their games and social times at breaks not even knowing about it, but it’s enough of a range that I want to be open about it and ask for your help to reinforce with your child that it is illegal to physically assault someone; importantly, it makes school feel unsafe for people and it won’t be tolerated here. Violence is the sort of behaviour that can lead to people not being employable. Students know the school’s expectations for behaviour, they know that they should talk to you at home and seek help from any staff, but in some cases they don’t.

We are trying to determine root causes - is there more we can do, or do differently - and one thing that stands out is cellphone use: messaging in and outside of school tends to build tension between students and - in school - phones can be used to coordinate all sorts without staff knowledge. Watching for students using phones in class sounds easy, but it isn’t. There is mounting evidence of the serious harm done by cellphone use in childhood/teenage years, with social media firms being sued overseas for the harm they know that they cause. We will consult with our community on banning cellphones from school which is not only related to antisocial behaviours but also to maximising learning time. In the meantime, it is worth you checking your child’s social media accounts and talking about their “influencers” (some of whom specifically promote violent/racist/misogynistic behaviour). Thanks for your support.

Ngā manaakitanga (good wishes/care)

Andy England

Key dates:

See https://darfield.school.nz/calendar/

Wednesday 29 March: Possible PPTA strike day

Thursday 6 April: last day of term 1

Monday 24 April: staff only day (school closed for instruction for staff learning)

Tuesday 25 April: ANZAC day

Wednesday 26 April: first day of term 2 for students