Principals Comments 31.3.23Read Now
Kia ora e te whanau
No doubt you will be aware of the media coverage around attendance in schools around New Zealand and the use of these statistics as a political football for the upcoming elections. St Peter’s College does not have many truancy issues and our attendance rates are overall quite high. Despite this, on a recent visit, the Education Review Office (ERO) asked us to dig a little deeper into our statistics and some surprising outcomes were uncovered:
ERO have just published an insightful report on attendance in schools and a few key points stood out for me:
ERO also gave some helpful recommendations for improving attendance:
I share this message with you today not to single anyone out but just to raise awareness and if the trends are correct nationwide, to address this before attendance at St Peter’s College begins to drop further. There has been an alarming fall in regular attendance for all school types across the country and there is no real understanding as to why this has happened. Covid has understandably had an impact on the attendance rate, however it has been falling since 2015. For ERO’s full report please click on this link:
As we approach Holy Week next week, it is important to reflect on the significance of this week in the Catholic Church and how it relates to our school community. Holy Week is the most sacred week of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church. It begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Throughout the week, we reflect on the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. This includes the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, and Good Friday, which marks Jesus' crucifixion and death.
The culmination of Holy Week is Easter Sunday, which celebrates Jesus' resurrection from the dead. It is the most important feast in the Catholic Church and the foundation of our faith. During this time, we celebrate new life and the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ. As a Catholic school community, it is essential that we understand the significance of Holy Week and participate in its observance. Holy Week provides a unique opportunity to reflect on our faith and deepen our relationship with God. It is also an opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate our shared beliefs and values.
We encourage all students, staff, and families to participate in Holy Week observances, such as attending Mass, participating in the Stations of the Cross, and taking time for personal reflection and prayer. We also encourage all students to engage in service to others, particularly during this time of year, as a way of embodying the spirit of Christ's teachings.
We wish you all a blessed Holy Week and Easter season.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Principals Comments 24.3.23Read Now
Kia ora e te whanau
It would be great to think that everyone here absolutely loves coming to school! It would be great to think that each one of our students looks forward to coming back to school after a holiday! It would be great to think that they will all have the opportunity to enjoy learning in a pleasant environment where everyone shows respect, and where everyone is sensible at all times. However, it is likely that these three things are not true for some of our students. Sometimes, students don’t enjoy school. If they were asked, quite a lot of them would possibly say that they would rather be on holiday, and sometimes, it can be difficult to learn when some students decide to behave in inappropriate ways.
There are many reasons why people behave in particular ways. We often learn our behaviour from those around us, whether they are family, friends or peers. In some cases, this can be a good thing, but at other times, it can lead us into doing things that are not acceptable, and that we would not normally have considered taking part in. In our society, we have a system of laws so that we can deal with people appropriately if they have behaved badly. When people are found guilty of wrongdoing, they are punished. This is the same within the school community. If a school is to function well, it needs a code of conduct that includes penalties for those who decide to ignore the rules. The penalties are intended to be positive and constructive so that everyone has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to change their behaviour for the better.
In the Bible, in Luke 13.6-9, Jesus told a parable that illustrates this idea well. In the parable, there was a man who had a tree that did not bear fruit for three years. He told his gardener to cut down the tree because he thought that it was a waste of space. However, the gardener asked if he could give the tree one more year, saying that he would look after it very carefully in that time to promote the growth of fruit. The parable indicates that people should be given a second chance. It suggests that people sometimes need a bit of extra help to grow and change, that they deserve the opportunity to change and to put their behaviour right. We ask our students to listen to the following simple advice on what to do if they want to change their behaviour or avoid inappropriate behaviour in the first place:
· Be honest and, if you are not happy with your behaviour, admit it to yourself.
· Get to know your weaknesses so that you can work on improving them.
· Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends, family members or teachers.
· Avoid mixing with people who have had a bad influence upon you in the past.
· Aim to learn from your mistakes so that you can take advantage of the second chance that is on offer to you.
Thank you for our school.
Thank you for those who care for us and advise us on our life’s journey.
Please help us to think about the effect that our actions have upon other people.
Help us to think of others before ourselves.
Charity Fulfils the Law,
Principals Comments 17.3.23Read Now
Kia ora e te whanau,
It was exciting this week to have so many students participate in the Southland Secondary Athletics competition on Saturday. It was a great day where all students competed in good heart and spirit. 2023 is off to an excellent start with many sports and extra-curricula activities being able to be offered again. Netball, Basketball and Rugby trials have started. Hockey is about to take off and we are looking forward to taking teams up to the Catholic school’s quad tournament on the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of April. With many more teams we are looking for coaches and managers for all codes, if you can volunteer some time please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This week we had cameras installed around the school to increase our security, particularly around the gymnasium and carpark areas. This is to help us minimise anti-social behaviour and vaping and smoking. The cameras are pointed at the toilet doorways to monitor who is going in and out. This is for health and safety and please be assured there are no cameras inside the toilets.
Yesterday, as you know our teachers went on strike for better conditions. As a Catholic secondary school, we have always believed in the importance of charity and fulfilling the law, and we remain committed to these principles during this disruptive time. We recognise the hard work and dedication our teachers have shown to our students over the years. We also understand the legitimate concerns about working conditions and that everyone is entitled to take action to improve them.
At the same time, we must also remember that our school relies on the support of our community to function properly. It is only through your generosity and goodwill that we are able to provide our students with the education and opportunities they need to succeed. As we navigate this challenging situation, we ask for your patience and understanding. We pray that we find a resolution that is fair and reasonable for everyone involved. We hope that through open and honest communication, we can come to an agreement that upholds our shared values of charity and fulfilling the law.
In the meantime, we will continue to provide our students with the best possible education, and we ask for your continued support and encouragement as we work to resolve this issue. Thank you for your understanding and your commitment to our school community.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Principals Comments 8.3.23Read Now
Kia ora e te whanau
Today, I want to emphasize the importance of teachers, students, and the community working well together in achieving our shared mission of providing a quality Catholic education to our students. As we all know, teachers are the backbone of our school. They dedicate themselves to educating our students, imparting not just knowledge but also important values such as compassion, respect, and integrity. We are blessed to have such talented and committed teachers in our school.
However, it is not just the responsibility of the teachers to ensure that our students receive a quality education. Students must also play an active role in their own learning. They must come to school ready to learn, be engaged in their classes, and take responsibility for their own academic success.
And it's not just about teachers and students. Our community also plays a crucial role in the success of our school. We need parents and guardians to be actively involved in their children's education and support them as they navigate their academic journey. We also need community leaders and organisations to support our school and help us provide the resources our students need to succeed.
When teachers, students, and the community work well together, we create a positive and supportive learning environment that helps students reach their full potential. By working together, we can help our students develop not just academic knowledge, but also the character and values that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Next week on Thursday the 16th of March, teachers and myself will be going on strike to require improved pay rates and conditions to keep skilled and experienced teachers in the classroom, make secondary teaching a first choice career and encourage thousands of ex-teachers to return. On the TV3 Morning show Melissa Chan-Green criticised teachers for this action saying we should strike on the weekend so as not to disrupt the learning of the children. Sadly the government has not negotiated with PPTA on improving teachers working conditions and salary since May last year so we know that would not work. The last thing we want to do is disrupt student learning but we are out of options. Melissa Chan-Green compared the recent student strikes on climate change to the teachers strike. I would disagree with this assumption. Strikes are admirable in the workforce because strikers sacrifice salary for a greater cause. All of us striking will go without pay this day. Students need to strike on a Saturday to show sacrifice.
We have four non-union teaching staff who will be onsite all day on Thursday the 16th of March to supervise any students who are too young or can’t be left at home that day. Please email our Deputy Principal, Bridget Ryan email@example.com to let us know if your child will be attending school this day.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our Catholic co-educational high school. I look forward to continuing to work together to provide the best possible education for our students.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Principals Comments 3.3.23Read Now
Kia ora e te whānau
We are now well and truly into the season of Lent when we remember and celebrate Jesus’ passion, and the mystery that is, his death and resurrection. It is a time for prayer and reflection of who we are as a Catholic kura. To “Be Mercy” in all we do is an action rather than something we give up for Lent. I challenge our kura to reflect on this as we go through Lent in the build up to Holy week.
This week we welcomed back John Parsons to the school and it was a privilege once again to hear stories of mistakes young people have made with their digital footprint and the message that we are people of forgiveness. We can learn from these mistakes and strive to do better and be more responsible with technology. I hope the students and parents who attended the sessions got a lot out of this. Supporting busy young people who balance schoolwork, after school activities, part time jobs and a growing interest in having ‘a social life’ has its challenges. However, I am sure you will agree it brings a huge amount of satisfaction.
Catholic schools have always been about academic excellence, but this is not at the exclusion of the education of the whole person. This year we have extended our whānau time to include increased assembly time, where we can come together as a whole school to communicate and listen to shared expectations around our school values as well as come together in prayer. Every fortnight we are also having year level assemblies led by the deans to come together and build a culture of communication and representation of academic and co-curricula activities. When we come together in our house whānau groups this is an opportunity to help integrate our newest and youngest students into St Peter’s College through Tuakana Teina as well as teaching students the social and emotional tools that help students make good choices, manage their emotions, create positive relationships, and collaborate. Something that has become even more important in the wake of the pandemic.
A reminder to those of you who were here for the beginning of our whānau time journey and a recap for those of you who are new to our community- whānau time was born from an external pastoral review of the school that told us among many things that students in this school did not feel they had a safe and caring connection with a single adult at St Peter’s College. Whānau time has allowed us to dedicate 2-3 committed staff members to each whānau group of approximately 27 students to help support, nurture and really get to know each individual student. Finding multiple opportunities to let children know that “We care, that they matter, and that we are going to show up for them no matter what” makes all the difference. When we have those kinds of conversations, students show up in the classroom and they have a better sense of how to process whatever challenges they might be facing.
The benefits of social-emotional learning are difficult to deny. A recent meta-analysis, which reviewed studies of 1 million students over the last 10 years, found that these approaches have consistent, positive effects on student outcomes, including increased social and emotional skills, attitudes, and academic achievement, and fewer problems with conduct and emotional distress.
Thank you for supporting our move to vertical house whānau time. Through this initiative every student, along with caregivers and their subject teachers’ and whānau teachers, will be engaged in developing relationships and setting our expectations for the year. Each one of our students possess God-given gifts and talents and it is our job, and our privilege, to help them become the very best version of themselves aiming high in their aspirations.
We certainly hope that here at St Peter’s, the education of the students is a partnership and that our desires as parents and teachers complement our Catholic tradition which aims to form young adults who will make a difference.
Charity Fulfils the Law