It was great seeing so many of you at the whanau conferencing yesterday and I hope that you and your child were able to have very constructive conversations that will provide the direction for positive academic results.
While you were meeting with teachers, our deputy principal of teaching and learning, Bridget Ryan, and I spent a couple of hours with 21 volunteer students from years 8-10 to get their feedback on our project-based learning programme which begins in Term 3. It was a very fruitful discussion and I was impressed by their thinking and understanding of education today and the learning that they recognise they need, to prepare for life after school. When comments from students of this age begin with “Studies about this say that …” I wonder who should really be running the school! We often underestimate the knowledgeable opinions of our young people when making decisions about their education. They are also very aware of how learning has shifted in the last couple of generations with the advent of Google, and knowledge and content at their fingertips compared with the educational experiences of older generations.
Recently, we were excited to hear that our application to the national Teacher Led Innovation Fund was successful. This fund is a Ministry of Education initiative designed to support innovative and quality practice that improves student achievement. My thanks go to Bridget Ryan and her team who put this application together. It is certainly affirming to know that we are moving in the right direction. Our plans for introducing Project Based Learning for all year 8 – 10 students are well underway. Allowing our students to have control over their learning, engage in a context of their choosing, and develop skills in academic risk-taking, resilience, tenacity, creativity, time-management, planning and collaboration, is very exciting for us as a school. Of course, service and impact on community will also be part of what we will be asking students to consider as we will be ensuring that our special character is not lost in new contexts. Our volunteer students from today have offered to spend time in school on Teacher Only Day learning more about project learning, giving us feedback, and working through a process of directing one’s own learning, with one of our educational partners from Otago Polytech. Later in the term, we will let you know how your child’s week may look a little different from term three.
Unfortunately, the same week as our calendared Teachers Only Day (31st May), students will miss another day of school because the PPTA and NZEI have called a strike on the Wednesday (29th May). The Board of Trustees has decided to shut the school that day because there will not be enough staff on site to ensure the safety and supervision of our students. A separate email will be sent home from the Board about the strike day.
Let us remember this weekend to be grateful for what we have been given and the rich environment in which we live.
Have a peace-filled weekend,