Principals Comment

Posted Thursday April 11, 2024

Kia ora e te whānau

At the weekend's Catholic Secondary Quad Tournament, the four principals reflected with gratitude on how truly thankful we should be for our first term of 2024. This will be the first year since Covid that we have been able to fit in all our traditional events. We have had a wonderful term with many positive opportunities that have enabled our young people to have experiences that they either haven’t had for many years, or to reach new levels of success.

From school-wide events like Athletics and Field Days and Work Day, to year-level activities such as the retreats that Year 7 and Year 13 enjoyed. The term has been very full with assemblies, surf and Duke of Edinburgh camps, subject field trips, and extracurricular activities such as the senior school Ball, and a wide range of sporting events including cricket and touch rugby. All of this is, of course, in addition to the quality teaching and learning that has taken place in every classroom.

We concluded in our reflection that we can all have gratitude for who we are, have gratitude for what we have, and have gratitude for what we have been able to do at school. At this point, we would like to thank you, our parent community. For our young people to have opportunities and experiences, enjoy success, and become empowered young people who will challenge and shape the future, we must all work in partnership. We know that our strengths are in our communities which is centred on our faith, and we are truly grateful.

There is the perception that our young people’s lives are more difficult to navigate than what we experienced at a similar age, and this may very well be true. We can point the finger at societal pressures and the demands and expectations that our young people are exposed to from sources like social media, or the pressure that they put on themselves, engagement, and motivational concerns that some experience, and issues around mental health. Whatever challenges our young people are facing, they need us to guide and support them.

There is clear research to support the positive impact that the regular practising of gratitude can have on our mental health. Many of us have a negativity bias that results in negative events in our lives having a more significant impact on our psychological state than positive events. In short, we feel negative events more intensely. One way we can overcome this negativity bias is by focusing on the good things in our lives, the people we appreciate, the positive experiences we have enjoyed and what we are looking forward to tomorrow. Regularly practising gratitude can support us in being happier, healthier and having more energy – to be more resilient.

As part of our ongoing commitment to providing the best possible education for our students, I want to inform you of a recent adjustment to our timetable. In response to evolving educational requirements, I have decided to optimise our curriculum delivery to ensure all students receive adequate instruction in key subjects.

Late last year, we received guidance from the government regarding the importance of dedicating sufficient time to Mathematics, Reading, and Writing in Years 7 & 8. While our initial timetable was

designed with careful consideration, I recognise the need to adapt to these new mandates effectively.

To support our students' academic growth and success, I have made the decision to increase the number of Mathematics periods to four per week for students in Years 7 to 10. Additionally, we will be enhancing English instruction by adding an extra period per week for Year 10 students. To do this and to ensure we have specialist teachers in their areas of expertise we are reducing Science at Years 7 and 8 to two hours a week and reducing some of the option classes at Years 9 and 10 to two hours a week.

This adjustment reflects our ongoing commitment to academic excellence and ensuring our students are equipped with the necessary skills for their future pathways. I appreciate your understanding and support as we continue to refine and improve our educational offerings.

Over the holidays, I challenge our families to make the regular practice of gratitude a priority. This could take place over an evening meal, before bed or anytime when there is the opportunity to ask questions like ‘What was one thing you enjoyed today?’; ‘What’s something delicious you ate?’; ‘Who have you enjoyed spending time with?’; Who has made you smile?’; ‘What are you looking forward to tomorrow?’

Whilst working with our young people on being grateful, during each term break I also challenge our students to find a balance between rest and recuperation, preparation and self-improvement. Yes, our teenagers need to have a break, but they also need to ensure that each day they are doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity, at least 30 minutes of reading, and unplugging from devices at least 30 minutes before bed, to ensure they return to school reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to make the most of the continuing opportunities St Peter’s College has to offer.

Charity Fulfils the Law