Thursday 24 November 2016

1. Principal's News - Week 7, Term 4 2016

Information Gathering
I think I have now reached saturation point with my information gathering.  This means that new information is now confirming the picture I have formed and not changing it.  I'm pretty sure I've got a good picture now of all the things I need to know  in order to advise our board of trustees and lead the staff in the further development of systems and practices that will continue to raise educational outcomes for your children.

I really do have an "open door" policy so please keep talking to me and letting me know how things are going for you and your children or if there are any worries or concerns.   Positive feedback is good too and thank you to the parents who have given positive feedback - its an indication that we're going in a good direction.

Intermediate Information Evening and Family Learning Hui
These two evenings are a chance for the staff and myself to give you an outline of what things will be like next year.

Intermediate Evening - tonight (Thursday) at 6.30 pm in the hall
Family Learning Hui - tomorrow (Friday) starting at 5.30 pm with a picnic tea (bring your own) followed by the hui and games for the children run by the year 8's. If it is raining tomorrow night, the picnic tea will be held in the hall.

Device Use
We will be cutting back significantly on device use towards the end of term.  When we use devices we want to use them specifically for learning and I will talk more about that in the intermediate evening tonight.  Children don't need to be taught how to use technology - they naturally get that but they definitely need to be taught to use technology well as part of becoming information literate.

Me and My School
This is an in-depth survey for year 7 & 8s.  It is run by the New Zealand Council for Education Research and it is "normed" - that means that they have enough results on a nationwide basis to be able to give statistical information that allows you to compare your school with the national "normal." It measures a lot of aspects with the main areas being attitudes to reading, extra curricular activities, attitude to school, emotional engagement in learning and cognitive engagement.  We have worked very hard to increase cognitive engagement.  Cognitive engagement means that students are deeply challenged.  A lot of time spent doing pretty borders, and exquisite handwriting, or flashy Powerpoints is emotional engagement but not cognitive engagement - we want both, we want children to enjoy learning, but cognitive engagement is what really makes the difference.  We have always had a big focus on this and next year it will be the prime focus for our professional development.

In all areas we compare favourably with the "norm."  I am also gathering and analysing our national standards data for the Board and one of the areas I'm looking at is children who have been in our school all the way through.  I'm pleased to say their achievement levels on the whole are very high and a lot higher than national expectations.  I can give more information on that in the next newsletter.

For Parents to Note:
We can see from our results in this survey that there is a connection between engagement and success at school and what children do outside of school.  We have good data from our survey that tells us that for the children who are engaged in extra curricular activities - sports teams, or cultural activities - their attitude and engagement at school is much higher.  Students who indicated they played a lot of video/computer games or watched a lot of TV/You Tube were the same students who also indicated low engagement levels and negative attitudes at school.  Attitude and engagement directly feeds into achievement so if you want your child to succeed, keeping them involved in extra curricular activities and minimising screen time is the key.  But we already knew that!  So its about balance.  We definitely need to teach digital and information literacy skills to our older children but we have to be mindful both at school and at home that too much is definitely not a good thing.

I look forward to seeing you at our information evenings over the next couple of nights.

God bless
Lorraine Frances-Rees

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