Thursday, 9 November 2017

1. Principal's News Week 4, Term 4 2017

Welcome Mass
On Sunday 19th November at 9.30 am mass in the Basilica, we are formally welcoming all the students who have started at St Joseph's since the last Welcome Mass earlier in the year.  This is an opportunity for our school and parish community to get together.  The new students will be presented with a picture Bible to mark their entry into St Joseph's.  We would love for as many people as possible to join us for this mass.  Remember our school is only here because of the parish.  We are the parish school.

Junior Hub One have been paleontologists this morning (people who dig out fossils) - exploring ice, and dinosaurs and writing scientific observations.

National Standards
There is a lot of talk around this at the moment.  Most educators were strongly against the National Standards when they first came in for many good reasons.   There were lots of myths that went with National Standards.  One was that we didn't let parents know how children were doing.  We have always reported against the New Zealand curriculum and the expectations around age and stage.  The difference is the National Standards made a very rigid and arbitrary cut off point which labelled some children as not achieving year after year when they may have been within range, or making huge progress but this wasn't recognised.  This year our reports will be against the National Standards.  After that we will go back to reporting against the curriculum and you will know exactly how your child is doing.

Another myth is that the National Standards means we are testing all the time.  If anything it has helped us test less because the main judgement is what the child actually does and says and not how they do in a test.  I think the profession as a whole has improved through this focus.  We only do one formal test and that's a cross-check of our judgement.  It is good teaching practice to use what we call "formative assessment" which means assessment along the way - that is we notice - in the moment - what the child knows, or does not know and what they can and cannot do, then we teach them what they need to know or do.  We also go away and reflect individually, or together on what a child is doing and saying and that helps us come to judgements and make a learning journey for the child.  This is good teaching practice and will not change.

New Zealand has an outstanding curriculum admired all over the world (NZ Curriculum).  This curriculum came off the back of leading edge international research and the revised edition was introduced in 2008.  Unfortunately it got subsumed by National Standards in 2010.  The fantastic thing is that now we can return to the focus and intent of that curriculum and teach in the holistic and broad way we all love and that we know the children need.  Literacy and numeracy are absolutely essential skills that we must give fully to every child and personally I will bend over backwards to make sure every child has the very best we can give them in this area.  But there is a lot more to life than this.

Home and School Update

Our Food Fair is gaining in popularity - we sold 40 more plates and 15 more cakes than last year.  There are some variables to consider around profit but as it stands the profit is around $5,500.

The next big event is the Waitaki Mud Run next year.

The Home and School are running the year 1-6 disco on Friday 1st December.  Parents should be warned that the main lights are off and there will be flashing lights and loud music.  We are asking that children are dropped off and left -  they will be adequately supervised by our Home and School parents.

Staff News
Congratulations to Megan Day who has secured a position in Dunedin so she can now return to home base.  Her energy, openness and enthusiasm will be very much missed.  Also congratulations to Anna Mulholland who has secured her next career step in a leadership position.  We will also miss Anna and wish her all the best with her next step.

I am absolutely certain that we will have an amazing team to start the year in 2018 and I am having some very promising conversations but I won't be able to tell you the team until early December.

God Bless and Aroha
Lorraine Frances-Rees

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