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March 7, 2016

posted 6 Mar 2016, 22:14 by Julie Shawcross   [ updated 6 Mar 2016, 22:15 ]

Kia ora koutou,

We are nearly there!

At last, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.  I visited the school on Saturday and most of the rubble from the damaged building has been removed.  There is only a few truck loads left to remove and a small part to demolish that was not in the original contract to be demolished.  We should have all of our electricity sorted by Tuesday or Wednesday.

There are still other things to be done including a final clean for every room in A, B and C wings and testing for mould and spores.  The fire alarm system also needs to be made functional and this will probably be the last requirement for the school to obtain a certificate of public use.

Unless something unexpected crops up, we are seriously looking at being back in school within 10-12 days, which means we do not have much longer on the alternate timetable and off-site education.

We think that it would be good to have a teacher only day before letting the students back into school to give everyone time to reorganise.  I would welcome your comments on this.  I would also welcome suggestions for an event or range of activities to mark our return as a school to our home.  If you have any ideas, please share them with others and email them to me at the school or talk to any member of staff about your ideas.

However, we have to remember it is not all over the minute we walk back into school and we still have at least one more week off-site.  The return will also be a transition and students and staff will need time to adjust before returning to high levels of performance. We all need to think about strategies and support that need to be put into place.

I am also aware of the stresses that people are under at the moment, in particular in relation to progress for the seniors.  Some staff are concerned about making enough progress, as are many students and parents.  I have met with two groups of students with almost opposite concerns.  The first group want more contact time with teachers and the second group felt that they were getting too much homework.  The major stresses appear to relate to the  ‘core subjects’ of maths and science (English has not been raised as an issue).  Some students are definitely feeling overloaded with homework or concerned about covering the required work.  In some cases they were feeling that teachers were under pressure to cover the work too quickly and therefore the students were not getting enough time to understand what was being taught.

Some ‘non-core subject’ teachers are being told by students I don’t have time to do your homework because of the amount from their ‘core subjects’. Students should not rush into a decision like this and my advice is to talk it through with a number of teachers.

I know it is easier for me to say this, because I am not taking any NCEA courses, but we need to make sure that we do everything to help our students keep an even keel.  Please keep an eye on the young adults in your families and talk to them about how they are finding things.  It will be natural for students to feel anxious at a time of change such as this and they will need reassurance.  If you or your son/daughter have any concerns please make sure that you contact the school and talk to a teacher.  We understand what they are going through and will be able to help.

I have asked all of our to teachers spend some time talking to their students and do what they can to resolve their concerns? This could mean giving less homework, or helping students to prioritise which is essential and which could be optional.  If the students feel like it’s all going too fast, then our teachers will consider slowing down or organising support.  It’s important too that our parents and caregivers reassure students who feel that they are not covering enough of the course content.  Try not to worry about it yourselves.  If you are concerned talk to someone at the school.

Remember, NZQA will give our students special consideration. At times like these we need to look after ourselves and manage the pressures so that they do not turn into stress.  Stress usually leads to reduced performance and therefore we do not want stressed staff or students.

We are all doing the best that we can in the circumstances and we couldn’t ask for more. Look after yourselves and help us to look after the students.  

Nga mihi nui,

Trevor Jones, Principal