From the Tumuaki/Principal’s Desk

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa. Welcome to the Westland High School newsletter for October 2023.

Kia ora e te whānau

What a fantastic finish to Term 3! Certainly it has been a period of time that was frenetic as we moved into the business end of the year with the culmination of significant mahi. Highlights were:

  • The results of the Common Assessment Activities for Literacy and Numeracy
  • The Footloose show
  • Derived grade exams
  • Winter Tournament
  • Enrolment week visiting our contributing schools
  • Course selection for 2024
  • Parent Teacher conferences
  • The Senior Ball
  • Te Hui Ahurei
  • South Island Secondary School's tournament week

I am really proud of our students who were the first to engage with the Common Assessment Activities for literacy and numeracy. It always takes courage to be the first to have a go at something new and particularly when the stakes are significant. Students achieved pass rates of: Mathematics 61.54%, Reading 63.16% and Writing 65.45%. These are superb results and affirm the teaching and learning that has supported students to be so successful. Results from around the country confirm that we can be very pleased with the success of our students and anticipate further success in the second chance later in the year.

It was a thrill to see ‘Footloose’ a couple of times and my congratulations to all those involved in the production. My observation is that the regions punch well above their weight when it comes to community theatre and the opportunities for students to be involved in dramatic productions. ‘Shrek’ is another example of this and getting involved is just what we do.

Travelling around our contributing schools was a real pleasure this term. Meeting with students, family and whānau is always a privilege. It also gives one perspective on where our students come from and just what a big step coming to High School is for them. At times we can forget this and my visit to all the contributing schools reminded me that we need to provide supportive and detailed transition processes to make starting at High School a positive and affirming experience.

Term 3 is an important time for decision making and subject selections are a vital part of preparation for next year. It is also tricky when choice meets institutional structure. I don’t know a school in the country that does not have students who face dilemmas when subjects they want to do clash in the timetable structure. We are lucky in that we have a variety of programmes and avenues through which we can get course selections as close to what everyone wants as possible - NetNZ is an example. The algorithm of our Student Management System does its best and we will always work hard to find courses that students will enjoy success in.

Two student highlights for me in particular last term were the Senior Ball and Te Hui Ahurei. To see students becoming adults and representing themselves, their community and their school so successfully is what we are all about in education. What a privilege to share the journey.

What’s on top

Two things are on top at present. The election result on the weekend holds special significance for education in Aotearoa/New Zealand and we await the inevitable developments that will emerge from a different perspective. What will remain the same is the need for community involvement in our strategic planning for the next two years. As I have mentioned previously, the Board and I will be reaching out to ask you to contribute your perspective to our strategic vision for Westland High School very shortly. We already have several sources of feedback from internal reviews of our Whānau system, from the Kāhui Ako strategic planning process, the NZCER student well being survey and the draft ERO review which will be out in final form shortly. Your anticipated contribution is valuable and appreciated.

Secondly, my mum used to say ‘balance in all things’. It is good advice for sustaining one’s effort. I am conscious that working smart is vital in a world of competing demands and opportunities for our students. Over the holidays I was wondering if we are really being as smart as we can about placing our students at the centre. With this in mind, I wonder if parents would appreciate meeting with teachers a little earlier in the year so that issues can be resolved early - before the die is cast. With this in mind, I will be reviewing our reporting timelines and asking for your feedback about how we are meeting the legislative requirement of reporting at least twice a year. With the changes to Level 1, I think we also need to change how we communicate with you to ensure you are kept up to date with your students' progress. 

Ngā mihi nui
Nic Richards