All posts by Ben Doughney

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) in ECE and Schools

Auckland Regional Public Health Services advises that pertussis (whooping cough) is in the community and the number of cases in schools has increased over the last two months. Pertussis is a highly infectious disease and can cause serious illness for some people. In the last 12 months, 1 in 6 cases has needed hospital treatment.

Vaccination is free and offers the best protection against this disease – research shows vaccination is safe and effective. Four and 11 year olds are both eligible for a free booster dose – see your GP promptly to book this in. Children who have missed any doses are also able to get free immunisations, please check with your doctor if you are unsure of your child’s vaccination history.

If your child has symptoms of pertussis please keep them at home away from school. Pertussis starts like a cold with a runny nose, cough, and fever and is spread by coughing. After 7-10 days the cough becomes more severe and prolonged coughing spasms occur that may end with a whoop, dry retching or vomiting.

Pertussis in schools can be disruptive as students have to catch up on weeks of school work after falling ill and teachers need to work harder to support them. Pertussis disrupts families who need to make arrangements for childcare and doctors’ visits when their children are diagnosed.

If you or your children are experiencing symptoms or you want more information visit your doctor or call Healthline for advice on 0800-611 116.

If any of your school staff are pregnant or have a baby at home please ensure they receive the following messages from Auckland Regional Public Health.

  • Protect yourself and your baby and see your GP for a free vaccination in your third trimester (28–38 weeks). Protect new babies by immunising on time at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months.
  • Check that your baby’s brothers and sisters have been vaccinated for pertussis at 4 years and 11 years. A GP can provide catch-up doses if required.
  • Have adults in your family been immunised in the last five years? 80 percent of infants catch pertussis from a parent or other family member.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a serious disease in children under 12 months old. For every 100 infants under 12 months old who are infected, around 70 will be hospitalised, seven will require intensive care and there is a small, but very real risk of permanent medical complications or death.

Making an Impact

As our political leaders decide on the composition of our next government I was listening to commentators on radio who were providing deeper analysis of the election. A psychologist was being interviewed about how people can be supported if their party did not win. The response resonated with me. He said that no matter the government, everyone can still make a positive impact by working within their community about something they feel passionate about.

These words echoed those of the presenter at the recent World Vision Awards Ceremony where MHJC was recognised for the amount we raised during the 40 Hour Famine. He said that every dollar raised makes a difference in someone’s life. He reminded us that the importance of the funds raised by World Vision is that so much is raised by young people. Many are too young to vote. Yet they are making a difference.

Well done to all our students who raised funds for World Vision and to those who are working on outreach projects in DEEP and in other curriculum areas who are making a difference – making an impact.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

MHJC School App

Mission Heights Junior College have released a school app available for parents and caregivers to download. This app is available at no charge for Android and iOS devices. The MHJCApp allows the school community to receive information on school events, news and personalised notices from the school.

Download Links

The Android MHJCApp is available on Google Play;

Get it on Google Play

The iOS MHJCApp is available on the Apple App Store;

Download on the App Store

Adding a Student ID

To receive personalised notices for your child you will need their student ID card. You can add their student ID by going into the settings menu within the app and tap on “Add Student ID”. This will use the camera on your phone or tablet to take a picture of their ID card, which allows you to receive automatic notices from the school about sports practices, field trips, etc.

The Junior College Advantage

Students at Mission Heights Junior College enjoy many opportunities and are able to learn in an environment which has been specially designed for students of this cohort or age range.

The four year transition from primary to senior secondary school has distinct advantages:

Instead of a two year, which some refer to as the “revolving door” experience of an intermediate school where it is difficult to establish strong relationships in such a short time, teachers are able to get to know and support our students over four years.

Positive and caring relationships are the key to positive well-being and academic achievement.

The whanau structure of the school or schools within schools model further increases the quality of the relationship as students usually remain in the same whanau the whole time and with the same Learning Advisor and Senior Leaders. Having only 200 students in each whanau led by two experienced senior leaders ensures personalised and individual attention.

The middle college years are important for maturation and the building of a strong personal identity. Being grouped together at a time when they are neither primary nor senior secondary is a distinct advantage at this stage of their personal development. Being shielded for two years from some of the negative influences of senior students to which Year 9 and 10 students at senior colleges are exposed is an obvious benefit to our students at this impressionable age.

Positive friendships are also important factors for wellbeing and achievement. So it would be an advantage for students to transition to a senior college together from a junior college rather than disconnect before the end of Year 10.

Our students are able to grow without the constraints of having older students above them. We see incredible confidence and maturity in our senior students as they are the leaders of the school and occupy leadership positions that would normally be taken by Year 11, 12 or 13 students in a senior college. The image of trees fighting for sunlight in a forest comes to mind – our students can grow taller and stronger without a canopy above them.

Our curriculum has been carefully designed to ensure students receive specialist teaching from Year 7 to 10. Our students, having received excellent general foundations at primary school are ready for the next phase of specialised teaching. They are taught by a range of expert teachers rather than one home room teacher as in an intermediate school who may or may not have the same skills across all learning areas. The integrated curriculum learnt within a context is also enjoyed by students who can see the relevance of their learning in the real world.

Crucially students are able to receive the undivided attention of our teachers who are not distracted by the work-load of NCEA or CIE assessment which starts in Year 11 and continues to Year 13. Many of our teachers comment on how refreshing it is to return to the true meaning of discovery learning rather than “learning for assessment” required by senior courses and our students benefit as a result.

We believe that our students are well prepared for senior college and while gathering credits for NCEA is not our core business we do give our Year 10 students an opportunity to attempt achievement standards in most of their subjects. This gives them a taste of the NCEA process and an opportunity to carry some credits into Year 11.

Device Security from Ransomware and Viruses

Mission Heights Junior College would like to raise awareness to students and parents regarding the ransomware (virus) called “Wanna Cry” or “Wanna Crypt”. You would have seen it on the news lately since last Friday. There are some simple steps you can take to keep your device safe on the internet;
  • Don’t open suspicious files that are emailed to you, even if you know the sender.
  • Don’t download files from places such as Pirate Bay, Putlocker, Mega, Mediafire or any other file sharing websites.
  • Always keep your machines (Windows or Mac) constantly up to date. For Windows users, update to Windows 10.  This includes your home computers.
  • Backup your files regularly. You can use Google Drive for this. If you back up to an external drive, make sure you store it away from your computer in a safe place.

School Closing at 1:00pm Due to Severe Weather

Owing to the severe weather forecasted, the Mission Heights Junior College will be closing at 1:00pm. If you feel it is safer for your child/children to stay at school until 3:00pm there will be teachers on-site to supervise them. Please remember that the library is closed after school. All students must leave the site at 3pm.

Please have patience and be careful when picking up students.

Auckland Schools Mumps Outbreak

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is managing a mumps outbreak in Auckland. More than 35 cases have been confirmed so far and more than half of these are occurring in children and teens aged 10-19 years.

“I urge parents to check with their doctors to ensure their families’ measles mumps and rubella vaccinations are up to date. I recommend this is done before the school holidays. Vaccination is free and it will protect your child and the community,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Hale.

Mumps can spread quickly among those who are not immune, particularly in schools. A single child with mumps at secondary school could cause an outbreak, because immunity in that age group is well below the national average.

“If parents do not organise vaccination quickly, their children’s learning could be disrupted. We are in the midst of an outbreak and already large numbers of students are scrambling to catch up on school work after falling ill with mumps for several weeks,” says Dr Hale.

Most people recover from mumps, but it can have serious complications. Although rare, infertility can occur. The disease can also cause inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain (meningitis), inflamed testicles or ovaries and deafness.

“The best way to avoid getting an infectious disease like mumps is to ensure you are fully immunised with the MMR vaccine,” says Dr Hale.

Learn more about mumps on the ARPHS website and about mumps vaccination [PDF]

Mr. Neil Penfold moving to Selwyn College

We would like to inform the community that Neil Penfold has been appointed to the Senior Management team of Selwyn College. Mr Penfold has been with the college since July 2013 and he has served the college admirably as Mountains Whanau DP since that time. Mr Penfold’s replacement will start at the beginning of term 3.