All posts by Ben Doughney

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.

Term Dates

2019 Term Dates

The first day of school for all students for the 2019 academic year is Thursday 7th February.

Mission Heights Junior College will be open in 2019 during the following days:

Term 1 Tuesday 5 February to Friday 12 April
Term 2 Monday 29 April to Friday 5 July
Term 3 Monday 22 July to Friday 27 September
Term 4 Monday 14 October to Thursday 12 December



At Mission Heights Junior College we use e-asTTle tests at the beginning, middle and end of the year to help us gain an insight into the numeracy and literacy abilities of our students. This data in turn helps us to personalise and cater for the diverse learning needs of our students, it is also used to help us measure student progress.

At the completion of each test each student has an ‘Individual Learning Pathway’ report that is generated for them. This report allows them and us as their teachers to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This is the report that your child will share with you in their Student Led Conference.


The report is divided up into four quadrants:

  • Achieved (Yellow) – questions that, given the student’s overall e-asTTle score (in the appropriate curriculum area), should have been answered correctly and were.
  • Strengths (Green)– questions that were expected to be answered incorrectly, given the student’s overall e-asTTle score, but were answered correctly. These questions are more difficult than his/her overall ability. However for reading, it is possible for a student to have correctly guessed the answer to questions that would normally be outside their ability range. While such responses will be excluded from the student’s level calculation, the questions will still display in the Strengths box.
  • Gaps (Red) – questions that, given the student’s overall e-asTTle score should have been answered correctly but were incorrect. These are questions that would be expected to be relatively easy for the student. This is an area where teachers will investigate to determine the reason. It may be due to carelessness, skipping questions, illness or not having being taught it yet. As these questions are at a level easier than the student’s overall ability, it is expected that the student should be able to learn this information quickly.
  • To Be Achieved (Blue) – questions that were expected to be answered incorrectly, given the student’s overall e-asTTle score, and were answered incorrectly. These questions signify areas that the student has yet to achieve and in which it is expected they will require more teaching and learning of strategies to achieve in this/these areas moving forward.

It is possible for the same objective to be listed in multiple quadrants, because the questions relating to a single objective may be of varying curriculum levels.

A question may appear more than once in the same quadrant. This is because a question may have more than one objective associated with it.

More information about the ILP reports can be found here.

We have recently developed and are trialling a new tool which will see students identify the area of most concern in the ‘To Be Achieved (Blue)’ box of their report and make a goal using strategies to target this area of weakness. We are hoping that by doing this students will have a better understanding of the reports, their own capabilities and take more ownership of their learning between tests by making and revisiting goals around their needs.

At the completion of the test an overall score is generated for each student, from these scores we are able to identify if students are ‘well below’, ‘below’, ‘at’ or ‘above’ where they should be for their cohort nationally. This information is outlaid in the ‘MHJC Traffic Lighting’ for reading and maths and is used by teachers to personalise the learning of students with level appropriate texts and tasks. This differentiation and personalisation of learning is important in order to help students make positive shifts towards where they need to be to meet cohort expectation or to extend them and provide them with the necessary challenge needed if they are working above level.