I am sure the MHJC community is well aware of the strike action planned for Wednesday 29 May. Some of the issues that have been publicised include salary increments that have not kept pace with inflation and working conditions which have caused many to seek other employment or which have caused significant health concerns.
I am pleased to be working with a Board of Trustees which takes its responsibility as a “good employer” seriously and has supported several initiatives to promote staff wellbeing. Some strategies include membership of the Employee Assistance Programme; showing a compassionate approach to leave requests; paying support staff a “living wage” which is above rates specified in the collective agreement; support of teachers going on study leave and supporting management with initiatives which assist teachers and support staff to maintain a work/life balance. Our mentoring system has also been very successful in responding to the needs of our staff before the situation becomes damaging and the schools within school/whānau system is a very effective means of providing emotional support to our staff as well as our students. I continue to work with our Senior Leadership Team at ways in which we can lighten the load on our staff and commit to this on a daily basis.
While planning this message I wondered what our community can do to support our teaching and support staff while the union leaders and Education Minister lock horns. I note in the many articles and news reports that many teachers and support staff describe their situations in different ways often because of the context in which they work. I am pleased that in general our students and caregivers provide wonderful support to our staff. While working conditions overall could improve it is so important that our staff are and feel valued. We can all show this by following our values of integrity/pono and compassion/awhinatanga. Let us show our appreciation and gratitude for what our teachers and support staff do on a daily basis whether it be phoning in an absence, replying to a reminder about homework completion or simply meeting and greeting a coach/manager at an academic competition, sporting or cultural event. Just a few kind words on these occasions may not fill the bank account but they will fill the well of goodwill and put a smile on the face and a spring in the step for a community that is doing a great job but needs a boost right now.
Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!
This week we look forward to a number of activities which will promote our school’s values of integrity and compassion. We believe that by cultivating a better understanding of our differences and celebrating our wonderful cultural diversity we can send a positive message to our community. The week will finish with Pink Shirt Day which has become a rallying cry for us to treat each other with respect and manage ourselves so that we remain calm and respond appropriately if offended. The most important change we wish to see after analysing a recent survey is for students to become more equipped to articulate their feelings and for bystanders who witness hurtful actions or words to make a stand and indicate their disapproval. This has been documented to be one of the most powerful ways to combat bullying.
The following web site has more information which may provide us with greater insight: https://www.bullyingfree.nz/bullying-free-new-zealand-week/
Our view is that while we respond to any reports of anti-social behaviour we also wish to promote a positive message of seeking ways to be kind and compassionate which help create a culture of acceptance and celebration of our differences. The Student Executive Council has created a slogan “#be kind, be you” which I think sums up our message superbly.
Growing Greatness – Kia Mana Ake!
I felt privileged to enjoy the beautiful Central Otago during the holidays as my wife and a few friends completed five days of the Alps to Ocean bike trail. I confess we decided to use e-bikes to make the journey less strenuous than it might have been and to maximise our collective enjoyment! We were reminded of the natural beauty of this country and the many opportunities we can and should take to experience the outdoors. In our increasingly technical and digital world more and more research is showing how important it is to take a break, detox and make time for face to face conversation, take part in healthy physical activity, indulge in a hobby or simply read a book. We promote all these activities at MHJC through our DEEP programme and extensive extra-curricular activities. I trust parents and students continue to enjoy and appreciate these opportunities as well as the trips and competitions that are so much part of our students’ learning.
We have already kicked off a busy term with a wonderful celebration of our cultural diversity culminating with our annual Cultural Dress Competition; started the next leg in our pursuit of a third Education Perfect World Title with the English challenge; encouraged students to show compassion/awhinatanga by signing up for the World Vision 40 Hour Famine and had a social for our Year 9 and 10 students – this shows what an active and busy community we are!
I look forward to seeing many parents at the many Academic, Sporting and Cultural events we host. It is a great way for me to connect with our community and I have always been so proud of the way our students and supporters have behaved at such events. Let us continue to build the excellent reputation we hold of being gracious winners and fierce competitors who always give 100% but respect officials and opposition even when we may feel a 50/50 call may have gone against us – this builds resilience and equips our students for the future.
Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!
It is with regret that I have decided to postpone the Saturday morning community event scheduled for 6 April. This decision was made after consultation with organisers and Board of Trustees. Several factors have caused this action, the most important being the timing of an event we wish to enjoy but which would have proceeded against a backdrop of national turmoil and grief following the tragic loss of life in Christchurch last Friday.
I realise that there has been a lot of work done by staff and students to prepare for the morning but this will not be lost as we will set a date later in the year when things are back to normal and we can focus on the celebrations free of other considerations.
My sincere apologies to anyone inconvenienced by this decision.
The events that occurred on this date will become etched into our collective psyche for all time. Following the deadly shootings of peaceful Muslims at prayer it is perhaps too soon to comment on an incident so horrendous and which has had such a damaging impact on our Muslim community. It is important however to pause and reflect on how our nation and the international community has spoken in one voice to condemn the actions of the gunman and how so many people here and across the world have shown their support for the Muslim community in speeches, marches, prayer vigils and a “Give a Little” page which at the time of writing amounts to over $4 million.
This sense of unity and outpouring of love and compassion reminds us of what makes us human and gives us hope for the future. To strive for a world where we accept, respect and celebrate who we are, free of fear or judgment. MHJC is also a community and it is one where these values are enshrined in our charter and we remain even more committed to them than ever.
Let us all send our thoughts and prayers to our Muslim families affected directly or indirectly by the shootings, the victims still being treated in hospital and all those first responders and members of hospital and emergency services who have worked so hard to restore safety and assurance for the Christchurch community.
We strive, at MHJC, to make and grow quality connections between all stakeholders so that students can enjoy and benefit from the endless opportunities we provide.
It was fantastic to see the positive dialogue taking place last week as we set aside a day for Student Led Conversations. I wish to express my thanks to every parent or caregiver who gave their time to strengthen their connection to the school and hear the goals and plans of their children in partnership with our Learning Advisors who are committed to supporting the students in their care to be the best they can be.
During the conference our plans for delivering the new “holistic” reports would have been discussed with you. As has been stated before this is an attempt, following consultation, to provide whānau with information about a student’s achievement and progress in all subjects (not only Maths and English), engagement which is measured by attendance, involvement in our Four Cornerstones and homework completion and importantly an innovative way of showing students’ commitment to our core values of integrity/pono, compassion/awhinatanga and lifelong learning/ako. We believe this will provide us with a much better “all-round” perspective of our students and reinforces our vision which states that every child has a grain of greatness and it is our mission to provide the opportunities for this greatness to grow.
Later this term we will host what has become an annual Girls’ Changemakers Breakfast and boys can enjoy a similarly inspiring event in term 2. We hope as many parents can attend these events with their children as possible and share in the learning they bring.
Our Year 7’s enjoyed their own social last week which provided great opportunities to bond with their classmates and senior student leaders. Camps in the next two weeks will do the same as every whānau provides team-building exercises in the beautiful New Zealand outdoors.
These are but a few of the highlights we regularly provide for students, parents and teachers to connect and enrich the school experience. Term 1 will culminate with another opportunity for the school to connect with alumni and former staff and parents with a Saturday Community Birthday Celebration on April 6. Food, exhibitions of learning and sporting and cultural events will provide our community with a chance to relive their past and see the progress of MHJC over the years. We look forward to seeing you there.
Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!
During his address at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi/Te tiriti o Waitangi Crown representative Lieutenant Governor William Hobson said the famous line “He iwi tahi tatou – we are one people”.
This is especially significant as we welcome our new students (over 250), staff and parents to the school. They have come from different schools close by or from foreign lands but all now share a special bond as members of our wonderful MHJC learning community.
This morning our Year 7 students and staff members were welcomed at a powhiri held in their honour. We look forward to sharing their learning journey and growing the greatness that lies within everyone and learning how we can honour the spirit of the treaty.
So let us enjoy the public holiday tomorrow, and reflect on the work so many people are doing and have done to bring people together to create this wonderful country. As we do so, let us consider what we can do to continue the nation building example of those who have gone before us. For pakeha this could mean learning more Te Reo Māori or becoming more familiar with the cultural traditions and practices or Ti kanga Māori and for our Māori community to support others on what can be a challenging journey. There was no better example of this than when our students taught their classmates and teachers the school haka last year!
At a school level consider how we can share our knowledge with our new recruits – support and guide them so everyone feels safe, valued and welcomed in this new environment.
Our Charter contains an important strategic goal of honouring the treaty and I urge our community to challenge ourselves in some way this year to support the inspirational words of William Hobson.
Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!
A special welcome to our new students and to those returning – thank you for trusting us with the education of your children and we look forward to enjoying a collaborative learning journey.
I thought I would highlight some key events and areas we will focus on this year:
In term 1 we will celebrate our 10th birthday by opening the school to our community, past and present, on Saturday morning 6 April. Please diarise this date as we organise fun events, food and entertainment which will celebrate our amazing journey.
In term 2 our new Board of Trustees will be elected. We hope as in the past to have a number of parents putting themselves forward for this important duty particularly in the year in which elements of the Tomorrow’s Schools model are being reviewed, including the role and power of boards coming under the microscope. More on this topic can be found on the following web site: https://conversation.education.govt.nz/conversations/tomorrows-schools-review/
In term 3 we will host for the first time a group of Chinese students from Xian Ling Middle School in Nanjing, following our visit there last year and we will visit them again later in the term.
Our first 10 Year Property Plan will start this year. The conditional assessment of our grounds and buildings is almost complete which estimates how much we will need to spend to ensure the site is safe and in working order and this will inform the amount we have left to enhance teaching and learning at MHJC.
In terms of teaching and learning we will make a school wide focus of our conservation and guardianship/kaitiakitanga responsibilities of Tāne forest which neighbours our property and we will develop our holistic reporting system which will reflect student achievement, progress, engagement and our values.
We will also make a special focus of creativity as one of the central themes of future skills and 21st century learning as explained in our new Charter.
Finally we will continue with the many other exciting opportunities and programmes including mindfulness to ensure all students’ wellbeing and learning is promoted.
Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!
As we enjoyed our annual Santa Show, with students starting Christmas celebrations early and with much energy, I started to reflect on a hectic term and hugely satisfying year. May I use this forum to wish the entire MHJC community a wonderful Christmas and summer break. I trust everyone has a restful time with plenty of relaxation and focus on the family, the spirit of giving and considering those less fortunate than ourselves. If you are travelling I hope you return safely and that our students are recharged and ready for an exciting year. Christmas is about hope and belief in our fellow man, with this in mind let us consider an exciting 2019.
Some exciting events to look forward to include:
- Our 10th Birthday Celebrations during term 1;
- Board of Trustees elections in term 2 and
- The return of the Education Review Office in Term 3.
We will also be able to begin our property plan after the ministry approved funding.
We are looking forward to continue exciting, innovative learning including a whole school focus on the guardianship/kaitiakitanga of Tāne forest and working in partnership with the University of Auckland to promote creativity within our curriculum and continuing our ready to learn activities which include mindfulness practices.
Another important work stream will be the development of our new holistic report which promises to be ground-breaking with students taking part-ownership of the report as well as providing engagement and academic progress and achievement data.
Many thanks to everyone for their support of our hard working teachers and enthusiastic students who have all enjoyed every opportunity to grow their greatness.
Kia mana ake!
There has been much discussion of teachers in the media recently with primary and secondary teachers’ unions having taken or considering strike action after negotiations over conditions of service broke down with the ministry.
I attended a lecture about teacher retention earlier this year and learnt that among the most significant reasons for teachers staying in the profession include their commitment to teaching and their commitment to the school. In this regard I wish to thank our community for supporting our teachers and expressing whenever possible your appreciation for their efforts. These simple actions, along with our wonderful students, go a long way to ensuring MHJC remains a place which teachers hate to leave.
We are very fortunate at MHJC that we are currently fully staffed and enjoy a high number of applicants for every vacancy we advertise. For example we received 20 applications for one position recently. We are able to attract primary and secondary trained teachers both of whom fall into the SCTA or Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement which is why we were not on strike last week.
Some more information may interest the community.
We have a nice balance of youth and experience and have an average age well below the national average with:
- 8 teachers in the first 5 years of their career who bring new ideas from training college to enrich our practice;
- 34 teachers have between 5 and 15 years experience who help to fill the middle and senior leadership positions and
- 7 “master craftsmen and women” have 15 years experience or more who help to guide the less experienced teachers within our mentoring programme.
All our teachers are highly qualified with:
- 25 teachers holding a degree and teacher’s diploma;
- 11 with a postgraduate qualification and
- 13 with a masters qualification.
Our turnover is relatively low with:
- only 6 staff leaving last year. This includes two teachers who are on maternity leave and will be returning.
- At time of writing we are fully staffed for next year with only four teachers leaving us.
We closely track the reasons for leaving and in the last three years these include promotion opportunities at other schools, relocations (nationally and internationally) and retirement. I am pleased to report that MHJC continues to be a sought after school for teachers who, according to the latest community feedback survey, enjoy high levels of satisfaction within an innovative and supportive learning environment.
Growing greatness/Kia mana ake!