Category Archives: Principal’s Blog


During term 3 students will be learning about the risks and benefits associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV radiation). In New Zealand the peak summer ultraviolet radiation (UV radiation) levels are 40% higher compared with corresponding latitudes in the northern hemisphere (eg. Southern Europe, mid USA). Excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause sunburn, skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancers are the most common cancers in New Zealand, and there is evidence they are increasing in incidence. With these sobering facts we feel it is important that our students are both protected and well informed about this danger. The threat is made more difficult because UV radiation is invisible and the impact on a person’s health relatively slow to manifest.


We are working within guidelines recommended by the SunSmart Schools Accreditation Programme which is run by the Cancer Society of New Zealand and our intention is to become an accredited school which has developed and implemented a sun protection policy for Terms 1 and 4. The policy must meet minimum criteria that ensure students and teachers are protected in a sun-safe environment.


I wish to signal that we have started working with staff and students, and Mission Heights Primary School. The Board of Trustees supports this important initiative as one of its responsibilities to maintain and promote a culture of health and safety. Some progress has been made already:


  • Students have given feedback about the hats or caps they would like to wear which will be available at John Russell the official uniform stockist. It must be noted that while caps are not ideal they are a step in the right direction and students will  be required to wear either caps or hats in term 1 or 4 during any outdoor activity starting in term 4 this year;
  • Sunblock stations have been placed in whanau for students to use if they do not bring their own to school;
  • The provision of shade is being included in the school’s long term property plan.


I trust that the conversation about sun safety is reinforced at home and thank our community in advance for their support. The following web site can give you more information:


Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!


The right way to compete and looking ahead to term 3

With the start of another exciting term I wish to reflect on one of many outstanding achievements last term. At our Champions’ Assembly we acknowledged the remarkable achievement of our athletes who attended a Sports Camp in Matamata. For the first time in the history of the camp one school received unanimous votes for the Sportsmanship Trophy. That school was MHJC and we bask in the reflected honour the trophy brings to us. Credit to the students, their parents, coaches and managers who have shown the right reasons for playing sport – to develop resilience, win with grace, lose with dignity, compete with all we have got to give and enjoy the game.


I am sure the athletes competing at AIMS Games later this term will bring similar honour to the school and we look forward to their achievements as have the many winter sports teams who have represented the school so well.


We are also very excited to present the musical “Back to the 80’s” in week 3 this term. Cast, crew and staff have been working hard since the start of the year to produce a polished and professional performance which will showcase the acting, singing and dancing talents of our students.


Inter Whanau Cross Country, Mathex and the first MHJC School Haka Performance (by each whanau) plus many other activities along with engaging learning contexts will all make for a busy term.


Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

Travelwise – safety around schools

There has been some publicity recently about safety concerns relating to parents dropping and picking up their children at local schools. While we appreciate the high number of our parents who ensure their and other children are safe during these busy times it is worth reminding everyone of some basic advice and road traffic laws. While we seek to educate and inform parents and students, at times the police may have to enforce road rules and we will cooperate with them should the need arise.

It is important for me to remind parents that students are expected to be at school at 8.15 and interestingly this is not a busy time for students to be dropped if they have to be.


  1. Encourage your child to walk, cycle or scooter to school – this is a healthy option and would reduce the traffic congestion currently experienced around the school (remember helmets!);
  2. If the walk to and from home is too far, try dropping or picking up your child a few minutes away from the school – this will have a similar positive benefit. There are several viable options for you to drop off: along Norwood Drive on the approach to Jeffs Road, in access roads to Valderama Drive or along Valderama Drive near the Staff Entrance (not at the crossing!);
  3. Try a lift club with a friend – that would halve the number of vehicles at peak times;
  4. Respect and exercise extreme caution near the level crossing – our students and duty staff as well as the students and parents crossing are at risk here and need your complete focus and attention;
  5. Do not worry about your child being late – it is better s/he arrives safely than being involved in or causing an accident.


During one week earlier this term teachers provided me with photographic evidence of some parents transgressing road traffic laws and putting their and other children in danger. Examples are including in this list:

  1. Stop or park illegally – stopping in the bus bay and over the no-stopping yellow lines is illegal;
  2. Let your child out of the car in the middle of the road (on any side of the car);
  3. Double park;
  4. Drive over the speed limit – particularly between 8.15 – 8.40 a.m. and 3 – 3.30 p.m.

I would also advise that you work with your child regarding punctuality which is an important life-skill and indicates a high degree of self-management necessary for success. In most cases the excuse we are given for students being late to school is that they overslept or the traffic was heavy that morning. Tough love and an alarm clock in the first instance as well as sorting out what is needed the night before and leaving a few minutes early to arrive at 8.15 is my quick and easy advice.

Our Travelwise team will continue its positive work with students regarding exercising safe and healthy choices about travelling to and from school. It will also be working with the local police when necessary to ensure that everyone contributes to a safe environment for our students.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

Collaboration in Flat Bush

Tuesday 5 June, 2018 was an important day in the history of the seven schools that serve the Flat Bush Community. The Principals agreed to the day being an opportunity for the teaching and support staff to come together and share their journeys, innovative practice and inquiry. We started the day with an inspiring speaker – Kaila Colbin who spoke about the new educational landscape we are entering which fitted well with the rest of the day as we presented or attended presentations from every school which reflected the future-focused ethos we all share.

This was an important opportunity for us to learn more about how we all  deliver the curriculum in exciting ways which engage the students in our care. Importantly an insight into our contributing schools’ programmes will help us to transition students into MHJC as well as support students as they transition to Ormiston Senior College.

We return to our schools with new learning, new connections and new commitment to our vision: “Growing greatness through innovative, constantly evolving personalised learning”.

Wellbeing@MHJC – PBS

Forgive the acronym, PBS stands for “Pause, Breathe, Smile” and as I have indicated in a previous blog, I accompanied four of our teachers to a training day in term 1. Following the training it is our intention to introduce important lessons and practices from the course to our daily practice. It is hoped that our students will feel greater sense of wellbeing as a result which in turn will strengthen relationships and promote a safe, kind and courteous learning environment.

We have already successfully introduced mindfulness classes during DEEP which students have enjoyed and indicated that they had felt calmer and more focused which has improved their learning. Teachers have also offered calming techniques during lunch time last year during exams when students were feeling anxious, again with very positive results.

We feel that students (and staff) increasingly need to be taught tools which will enable them to cope within a complex, digital and “noisy” world. The increasing number of reported cases of anxiety and depression have been widely reported and are linked to our wired existence where we find it difficult to switch off and live in the moment. PBS or mindfulness techniques have been proven to have a positive impact on our ability to cope and indeed flourish. Relationships improve, thinking becomes clearer, concentration sharper and generally feelings of being in control of our lives strengthened. By focusing on the present moment mindfulness is able to enhance awareness and enrich the human experience

Mindfulness is not linked to any religion, it is not meditation and so students and parents should not feel threatened by the practices. Indeed I was first informed of the idea at a conference which showed the science behind the practice and I enjoyed a very interesting discussion with the head of Catholic schools in Tasmania who had been running a similar course for several years.  I am aware that Baverstock Oaks School has already started to implement PBS practices into its daily classroom practice and also report very positive results.

However should anyone have any concerns I welcome open and constructive communication about this practice and should you wish to research the PBS programme please visit:

Examples of our plan include:

  • offering students a chance to access the full course on a voluntary basis during DEEP;
  • training our teachers to lead a “ready to learn” type of activity before and after class;
  • providing students with mindfulness activities during Learning Adviser Time;
  • holding special exam time sessions;
  • continuing to offer “active” mindfulness opportunities by exploring nature on trips outside the classroom

We firmly believe that PBS will help to equip our students to meet their personal challenges and opportunities of the future, and thank you in advance for your support as we roll out the plan.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake

An inclusive, caring community

In my last blog I mentioned that our end of term assembly included promotions of Safe Schools Week and the World Vision 40 Hour Famine. To place these initiatives in context I wish to explain why they are important events in our calendar.


Safe Schools Week coincides with the widely publicised Anti-Bullying Week. Schools and workplaces are encouraged to make this a focus in week 3 of term 2 and which culminates in Pink Shirt Day. We have chosen to use the phrase of Safe Schools Week as this encourages us to focus on what positive actions we can make to promote a kind and caring community where people feel included, safe and valued. I am pleased that staff and students have thought up various activities within their Whanau which will remind us of how we can all make a difference.


The idea of making a difference will be reinforced by encouraging students to get involved with raising money for the World Vision 40 Hour Famine. This year funds raised will go to the refugee crisis in South Sudan and the awareness of this humanitarian crisis helps our students to become global citizens and see how they can make a significant change to other people’s lives. Again I am so proud of the many students who have signed up to sacrifice something for a short while to help others.


Both initiatives will help develop the sense of community we enjoy at MHJC and grow the notion of think global and act local.


Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!


The school assembly at the end of term 1 acknowledged our champions and made a special focus of the important day of remembrance on April 25.

I asked our teachers to encourage students to enter various writing competitions related to ANZAC Day and am pleased that two students, Nikhilesh Prasad and Fauzaan Muhammed were selected to speak at ANZAC services at the Auckland Museum. Yet again our students have shown that when given the opportunity to grow their greatness they rise to the occasion.


The assembly focused on the meaning of ANZAC Day – the need to remember those who gave their lives for peace and then what we as a school can do to give meaning to such sacrifice. We can all make a difference was the theme and promotions of the World Vision 40 hour Famine Charity and Safe Schools Week illustrated how our students can take action to strengthen our commitment to develop a caring and kind community where people feel safe and valued.


The school orchestra played the appropriately chosen theme from the movie “Chariots of Fire” and we also chose to end the assembly with a minute silence, poem for peace and National Anthem. One of our strategic goals is to develop a sense of nationhood within our student body and I trust the assembly helps us to achieve this goal.


I look forward to the ANZAC Parade at Stockade Hill this morning accompanied by the Executive Council who will represent the school and lay a wreath at the cenotaph.


Growing greatness – kia mana ake!

Charter review – have your say

Our Charter is a document which gives the school direction and purpose.

We review our performance against our aspirational strategic goals every two years and review the Charter itself every 4-5 through surveys to our community.

The survey is intended to provide parents with the opportunity to contribute to the process of building a culture and learning environment which will equip our students for the future.

From here the students and staff will also be given an opportunity to voice their opinion and then senior leaders will work with the Board of Trustees on the new document.

The survey will be sent to all parents later this term but you may wish to do some background reading/research into the future of education and the world our students will be entering.

These documents focus on the values, qualities and dispositions our students should develop and the conditions or environment we should promote to achieve this ideal.

The New Zealand Curriculum (pages 4-13):

MHJC Charter:

Charter MHJC 2014 – 2018

An alternative view of the future of education:

How students learn:

The nature of learning:

We have created an email address to allow the community to provide their feedback on the school charter. To email us and provide your feedback, send an email to

Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!

Student Led Conferences – lessons from the rowing machine

I have mentioned in previous blogs some of my reflections when “working out” at the gym. I set myself a target some years ago to do 2km on the rowing machine most weeks and what followed has been a love/hate relationship with a machine that has tested me in many ways.

This week the thought struck me how lessons from the machine can support what we can achieve through Student Led Conferences.

  1. Goal setting

Before we start we need to set ourselves a goal – SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For me that would mean finishing the 2km inside 8 minutes 20 which I have found quite challenging recently!

2. Tracking

While rowing it is important we keep an eye on the data on the control panel – this helps us to maintain the pace we need to reach our target – similar to the baseline and progress data we can share in SLCs.

3. Motivation

At times it is great if we can have someone encourage and guide us on how we can improve our performance – sometimes advice from a Personal Trainer or praise from family and friends can make a huge difference.

8 minutes does not seem to be a long time but I am sure we can all see how lessons from my weekly time trial mirror the importance the Student Led Conferences can be.

Growing greatness – Kia mana ake!