Celebrating a term of arts

Our two-day long celebration of creativity and achievement is well underway. The school hall is full of the arts. The visual arts display is stunning and it makes the perfect setting for the 48 hour continuous school assembly that is taking place.

When the children arrived at school on day one of this term we made sure that they all understood that Term 3 was all about creativity. Since then our teachers have done a stunning job of drawing out and nurturing the artistic abilities in all of our students.

The orchestra, singing, dancing, poetry, speeches, puppet shows, instrumental acts, cultural performances, kapa haka, and joke telling are a perfect end to the term and the best possible form of assessment and celebration of this significant part of our Waimairi School curriculum.

Thanks to all of the staff and parents for your creative support this term and to Chris Jenkins for her leadership in this area.

Gallery of pictures here.

What a lot of rubbish

Today the whole school hit the streets for our Rubbish-a-thon. The PTA’s major fundraiser for Term 3 was more than a fundraiser.

It was a brilliant learning opportunity for all of our children. Being part of a community means taking responsibility for that community. The New Zealand Curriculum ranks 'participating and contributing' very highly (is is one of the key competencies which we are required to develop in our children) Follow this Ministry of Education link to see how our rubbish learning experience is all about our new curriculum

The whole school spread out to cover our ‘home zone’ and give it a big spring clean. We returned with over ten bins of rubbish, and got lots of thanks from our neighbours along the way.

View a gallery of pictures here

The art of public speaking

You thought I was joking when I said the winners would receive a trip to Sydney didn't you? These are the place-getters and highly commended speakers (missing two)

While we love innovating and developing new learning experiences for our students it is still very important to keep and honour many 'Waimairi traditions'. The annual senior speech competition is a great Waimairi tradition. Today we heard the finalists from our Year 5 and 6 classes. The children delivered polished, humourous, entertaining and informative speeches.

Well done to all of the orators who gave their very best this morning. We now look forward to following the progress of our winners at the regional competitions over the next few weeks.

School on Sunday

These are some of the keen Waimairi students who are converting a storeroom into a radio station. We had our first work afternoon on Sunday.

We are looking forward to the launch of our community FM radio station in a few week's time, but before we can get on air we need a studio.

Five boys from Room 16 have started clearing out the room. In coming weeks we need to prepare the walls, fill holes, pick the colours and do a big repaint.

Watch this space to see our progress.

Kapa Haka Group Noho

This weekend our kapa haka group held a noho at school. They started at 1:00pm on Saturday and finished at 12:00pm on Sunday. It was a great weekend of learning, performing and fun.

Many thanks to Whaea Teoti and her whanau, Delwyn and her whanau and all of the teachers and parents who contributed to the weekend.

The children in the kapa haka team perform with great pride and skill, this weekend has lifted their skills to an even higher level. Great stuff!

Picutres of the weekend here

A nice story from the school-yard

Dear Mike,

I thought you might like to hear a little story about the friendship seat.

My daughter made a new friend on Monday which came as a surprise to me and the other wee girls mother as they are different ages - xx nearly 6 yrs and xx 7 years old - and don't have a classroom or river in common.

When xx asked her mother and I if xx could go to her house that day to play we both said that was O.K but we were both wondering how this friendship had started - there was no common thread.

When I asked xx later that day about it she told me -

"Well, the friends that I was playing with went away and I waited and waited for them to come back but they didn't. So I went and sat on the friendship seat (she said this so matter of factly as if it was the obvious thing to do) and then xx came over and sat with me. I told xx what had happened with my friends and she said that she hated it when that happened to her. So then we decided to be friends"

I thought that this was something that I should pass on as I thought that it was a lovely demonstration of the school culture.

Kind regards

Sports news – not the kids this time

Room 11 teacher Marty Lukes has made the New Zealand team for the Commonwealth 100km race, he will, according to media reports, actually be one of the favourites for the title. He has run a sub-2hrs 30mins marathon and was fourth in the world 100km championships in 2006 in the excellent time of 6hrs 45mins. Marty is heading to England for the race later this term, we will keep you posted.

Link to media story

Waimairi Design Group

Our wonderful new Te Puna building is a successful learning space due in part to a design group made up of interested teachers and community members providing ideas and a clear direction to the architect.

We are now planning for new classroom spaces at Waimairi School and are forming a design group again. Any teachers, parents or community members with an interest in contributing design feature ideas for new Waimairi classrooms are invited to email Mark Robberds with the subject line design group.

Teachers Learning Lots

The staff at our school have a healthy appetite for learning. Many of our staff pick up the books after a day's work at school because they are studying part-time to add to their qualifications. From post-graduate diplomas to masters degrees, there are always staff members at Waimairi undertaking study.

As well as the formal study which several of our staff are working on, the whole team are busy bringing the Revised New Zealand Curriculum to life. This involves revisiting our fundamental thinking about, and attitude to, learning.

The Minister of Education provided schools with 'teacher only days' to close for instruction to allow teachers to work on the Revised Curriculum. Waimairi School has made some use of these days but, as a clear illustration of our staff commitment to the interests of children and families, the overwhelming majority of staff have voted to complete the remaining work required during 'call-back' days in school holidays.

Six more days of curriculum work are planned between now and February 2011, all to be done during school holiday breaks.

However some teacher professional learning has to take place during school hours. This term 1/2 of our staff have been undertaking an intensive development programme that puts them into their colleague's classrooms taking a close look at their own classroom practice by seeing how others work. The break in contact time between class teachers and their children for periods of time this term will be more than made up for in the fresh approaches and renewed enthusiasm for teaching already evident among the staff who are taking part in this big learning project.

We are looking forward to sharing our learning with the school community early in Term 4 at a community workshop session similar to the one which kicked off this whole process in October last year.

Parent Power

Waimairi School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) continue to power ahead with their dual roles of building community and supporting the development of our school. We are only half way through the year but it is already time to take stock of the investment in the school that has flowed from everyone's support of PTA activities.

$50,000.00 invested in the wonderful new junior playground.
$3000.00 upgrading our courts and sports equipment.
$5000.00 to establish our school community FM radio station (more info later on this).
$3000.00 for classroom wet day games and activities.

...watch this space as we are currently working on providing some really challenging outdoor play space and equipment and starting to equip our classrooms with data projectors all driven by PTA parent power.

Thanks to the PTA team and all of the school community members who support their fund raising initiatives.

Art Smart

The major focus this term is on the arts, in all their forms. We kicked off the term with a performance blast greeting the school community as they walked in the gate this morning.

It was great to see so many of the kids enjoying the creativity and talents of our guest performers and very exciting to see particular groups of children totally transfixed and deeply connecting with what this term is all about.

A big thanks to Christchurch band Green Like Go and the students of the CPIT Faculty of Creative Industries School of Performing Arts, your performances this morning will have ignited the passion in some youngsters who will follow in your footsteps. Great commitment playing outdoors at 8:00 am in -1 degree temperature.

Link to full photo gallery of Art Smart Ignition Morning

We REALLY have to listen

Tune in to this interview with one of New Zealand's most successful businessmen, Michael Hill.

As I was listening in the car on Saturday morning these things crossed my mind...

What drove his mother to agitate at the school about his class placement? Why did that teacher cross the road to tell him and his family he would amount to nothing? It took 40 years for him to shake it off!

Why is it that you can predict how this story goes as you listen to it? Because it sounds like that of Peter Leech (Mad Butcher), John Britten (world leading motorcycles), Richard Taylor (Weta Workshop) and many other very successful New Zealanders who did not fit the school mold.

We really do miss the impact of the complexity of understanding music on children's brain development.

Teachers...do we value every talent and strength of children in our care?
Parents...what does pressure on only reading and writing and maths do to your children?

Worse things can happen than have kids grow up to be the millionaires mentioned above.

Thanks for the clean car

Members of two of our school netball teams are fundraising to pay for part of the cost of an upcoming training school. They have been very enterprising, as seen today in the staff carpark. Their carwash was popular with the staff. Great value and a job well done. Thanks girls.

Did you know?

A film by Karl Fisch

Why are we frequently talking about change? Why are we on a long and well considered journey towards a new curriculum at our school? Why are we asking big questions about what school needs to look like in the 21st century? Why can't we stay comfortably as we always have been?

This video might answer some of those questions...

...and it might just make you come up with even more questions about the sort of schooling we need to give our kids.

Good to meet

Two weeks of parent/student/teacher meetings are over. Thanks to our wonderful teachers for making themselves available at a variety of times so that as many parents and students as possible could take part.

We all enjoy being able to meet with you and your children to talk in-depth about our core business - your child's learning.

When parents AND children join with the teachers in meetings such as these we are helping the children to see that school is all about them and their learning.
- That all of the adults in their lives communicate with each other.
- That we all love to celebrate their progress and we must always set new goals and challenges to keep the learning momentum going.

This is why we like to have children at the interviews, they doesn't quite mean as much when children are not in the room with us contributing to the process. For some Waimairi classes and families this is a new development, we would love your feedback (add a comment below).

Our next formal reporting point for this school year is a written report, sent home late in Term 3. You should however make contact with your child's teacher well before that if you have a question or would like to follow up on any aspect of your child's learning.

We would also like feedback on our trial of the online interview booking system, share your thoughts with us.

Listening to Torres

In our professional lives we meet many colleagues who have similar ideas or approaches, we meet fewer who share our values and beliefs, and then we meet a very few who do all of the above and also inspire us to 'just be better teachers' and who become good friends.

I first met Marco Torres six years ago and he continues to 'keep me real' no matter what the technological tool, big idea or high concept. We are both Apple Distinguished Educators which means we are lucky enough to have the distance between the USA and New Zealand bridged by us being brought together at education conferences and events. Email, Facebook and instant messenger are not substitutes for real conversations with your friends. Last month we were both keynote speakers at the Middle Years Schooling conference in Brisbane. The messages we delivered to the conference were similar - never before in history have we had the tools in our schools for our children to be producers of, not just consumers of, information.

Marco and I had a mutual (and sadly late) friend Jim Ferguson who left with both of us a burning driver for our work "the kids you have in your class today only have one shot at being kids, you will be a teacher for a long time but they only have one time in their particular year group. Don't plan to make it better next year, do it now!"

You can listen to a radio interview with Marco here, and to part two of the interview here as you reflect on how we can make every moment for our students at Waimairi School more about producing ideas rather than consuming ideas.

Go Go Go Waimairi Teams

A nice email from a grandparent...

"Congratulations to Waimairi school netball teams .I only watch the c team as my grandaughter plays in it but I am so impressed with following:-

1.The ability of the team ...they have won all their games so far.

2.The teacher coach of the c team.I admire her skills and efforts that she puts into the team.She is not only great with the team she has a great knowledge of netball and her refering skills are outstanding.She needs a pat on the back.

3.The uniform that the girls wear and the school has provided is fantastic."

...reminds me of the positive impact that sideline support of our sports teams can have. The kids love us being there and it is very rewarding for those of us watching the games.

You can find the location of our Friday afternoon games here.

Wrap up warm and head out to the fields to make some noise in support of our kids.

Stay true to your values

Here come the National Standards

Educators and parents will hold a range of opinions on this initiative, which was one of the platforms the current government campaigned on.

The Ministry of Education has set up a parents' web page where parents can view some of the proposed material and importantly, give feedback. There are also consultation meetings being held across the country. I am not convinced that they have worked out enough of the details to hold meaningful consultation but will hold off on judgement until next week.

I believe one of the most important things for us all to do as the National Standards are rolled out is stay true to our schools' values and beliefs about powerful learning.

The NZ Curriculum is all about school communities establishing what they value and believe about education, I already worry because I hear principals and teachers engaging in negative thinking. Nobody has told us we now have to 'teach to the test' and sacrifice our local curriculum.

As professional educators we must use our knowledge of child development and education to raise standards of achievement. What are we saying about ourselves when we say that because of the existence of National Standards we can no longer use the teaching practices that we believe our kids need? We decide how we teach. If we believe we are making a difference for children then we should keep on doing so.

I have many unanswered questions about the National Standards. I worry about the media using results to produce 'league tables' and unfairly rank schools. I worry about the potential disruption to the long and well thought out NZ Curriculum implementation process. I worry about clumsy and simplistic measurement of complex child developmental areas such as reading. I worry about the 'value added' to children at school not being captured in simplistic National Standards.

But most of all I worry about teachers and principals throwing in the towel and not innovating because of the existence of the National Standards. If we expect a doom and gloom, 'teaching to the test' system then we will get one - because we are the ones who will decide to deliver it.

Continue to be excited by, and proud of, our revised NZ Curriculum and don't take your eye off the ball. A 'key competencies' driven education system is what this country needs for its future survival. The merely literate and numerate are the new poor. The thinkers, relaters, self-managers, contributors and participants are the new leaders.

Don't sell out our children's futures because of the National Standards.

Turning the tide

This week our school community is coming together to celebrate Maori achievement and to listen to each other's wishes and aspirations for further engaging students and strengthening partnership in learning.

At this time it is interesting to look back at the work led by Prof. Russell Bishop getting teachers to understand the power of relationships with the youngsters in their care.

View TV feature on the project.
Learn more about the book, Culture Speaks:Cultural relationships and classroom learning.

Coffee Meeting

Thanks to the parents who turned up for this term’s morning coffee meeting. We were able to discuss and clarify a wide range of points. Those unable to attend can see what we covered below. Feel free to phone, email or drop in at any time to clarify any questions you may have.

Notes from recent parent questions discussed at Term 2 Coffee Meeting:

Recent ERO Review. Report is still in draft form. Should be published by the end of this term.

Parents’ library
. Reminder that we have a collection of books for parents. Teachers will point parents towards display in library during interviews over next two weeks.

Making the most of school website
. Those lost newsletters and missing sports notices can be found on the ‘SportZone’ and ‘Info Central’ pages on the school website. Also remember to use the ‘Any Questions’ page if you are unable to visit school to ask questions.

Upcoming Maori Consultation.
Invitation for whole community to take part.

Year 3/4 outdoor education programme.
Teachers currently working on details of a y3/4 outdoor challenge event to replace previous Y4 camp. Will involve all Year 3 and 4 classes. Will probably be two day long event including an overnight stay. Scheduled for mid-late Term 4.

Same learning, different contexts:
Why all rivers don’t look the same. There are school-wide focus areas, all classes are working on the same curriculum areas, the contexts used by each class are different.

What is a decile rating?
Explanation that decile ratings are calculated based on community socio-economic data and are not related to teaching and learning or the performance of a school.

We will follow up on parent suggestions to spread notices and newsletters across all Rivers so that more consistent information about school events arrives in each household.

It was noted that children’s ICT skills are surpassing some parents. Student-led lessons for parents are a long term goal to address this issue. Will be 2010 or 2011 when these start.

Our identification of gifted and talented children
was explained. Our aim is to ensure all teachers are challenging and extending children all day, every week - as opposed to sending these children to special events and programmes and believing this alone meets their needs.

We will follow up on parent suggestions to make clear the classroom release timetable for teachers with extra duties.

We will also ensure timely notices are send home when there is an impending change of class teacher.

We clarified that the large number of new entrants this year are IN ZONE students. Out of Zone pupils are not a significant pressure point on numbers in the junior school.

2010 class compositions. We clarified that the make-up of classes for 2010 will be done to meet the needs of the children, not to keep groups together at the expense of teachers’ and parents’ knowledge of what might be best for the child.


For the last few months some of our senior students, together with Windsor School and CORE Education Ltd have been planning Kids’Congress. This local news clip gives you some insight. Our story starts at around the 4.20 point.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 - 07:36 AM
Anna Tweedy
The Organising Committee did a fantastic job and I was very proud to see them in action. Everyone I've spoken to about their involvement has been overwhelmed with what they've achieved and the skills they have learnt really are real life skills - they should be very proud!

Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 05:36 PM
Congratulations! This is fantastic publicity for an event which gives opportunity to many kids to SHINE! Looks like it was another good one and I am so disappointed we no longer have the Auckland event for our kids to participate in as it was a highlight of the year for them.
PS Can't comment on this using Firefox! So switched back to Safari. Off to try Google Chrome to see if your blog will allow it...

Sculpture and playground dedication

Thanks to those who were able to be at school today to dedicate our new junior playground and Te Puna sculpture. Speech text is below.


Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa

Welcome to our guests, parents, and children.

Today we want to thank everyone who supported our PTA in any way during 2008, every contribution (large or small) from buying a coffee in the morning, to taking part in Stars in your Eyes, and everything in between has lead to the financial ability to construct this wonderful new play area.

It gives us great pleasure to have our senior students running this event today it is THEIR school and it is therefore very appropriate that they take the lead role in thanking those who made this possible and also in gifting this playground to their younger friends.

In addition to this playground we are adding some more soul and spirit to the school’s infrastructure with a sculpture here in front of Te Puna.

The name Waimairi is all about water flowing, and we find this is powerful imagery to use as we help our children understand their journey over six years from Te Puna (the spring) into the stronger, deeper and faster moving waters of the whole school and then out into the wider ocean that is the life after primary school.

This piece of art is a stunning and tangible illustration of the learning journey that Waimairi children undertake. Children need to stretch and reach for personal excellence but they also need to use their strengths and talents as a river current to help carry along those who are younger and those with differing levels of ability.

To finish on the same theme I started on, you can help our PTA head towards their 2009 fundraising targets by staying on for a coffee from coffee shop in the hall straight after this event.

Thank you again for the support you give our learning community.

Sculpture and playground dedication

1 Comment
Monday, May 18, 2009 - 07:18 PM

Jane Hunter
Mike - thank you very much for the incrediably warm welcome and the lovely gesture of afternoon tea for the PTA prior to the playground opening and sculpture unveiling on Friday. It was really appreciated and the PTA certainly felt valued by the community.

Haere Ra

Today we bid a sad haere ra to Virgil Hills, our kapa haka teacher. She is moving to the North Island.

Virgil has expertly guided our kapa haka group on their pathway to becoming a stunning performance team.

My first encounter with Virgil was shortly before my arrival at Waimairi School. She travelled to North Loburn School to help prepare our children for the powhiri ceremony to ‘hand me over’ to Waimairi. Her teaching talents immediately struck me.

Virgil has made a significant contribution to the bicultural dimension of our school through her work with children and staff. Hei konā rā Whaea Virgil.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 - 03:04 PM
The Kapa Haka group has added a new dimension to Waimairi School and Whaea V was a warm and friendly personality who will be dearly missed. I hope a suitable replacement will be found soon so that the work we have done can continue.

Term 2 is underway. The school-wide theme this term is Bigger, Faster, Stronger.

To ignite the children’s interest as soon as they set foot in the school gate for the new term we had a collection of big, fast and/or strong toys for them to play with.

Each River and individual class will be putting their own spin on the ‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster theme this term but all focussing on the science strand of the New Zealand Curriculum and the key competency THINKING.

Pictures of our Bigger, Stronger, Faster ignition morning here

Many thanks to

NZ Fire Service, Harewood Station.

Canterbury Car Club Inc.

Fulton Hogan Ltd

for letting us play with your big, strong, and fast toys today.

We have ignition


Monday, April 27, 2009 - 09:05 PM
Dorothy Burt
That sounds likes like so much fun. What a cool school to be part of. Look forward to getting ideas from you as the term unfolds.

Thursday, April 30, 2009 - 10:29 PM
What a great way to start the term. Loads of excitement with the big 'toys' and the new playground and the new markings. Looking forward to seeing the childrens work on 'bigger, faster, stronger'.

The end of term 1

Well folks, the end of Term 1 is here.

Time for your feedback.

Add your thoughts on any aspect of the term.

Leave your name or stay anonymous.

Your feedback is important.

Parents, students or teachers - let’s hear your voice.

1 Comment

Friday, April 24, 2009 - 07:24 PM
It's been a great term, I think. The river system is working brilliantly. Good job Team Waimairi!
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The Hattie Effect

What would happen if...

A leading New Zealand academic published research that contained findings that could easily be condensed into ‘sound-bites’ that could be used in news headlines?

We would see headlines like these...

Reason to say no to homework.

Study on student success finds teachers’ pay key.

Teaching counts more than class size – study.

Learning study supports pay rise for top teachers.

Pay key to good teaching: expert Reducing class sizes not as important...

Class size does not make a difference.

...and we did, they are actual news headlines from media outlets. They are simplistic headlines that capture the attention of teachers and parents. The risk is that teachers and parents will then start forming opinions and even make decisions based on them.

Before you get swept away in the tornado of opinion why not try reading John Hatties’ book? Form you own opinion based on his work not the news media interpretation of it?

I hope to have a couple of copies available in the parent section of the library early next term or you can use this link to get your own copy.

You might also like to then read this

INVISIBLE LEARNINGS? A commentary on John Hattie’s “Visible Learning:A Synthesis of over 800 Meta- Analyses Relating to Achievement”

Good luck with forming your own opinions - share them here as a comment when you do.

Friday, April 24, 2009 - 07:22 PM
Thanks for this, Mike. It's always good to be provoked. These are clearly challenges for you and the team to manage and it's great to know that we have a principal who is leading this by reading and engaging in the most up to date research.

I would just like to ask, though - do you think we'll see, in our lifetimes, the day when teachers are paid to the level of value they really do add to society? Come on Mike? Gaze into your crystal ball!

Friday, April 24, 2009 - 10:53 PM
A very interesting question, thanks for posting it. This blog is all about discussion and this is a great example of it happening.

You ask do I "think we'll see, in our lifetimes, the day when teachers are paid to the level of value they really do add to society?"

The perception of value is different for each section of society. I have taught across all sections of society and through different time periods of teachers' pay levels.

When I graduated 18 years ago it took me 4 months to get my first teaching job. So I extended my student job to full time work. When I left my job pumping gas at Shell Bryndwr to teach my first class I had to take a pay cut. Yes, I earned less as a 1st year teacher than I did checking your oil and washing your windscreen.

Then after a few years (and after the only strike primary teachers did in living memory) pay parity with secondary teachers kicked in. Finally we were paid on the basis of our qualifications and efforts rather than the age of the kids we taught.

So now all teachers are paid on that basis it comes down to a perception of value in your own school community.

I have worked in schools where the parent community see teachers wages way above what they earn and are therefore overpaid, and in schools where the parent community way below what they earn and are therefore underpaid.


Our very successful ‘walk and wheel’ to school message has seen more and more families making the trip to school a fun family event, involving all family members, even the four-legged ones. If you take your family dog for a walk on the way to school please consider those members of our school community who are not keen on dogs.

Keep your dog on a leash.

Please don’t leave your dog tied up and unattended outside classrooms or on the scooter racks. Some children really do not like dogs and your dog’s unattended presence gives these kids a stressful start to the day.

Also consider the impact of your dog in classrooms, have you asked your child’s teacher how they feel? Some might say no, some might ask for more regular visits – get the communication going and find out.

And… don’t forget your plastic bag, sadly some dog owning parents are leaving the poo behind.

As a dog owner myself I believe that animals at school are a positive presence, if managed well. So please listen to the valid concerns of the non-dog loving members of our school community to keep Waimairi School a happy place for all two and four legged beings.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

PS, Yes the cute dog in the picture is my boy Murphy.

PS, Yes the cute dog in the picture is my boy Murphy.


Thursday, March 26, 2009 - 09:52 PM
Hi Mike

I LOVE DOGS however I am not happy about them being in the school grounds with large groups of children. It is an accident waiting to happen.
Friday, March 27, 2009 - 11:51 AM
I would like to continue to have dogs in the school and I agree with the points you have outlined - I cant believe some have been brought into classrooms without permission and some poos havent been picked up. That is a real shame and reflects badly on the majority of parents that bring dogs into school with no negative impact. I agree that dogs should not be allowed to be tied up unattended either as there is potential for disaster.
Having dogs in the school is a very positive experience for children and parents with children who are nervous around dogs should see this as an opportuntiy to teach your child how to respond appropriately.
As a parent of the school but also as a dog trainer and an educator who runs dog safety programmes in schools and preschools, I have been teaching New Entrants at Waimairi for a few years now as well as the local kindy. I am very proud to say that I observe almost all children at the school responding appropriately to dogs and around the school - asking to pat the dog before approaching, patting it correctly and safely and not being silly around them. Well done!
Having any animals in the school is a wonderful experience for children - dog owners please don't ruin it by not controlling or looking after your dog while at school. It would be a shame to lose this special part of Waimairi culture. Finally, parents of children who dont like dogs - please dont tar and feather all dogs in front of your child. Children respond to the signals you give out - if you appear fearful they will expect that something negative is going to happen. Please see dogs(or any animal) in the school as a wonderful learning experience - a chance for you to help your child overcome a fear.

I am more than happy to assist the school again in teaching safe dog handling practices, advising dog owners/ staff/ parents on appropriate ways of working with dogs, or providing one on one positive experiences with one of my dogs and children wanting to overcome a fear.

Susan Tansey

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - 01:03 PM
Phoebe Fulton
I like dogs too although I am currently not a dog owner, and my children love going up to the fence to talk to our neighbours dog. I also know some children who see a dog and take a wide berth, many times with good reason. Most dog owners say their dogs wouldnt hurt anyone and they are probably right although sometimes they jump up at you, and bark or take off when another dog approaches and that is often the time when children are scared. I dont think any child need be subjected to that at school. I think educating the children about dogs and how to behave around them is very beneficial however I would still rather dogs stayed at home or outside the school grounds. I seem to have noticed more dog poo around the school grounds this year than ever before although this probably cant be attributed to the dogs who come in to the school grounds on leads to drop off or collect their 'mates' before and after school.

Friday, April 3, 2009 - 08:49 AM
I walk to school each day with Doug the Dog as it is my belief that dogs need to be well socialised and are more likely to respond in a positive manner towards children if they are used to them.
The children at Waimaire are polite and generally ask before touching a dog.
Of course all dogs need to be kept on a lead and any doggy doo must be picked up, this is council bylaw as well as good manners. I have only seen well behaved dog owners at the school and agree that animals at school are a positive presence.

Friday, April 24, 2009 - 10:07 PM
I agree that animals are a positive presence, however I believe this is up to the parents to manage what experiences their children should have with dogs or any other pet.

I for one would rather see dogs outside of the school grounds. A stressful experience in the morning of encountering a dog (for my child) has repercussions for more than just the 2 minute encounter with the actual animal. Such an encounter stays with my child for most of the morning, and disturbs her learning.

Thursday, June 4, 2009 - 04:20 PM
Chris Jenkins
I love to see dogs at school with their families but agree with Mike that dog owners need to be careful of anyone nervous of dogs and keep them on a short leash, pick up mess and not leave them tied up anywhere. If dogs are included in the "Walk to School" outings families are more likely to walk. Dogs are great motivators!!
Having just lost my beautiful Sammy at the ripe old age of 15 I understand how important dogs are to their owners and to exclude them causes stress.

More on creativity

Last year I featured a movie clip of Sir Ken Robinson on this blog. This clip generated lots of discussion with parents and between our teachers.

I’m grateful to Carol for letting me know that Ken Robinson was interviewed on National Radio on Friday. Here is the link to the podcast of that interview.

Have a listen and share your thoughts.

Dads in the rain

Ten Waimairi dads kindly gave their time on Sunday morning to dismantle the junior playground. Some parts are heading away to be reconditioned before Playco use them as part of the new playground.

Thanks to the team of dads who turned up on a rainy morning to get stuck in with tools, shovels and of course... a digger (we need big toys to play with when we get together). Your help is really appreciated and I hope you enjoyed getting home into dry clothes as much as I did. Big thanks to Michael Fulton for organising the event.

View pictures of the working bee

Parent education night

Due to a date clash with part of our Education Review Office visit we have had to postpone our planned parents’ literacy learning information evening.

We will be running this event next term. Stay tuned for a new date and time.

Junior class sizes

Class sizes in the junior school.

Unexpected roll growth has lifted junior class numbers higher than we would like them to be. We would like to act quickly to address this issue. This letter is to inform you about how we intend to meet the needs of children in our NE/Year 1/Year 2 classes. (Rms 3,5,6,10,14 and 20) NB this will not include any children from Rm 1.

Our Board of Trustees is supporting us by resourcing a new Year 1/2 class. This class will be taught by Delwyn McGrath and be based in Room 4 and will be part of the Hurunui River team for the rest of this year.

Mrs McGrath will be teaching this group of children in the mornings from week 8 of this term (23 March) to lower numbers in all Year 1 and 2 classes at literacy and numeracy time. She will commence full time teaching of this new class in term 2.

We will be putting together the new Room 4 as a well balanced, functioning class with the same range of abilities and needs found in any other room.

Teachers will be contacting families of children being considered for the new Room 4. You will have a choice, we will not move children from their current rooms against your wishes.

The Year 1 and 2 team are meeting on Monday afternoon to consider the composition of Room 4 and will be in contact with you if applicable.

As in previous years another two junior classes will be established, one around Queens Birthday weekend and another as new entrant numbers demand it later in the year.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

News from the Christchurch Avon Athletics Club (CHAV) of great achievement by past and present Waimairi students.

Following last weekend’s Canterbury Champs met at QEII Goiteom Gebremedihin and Laura Clarke have been chosen (along with approx 70 other athletes) to represent Canterbury at this weekends triangular meet in Dunedin against Otago / Southland / Canterbury. Ex Waimairi students also going are: Charlotte Hadfield and Rebecca Gillett.

This Friday night at the International Track Meet at QEII, CHAV was approached to enter relay teams. Ella-Rose Tanoa-Kell and Laura Clarke are running for 8yr girls in this event which their team won at Canterbury Champs.

Thanks to the Clarke family for this update. If you know about any Waimairi success make sure you let us know so we can all celebrate the achievement.

1 Comment Manage Comments for this Entry
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 01:19 PM
Go Goiteom! I hope you get over that broken arm injury soon because we need you in the school team. Drink lots of milk to make that bone strong...

Reporting to parents

I would like to introduce teachers Adie Bonisch and Robert Naysmith who are leading our curriculum development in 2009 and running this email discussion group.

They will be facilitating this email reference group, don't forget to tell any interested friends you have to email them Adie.Bonisch@waimairi.school.nz or Robert.Naysmith@waimairi.school.nz to join the group.

And while we are consulting don’t forget this term’s policy review feedback details here.

Let the discussion begin.......



Developing the New Waimairi School Curriculum

Thanks you to those who have volunteered to be involved with this working group.

Your contribution will help further clarify findings from the survey completed by many families last year.

Join the email group or add a comment to this blog entry.

Question 1

Reporting to Parents:

This is an area that our survey indicated needs change.

Questions to consider and comment on.

What do you value about reporting?

What areas of reporting are important to you? Social, academic? Why?

We report verbally and in written form. Which do you find valuable/prefer and why?

Do you find the reporting methods currently used in different areas of the school beneficial, confusing?

Please answer as you wish, these questions are just to get you thinking.

The information below explains where we are up to as a school with the New Curriculum and community consultation.

Where we are at with the new curriculum and community consultation.

At the end of last year the consultation process began in order to reach shared ideas about the school and where it should be heading. The response was fantastic and has helped us with our thinking. To start with staff have used this information to help form shared values and beliefs about education. The new New Zealand curriculum allows schools to focus on areas that are valued by them and the community, and to enhance these areas to improve outcomes/learning for children.

To begin the 2009 year all staff went to Wainui YMCA camp for two days to start the process of defining our core shared values and beliefs about education. We started to define what was important to us as a school and community, and what we value and want for our children. From this we will develop programmes and practices where our values and beliefs are the driving force. These values and beliefs are being defined at present and will be shared with the community shortly.

Throughout this year staff will be working to develop our new ‘Waimairi School’ Curriculum, which will reflect the staff and communities values and beliefs on education. A representative working group of parents (you) has been formed to help clarify some details as we move forward. Specific points raised throughout the survey will be addressed through this process. With your help we are now able to continue to develop our fantastic school.


Robert Naysmith and Adie Bonisch

(Curriculum Development Team)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 07:57 AM
Rob & Adie
What do you value about reporting?

I like to get the end of year written report. I would prefer to get it in Term 4. In it I would like to see where my child is placed on the scale when they entered the class(after the testing in the first few weeks) and where they are at the end of the year. (For example...At term 1 xx is a Year 5 working at Level 3 and got 82/100 in the ?Test but at the end of year she got 99/100. This places her in the top 3 % of her age group). I would assume that testing would happen far more regularly than twice a year so that at any time a parent could ask this question and an answer given. I like to see evidence of the improvement they have made over the year both nationally and individually.

If there is an emphasis on the 'Two Key Goals' then I would like to see evidence by way of reference to that goal being achieved or not, so that two more goals can be set next year.

Update on childs progress (skills acheived and challenges that need addressing),
chance to discuss one on one with the teacher,
in the case of a written report a tangible update that can be shared with extended family and absentee parent,

What areas of reporting are important to you? Social,academic why?

First and foremost I want to see academic improvements in the school report so that I am able to see which things we can work on and a general direction for the next year. Then I want to see how my child is adding value to the class by behaviour, socialisation and positive participation in all aspects of school life. I'm not particularly interested in reading a teacher comment about their helpfulness,ability to keep the classroom clean and tidy and their willingness to help others(again) without first concentrating on their academic abilities.

Both although we celebrate and reward (special family dinner) the achievements in the social; side of the report rather than the academic as I believe this is the aspect of schooling that a child can control along with effort. While academic achievement is so different for every child largely based on what they have been gifted or not gifted with. I see academic reports as an update for me on progress.

We report verbally and in written form. Which do you find valuable/prefer and why?

I prefer the written end of year report but I can see value in having a verbal report/ parent meeting around the end of term 2, start of term 3 so that any problems or concerns can be acted upon before the end of the year.

I value both

Verbal, it is great to be one to one and have the option to ask questions.

Written, important to have a written update for the year and I like getting it in term 3 when there is still time to address any issues that may come to light rather the end of term 4 when the yr is done and dusted.

Do you find the reporting methods currently used in different areas of the school beneficial, confusing?

I do not like the A4 Topic and Term reports sent home at various times. This information should be on the one report at the end of the year. It is very messy to have several bits of paper to keep track of rather than one report.

I prefer the report issued to the senior part of the school and to be honest can barely remember the junior school one but at the time I thought it covered enough depth for the level.

General thoughts

I like being able to bring my child with me to interviews
I do like the annual report cards however based on feedback from others wonder if a how to read guide as the document is complicated .. what do parents from other parts of the community say …
I like getting the report at the end term3 or beginning term 4
I would like to know what my child needs to do to move onto the next step In learning

My children have always been informative about their school days so I usually know when testing and PAT’s etc have been carried out and usually make time to touch base with the teacher re the results.

Meet the teachers

It was great to see so many of you at the meet the teacher evening this week. Please see this evening of the beginning of contact and conversation between you and your children’s teachers.

Those who stayed for Alison’s Shroeder’s workshop were treated to some excellent insights into child behaviour and positive ways of dealing with some of the more frustrational aspects of parenting. Alison has provided her handout notes for you, collect a copy from Sue in the office.

Monday, March 2, 2009 - 08:44 PM
Hi everyone

Alison's workshop was brilliant. Really well run, and something for everyone in it. Is there any chance of the powerpoint being posted here?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 - 09:08 AM
Good suggestion. I have contacted Alison to see if this is possible

Monday, March 16, 2009 - 02:15 PM
Ditto above. Would like to be able to download the notes, etc. from here. Also, interesting to note how many parents were there, is this indicative of the size of the 'problem' (i.e. planning, organising, learning difficulties, etc.)?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 11:20 AM
Alison has kindly agreed and will be providing the notes as a download soon.
We had around 60 people present for Alison's workshop.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 01:07 PM
You can now download a copy of Alison's slides from the "Info' Central" page of our school website www.waimairi.school.nz . Many thanks Alison for making these available

A levels playing field

If my child is a Year 4 student and in a Year 3 & 4 class how on earth can his teacher cover his Year 4 work and also teach the Year 3 kids their Year 3 work?

A common question with a fairly straightforward answer. There is no Year 3 curriculum, Year 6 curriculum or Year 1 curriculum for that matter.

During their time at primary school children work towards attaining skills and knowledge at three levels of achievement. By the end of Year 2 we are looking for attainment at level 1, by the end of Year 4 attainment at level 2 and by the end of Year 6 attainment at level 3. You can see from the chart above that it is a two-year journey for most children between levels.

Most children in Year 1/2 and 3/4 and 5/6 are working at the towards the same level. This is why we take advantage of composite classes to allow us to group children who will work best together. There are, of course, children who develop much faster or much slower. This is why we group classes together in vertical teams, tribes or rivers. With synchronised timetables within a team containing all age groups children can work with the teacher and children, at certain times of the day, best matching their needs in key subject areas such as maths, reading and writing. During the next few months some of our teachers will begin trialling this new flexibility with groups of children.

New Junior Playground

Thanks to our PTA, with support from the Eureka Trust, we plan to start construction of a brand new playground specially designed for our smallest students. This project, costing in excess of $50,000.00 is a stunning example of the parent power harnessed by our PTA. Thanks to not just the PTA committee but to all of you who have attended events or bought fundraising products, your money is being put to a very good use.

At this stage construction is planned for the April holidays.

Working on our school

Businesses often stagnate or even fail because those involved spend most of their time working ‘in’ their business rather than working ‘on’ their business. At times the same can be said of schools. At the end of January almost all of our 48 staff spent two days at Wainui on Banks Peninsular working ‘on’ our school.

The mission was to work out exactly what we value and believe about learning, teaching and working at Waimairi School. Our new school curriculum, our policy documents, our rules and procedures and our daily interactions with children and parents need to be based on a common and agreed set of values and beliefs to make sure everyone is working to realise our shared vision for the school.

It takes a long time, and will always be an evolving process but thank to parent input, the staff and Board are now forming our School Charter for 2009 - 2011. This public document will contain:

Who we are - information about the school, its community, history, location, etc.

The school vision

How the Board will recognise New Zealand’s cultural diversity and, in particular, how i will provide learning opportunities in Tikanga Mäori and Te Reo Mäori.

A strategic planning section that sets out the Board’s objectives for student achievement for the next 3 to 5 years and the ways in which the Board intends to achieve those objectives.

The expectations set out in this section will reflect the Board’s decisions as to how it intends to meet the aspirations of the school’s community, and how it intends to contribute to the achievement of national education priorities.

This section will also contain or refer to:

the Board’s longer-term curriculum development and implementation priorities;

the Board’s 3 to 5 year financial objectives, including how the Board will monitor and control Board expenditure in a prudent fashion and how it will meet its financial reporting and auditing responsibilities.

the Board’s plan for providing a safe and healthy learning environment, including either a copy of or summary of the school’s 10 year property plan.

The Charter must also include an annual plan that will need to be updated each year.

In this section the Board will set out the short-term priorities and targets for improving student achievement, which it has set for the coming year, to make progress towards its strategic objectives. This must detail how the Board intends to achieve those outcomes.

In this section the Board will also describe or refer to:

its capital improvement and maintenance projects for the forthcoming year including all significant expenditure items;

its plans for personnel development, performance management, and meeting EEO obligations;

its financial plans which show how resources will be allocated to achieve improved student outcomes; and

the school’s annual budgeted financial statements;

its health and safety strategies for staff and students;

how the Board intends to implement and integrate programmes for which the school may have been granted special support or additional resources.

The Board will also use the Charter to communicate:

Its proposed processes and timelines for consultation with the school’s community including the Mäori community (as required in the NAGs).