This year has brought challenges. I have detailed these in previous messages. I expect there are more in store in relation to COVID next year when we are living with it in our community. It is hard to know what that will look like but it will affect attendance at school for teachers and students as people have to self isolate. This may put strains on us as a school if we have a number of staff absent (and if other local schools do as well as it will shrink the pool of relieving teachers), and it may be difficult for students if there are prolonged absences.
School is such a strong connector for our young people and this is one of the reasons it is so hard when they can’t ‘do’ school as normal. Having said that, spirits are high at school currently and students have been engaging in the usual, wide array of curricular and cocurricular activities.
The last four weeks of school have seen most of our seniors doing exams and our juniors following their regular programmes. End of year celebrations are muted as we can’t offer the normal prizegivings but everyone is doing the best they can, in the circumstances, and I’ve seen lots of students with big smiles on their faces. Imminent long holidays no doubt help with this!
Schools have been following the level system until the end of the year and schools move to the COVID Protection Framework (CPF) in the new school year. I have already outlined, in previous communications, the changes this will bring to schooling and the implications for participation in sports and EOTC in particular. I suspect we will see a change to these policies when we reach vaccination targets and I sincerely hope that happens sooner rather than later as I want all of our students to be able to benefit from all of the enriching co-curricular opportunities on offer.
If you have visited the school in recent times you would have noticed scaffolding in various areas. There has been a lot of maintenance work occurring and we still have a number of problems with our ageing infrastructure. We are currently in talks with the ministry and architects to redevelop and rethink areas of the school and I hope to be able to tell you more about these plans in the new year. I am excited to announce that there will be work occurring on our field from mid-January to convert it into an all weather playing surface. Our field is our only real green space but it spends at least half the year in an unusable state. The new turf will address this and provide a better facility for the school as well as foreshadowing other plans that I hope to share with you at some stage.
I hope that you are able to spend valuable time with your young person over the break and we look forward to seeing all of our students back again in the new year.
Kia pai ngā hararei – have a good holiday!