Principal's Message

Principal’s Message – Mid Term 1, 2022

At this time of year we are normally looking backwards, at our work last year, and looking forwards, making plans for the rest of the year based on the data we have collected from last year.

Mark Twain famously said: “there are lies, damned lies and statistics” and I’m conscious of this whenever I collect data – am I just trying to prove the thing that I believe? 

For many years, I have been collecting data in relation to two particular areas in the school: attendance and connection. 

In the area of attendance, I am particularly interested in the effect of attendance on achievement rates for NCEA. If you look at the table below, this is really well shown at year 11 / level 1 last year. The achievement rate for the year group for this qualification was 73.8% but this was easily exceeded by those students who attended more than 90% of the time – 92.6%. The difference in achievement for those who attend 80% of the time or more and those who attend less than 80% of the time, couldn’t be clearer.

Year level Qualification Attendance # achieved Total Achievement %
11 NCEA L1 90+% 150 162 92.6
80-89% 48 62 77.4
<80% 14 54 25.9

In terms of connection, I compare NCEA achievement with involvement in ‘groups’ (cultural and sporting) as recorded in our system. The table below may be a little harder to understand and I find the link between the level of achievement at NCEA and involvement in groups fascinating. The first row says that there are 117 students in year 11 who were involved in some form of extra curricular activity last year, out of 290 students (you may immediately notice this total is different to the total above but that is because only students who are with us for more than 70 days can be counted in NCEA statistics). Of these 117 students, those who achieved the qualification with Excellence were involved in, on average, 2 ‘groups’ while those who didn’t achieve the qualification were only involved with, on average, 0.3 groups. By year 13 the difference is even more stark (4 and 0.7 respectively).

Year 11 Year 12 Year 13
Number of students in 1 or more group 117 127 160
Percentage in 1 or more group 40.3% 44.7% 54.6%
Ave number of groups – students with E 2 3.3 4
Ave number of groups – students with M 1.4 1.6 2.5
Ave number of groups – students with A 1 0.9 1.4
Ave number of groups – students with N 0.3 0.5 0.7
Total number of  students 290 284 293

In addition to this table, at year 13 in 2021, we had 33 students achieve Excellence endorsement at level 3 (which means that 50 credits or more were at Excellence level – a fantastic achievement!). Of these 33 students, 27 of them, or 82%, were involved in at least one extra curricular activity. Compare this with 112 students who ‘achieved’ the level 3 qualification (still a very good result) and only 60 of them, or 54%,  were involved in at least one other extra curricular activity.

These links between attendance and achievement, and connection and achievement are probably quite obvious. They are a pattern that I have observed and measured over a number of years and I have shared similar information with you in the past. 

When our new students turned up at the start of the year, I emphasised that they are at the start of a new journey and that they should be looking for opportunities to connect with us and other people at school.

Human connection has become more difficult in the last few years but it is so important for the wellbeing of all of our young people. With this in mind I am sharing a link with you to our aroha day activities. Aroha day is an event we hold at the start of the year to advertise the many, varied opportunities that exist at Wellington High School, outside of the classroom. This year we have had to move ‘aroha day’ online because of the COVID Protection Framework settings at red. I hope you can take time to have a look at what’s available and encourage your young person to give something a go! My observation over many years is that the rewards for such endeavour are quite tangible indeed!

Ngā mihi

Dominic Killalea