Principal's Message

Principal’s Message – Mid Term 2, 2024

Thank you for the response to my email in relation to school donations, fees and other charges a couple of weeks ago. I have had many families get in touch with me needing support and other families able to provide support. Miraculously, the two seem to be balancing financially at the moment and I appreciate the community action to help each other in times like these.

The media interest in this was interesting and I was a little reluctant to speak in the first place because I wasn’t keen to highlight further the financial challenges that some families are facing. Perhaps this was a misjudgement on my part as the media angle seemed to ask reasonable questions about funding for schools. Anyway the Post version of the story ran with me not “responding to requests for comment”. However, I learned my lesson and I spoke to RNZ about the email in a broader context of education funding or underfunding. I also learned that RNZ hold a much better file picture of Julia Davidson than me.

Winter sports are well underway with nearly 600 of our students and approximately 65 teams competing over a range of sports: badminton, basketball, football, netball, table tennis, ultimate and underwater hockey. Our philosophy in relation to sport is that there should be a level at which every student can participate and enjoy themselves. I have mentioned in my messages previously about the link between connection to the school through sports, cultural activities and clubs and academic achievement. There is also a strong connection between this involvement and attendance at school. In 2023, the average attendance of students who participated in at least one sport or cultural activity or club was 15 percentage points higher than those who didn’t participate in any sport, cultural activity or club. 

This is because students build connections with other students through these activities – they become part of a team and the team depends on them. They commit and they have to honour their commitment to each other. At the same time they are building friendships which they want to further cultivate at school.

This is the time of year when we are opening up our school for prospective enrolments at our annual open evening on Monday 10 June. I mentioned in my mid term one message that in 2014, our school roll was 1028 students. We continue to grow and we have reached 1628 students as of 1 June – that’s another 600 students in ten years. As I have also mentioned previously, this has brought challenges but we have recently welcomed the first of our three promised roll growth classrooms for this year, perched behind the ‘graf’ wall, and it will begin use at the start of term three. Further, we have already completed planning for some work later in the year to improve our music facilities and accommodate an extra classroom in the existing spaces. Sitting alongside all of this is the design phase of our master plan which we hope to recommence soon, on the delivery of the ministry property review. It is encouraging to see that the government is setting aside an extra $1.48 billion for school property in the recent budget, although it is a shame that increases to areas in the education budget come at a cost to other areas such as school lunches, and only modest increases to operating grants that won’t keep pace with anticipated inflation. Returning to the start of this message, it would have been good to see a substantial increase to operations budgets for all schools, strengthening the whole of the public system and working towards truly free education.

Ngā mihi

Dominic Killalea