Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Thursday, 9 September 2010
The school is still waiting for a second inspection by a structural engineer from the Ministry of Education. We sustained some new damage in Wednesday's aftershock. It is likely that this damage is only superficial but we want to be absolutely sure before we allow the staff to return to school.
Miranda, Toby and I attended a very useful meeting run by the Ministry of Education's Traumatic Incident team this morning. They had lots of useful information on the best way to support children and the families after last weekend's events. The staff will be meeting tomorrow, hopefully at school but maybe in another location. Here is a summary of what we will be talking about and the plans that we have put in place to help you and your children on Monday:
Our first priority will be to restore a sense of normality and routine for the children and staff.
What we will do:
• The school day will start how it always starts. Teachers will be in their classrooms from 8.30am and I will be in the playground along with Toby and Miranda.
• We will not be holding an assembly because it is better for the children to be with their teacher and classmates in their familiar classroom environment.
• The teachers will have key and accurate information to share with the children – for example if any teachers are not in school, they will be able to explain why.
• The children will want to talk about what has happened to them and what they saw. Teachers will support these conversations through discussions, drawings, story telling etc, and by ensuring the positive aspects of events are emphasised.
• if children have lost possessions or things that are important to them, the teachers will acknowledge this loss and speak about ways that they can do to work towards replacing these items
• If there are after-shocks, we will follow our well-established earthquake drills. That drill is to drop, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on, or shelter against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases etc.
• The teachers will have been through the Civil Defence advice carefully.
• We will give the children an opportunity to tell their stories and keep the focus on how well families and community have managed.
What we need parents to do:
Parents will also be anxious about their children starting back at school and may want to hang around the classroom after 8.55am. To help the children settle back in to routine and to help reduce any anxiety, it is best if parents can leave the classroom before or as soon as the school bell rings. The trauma team has advised us of this action. Asking parents to leave is not easy for teachers so I would really appreciate your help with this. We will be putting on tea and coffee in the village for any parents who want to stay close to their children for the start of the day.
The earthquake will have resulted in a range of reactions and questions from children depending on their experience of the event and their dispositions:
• anxiety, fear of reoccurrence of the event
• some children may revert to behaviours of younger children such as thumb sucking, bed wetting, etc
• wondering what will happen next
• concerns about being separated from their parents and whānau.
Typically most children will be coping with what they have experienced – but they will still have questions, want to talk about it, and hear from others. Children will be looking to us to provide a sense of safety and security. Children who experience high levels of social support from parents, friends and teachers have been found to cope well.
• Provide assurance that all reactions are normal.
• Provide opportunities to keep routines going as much as possible and highlight what is and can be done to get things back to normal.
• Remember that children listen closely to what adults talk about and they pick up on adults' reactions very well. Keep things positive and emphasise how people have coped and what’s being done - at a government, council and community level, at a school level and family and neighbours. Buildings and homes have been damaged and that makes people sad but we have all done well.
• Focus on how things will be in the future.
Stay safe this weekend and I look forward to seeing you all on Monday morning.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Friday, 30 July 2010
We have also been working on the online version of Learning Reports and are at a stage where we really need some help from a web security expert. The system is up and running but needs auditing to ensure it is safe from hackers. If you are, or know of, a web security expert please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
I have been thinking a lot about the possibilities of the new apple iPad for education. A lot of comments have been appearing on blogs and in the news media about the limitations of the new device, however I am becoming more and more convinced by the possibilities. They offer a cheap (ish) computer which will allow our children to do everything that they currently use Macbooks for (with the exception of video editing). The price point means that we could look at buying 3 iPads for the price of one laptop and that means more technology in the hands of more children, more of the time.
I have believed for a long time that the iPod touch had a lot of potential in the primary school classroom but the screen size was prohibitive. Now that obstacle has been removed, we can really start to look closely at the opportunities of this new technology. The iPad would nicely compliment our pedagogical approaches and support the children's ability to blog and share their learning online. So roll on April when we can get our hands on an iPad and test it out with our children!
Thursday, 26 November 2009
There is a wealth of educational research from around the world that shows National Standards do not work! When I first moved from the UK system into the New Zealand one, it was like a breath of fresh air. The schooling system here is based on children's needs, it is fun, exciting and challenging and the new curriculum is wonderful. In contrast, the UK system has suffered greatly from years of National Standards that have forced schools to focus their attention on the few children who are on the cusp of "crossing the line". The children who are safely meeting the standard do not, therefore, get the extension that they need to keep their learning moving forward. Our New Zealand curriculum aims to educate the whole child and at Fendalton the key to that is knowing our children. It the relationships between teachers and children working together to meet individual needs that make a difference to their progress. National Standards risk narrowing the curriculum and over-simplifying learning.
If you would like to read more about some of the concerns with National Standards please follow these links.
Fact Sheet from the NZPF
New Zealand Principal's Federation
Academics’ Open Letter to Hon Anne Tolley
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
This afternoon, the Middle Team performed their 'Sparkle Taker' show for the rest of the school and they were spectacular!
Monday, 12 October 2009
The Powhiri is an impressive tradition to be part of and it is a great way to bring to school communities together and formally hand over a staff member. It was a pleasure to be able to take some 30 children from our school down to Burnham and for them to be part of the experience. Burnham is a lucky school to have Rob as their new principal and we all wish him the very best of luck in his new role.
My part from the Powhiri:
Ko te mihi tuatahi ki te atua, tena koe.
E te whare e tu nei, te papa ki waho ra tena korua.
Ki nga mate kua hinga i te po moe mai i roto i te ringa o te atua.
Tatau te hunga ora e huihui mai nei, tena koutou, tena koutou
tena koutou katoa.
Tena koutou e te iwi kainga mo te reo powhiri ki a matau.
He honore tenei kua tae mai matau ki waenganui i a koutou.
E nga mana, e nga reo, rau rangatira ma, tena koutou, tena
koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Friday, 28 August 2009
The location for the new library was decided after surveying the school staff on the best option. The site is just next to the main school office beside the basketball court. This is a central location that puts the library where it should be, in the heart of the school.
This project is being funded by the Ministry of Education as part of the ratio changes being introduced at year 1. The Ministry have given the school $320,000 to help us meet the classroom space requirements of reduced class sizes in year 1. As a board, we decided to spend this money on building a brand new library and using other funds to convert the existing library into classrooms. The new library will be slightly smaller than our existing one but will provide us with a much lighter, brighter and more welcoming space for our children to read and learn in. The Ministry property funding guidelines limit the size of library that we are able to build.
Please have a look at the images here or pop in to the school office to see the printed versions. You can make comments via the drop box in the office or by completing the form below. Please let us know what you think of the ideas and plans, we want to make our new library a place that children a rushing to go to and we need your ideas to help make this a reality. Thank you!