Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Community Consultation

Dear Parents/Caregivers

The Board of Trustees is reviewing the Papakowhai School Strategic Plan. We want to receive feedback on our current plan and receive ideas to inform the planning for the next 3-5 years. Yesterday each family was been given a booklet that contained:

  • A survey form
  • The current strategic plan.
  • The 2012 achievement targets for the school
  • The 2011 National Standards data for Papakowhai School.
If you didn’t receive a booklet check with your child or his/her teacher. If you need a new booklet you can email me and I will send you one. We would like as many families as possible to complete the survey found on page 3 and 4. There are two ways to complete the survey:

We also want parents and caregivers to attend one of three focus groups to be held in the school staffroom. Bring a friend and meet some other parents from Papakowhai School. Supper or morning tea will be provided.

  • Wednesday 29th August 7pm – 9:30 pm
  • Thursday 30th August  9am – 12pm
  • Wednesday 5th of September 7pm – 9:30pm (Māori and Pasifika families)
All parents/caregivers are welcome to attend one or more of these groups. Please contact the Office by phone (233-8321) or email (office@papakowhai.school.nz) if you are able to attend.

 What would you talk about at a focus group? There are 6 questions we want to talk about.

1.       Does the vision statement still accurately reflect the aspirations of our community for our children?

2.       Are the values expressed in our plan a complete list and to what extent are they explored and modelled?

3.       Is the current set of goals clear and meaningful for our community and do they fully embody the principles of the New Zealand Curriculum?

4.       Is the current set of key targets within each goal promoting high standards for school governance, management, teaching and learning?

5.       Is the current strategic direction forward thinking and helping us to become the school that we want to be in 3 years’ time?

6.       Are the achievement goals for students at Papakowhai School promoting high standards and expectations for all students? Do the actions of our teachers reflect these goals for all students?

 I would really value people making time to be part of this process. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Mark Smith

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Maths Week

Dear Parents/Caregivers

It is Maths Week this week. I have to confess that Maths is my favourite subject; I know some people will think that is a bit strange but I firmly believe that Maths is not a hard subject that only a few people are good at. I believe that when Maths is well taught it is a subject that everyone can enjoy success at.

If Maths is a subject that your child finds easy and enjoys then great! Children who are good at Maths need to be extended so that they don’t become bored. Have a look at what they are doing on Mathletics; if they have completed the activities or they are finding them too easy, talk to your child’s teacher about adjusting the level or contact Shane Robinson (shane@papakowhai.school.nz). Challenge them with “hard” Maths questions around the dinner table or when you in the car. Remember to ask them, “How did you work that out?” and get them to explain their thinking. My own three kids loved answering challenging questions and it also kept them quiet for 2 mins in the car while they were working it out! Now my daughter Hannah is solving linear equations for NCEA level 1. I don’t have to think up questions like 40 x 13 anymore.

If Maths is a subject that your child finds hard and they are not particularly enjoying, then I believe the most important thing you can do is to affirm that they can do it and continue to have high expectations for them in Maths. This is true especially for our girls. Comments like, “I was never any good at maths ask your father” are not helpful. Try practising basic facts regularly and focus on successes. Focus on how many questions they can do and keep a record. It is great to be able to look back and say, “I used to be able to do 13 questions in 2 minutes and now I can do 20”. Focus on reading, writing and saying numbers. For Year 1 and 2’s this might be numbers to 100, Year 3 and 4’s numbers to 1000, and Year 5 and above numbers to 1,000,000 and beyond.  Looking at place value is also really important. It is important to know that in the number 90 there are nine tens and 90 ones. In the number 430 there are 43 tens altogether. I would also encourage you to put Maths questions in a context like cooking, woodwork, sewing or shopping. Using the language of Maths is really important.

A fun place to start is the Maths week website www.mathsweek.org.nz . There are daily challenges and games. You can sign up as a student, and parents can sign up too. You don’t need to sign up to play the games.

If you have any comments about the way we teach Maths at school that you would like to pass on, you can write them on my blog or email me, mark@papakowhai.school.nz .

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Dear Parents/Caregivers

Things are hotting up for the ‘Amazing Race’ in September. It is time to pre-order your tickets for this show-stopping spectacular!

Wednesday                       26 September 2012         6.30 p.m.
Thursday                             27 September 2012         Matinee      12.30 p.m.
Thursday                             27 September 2012         6.30 p.m.


$15.00   for Evening Performances – All ages

$10.00   for the Matinee – Children under 5 free

To guarantee seats - you need to pre-order your tickets by August 31st. We cannot guarantee seats will be available after this date. There are 400 seats available for each performance and we have over 220 families at the school, so we need to set a limit of four tickets per family for the evening performances.  i.e. four tickets in total over the two nights. There is no limit for the matinee. Children under 5 free for the matinee only

After August 31st you can purchase unlimited numbers of tickets for the evening performances from the Office. Admission on the night will be by ticket only. There will be no door sales.

Please find the order form on the back of the weekly newsletter and send money in a clearly marked envelope to the Office. Please keep other school payments separate.

The ticket price covers the cost of bussing children to the venue during practice week, (more information coming soon about how this works if this is your first time), venue hire, costumes, props, sound and lighting, extra staffing costs incurred writing and staging the production and performance licencing. These costs are in excess of $10,000.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

BOT Official Information Request

Dear Parents/Caregivers

Papakowhai School recently received a request from a reporter at the Dominion Post. He asked for all National Standards data the school provided to the Ministry of Education. The Board of Trustees sent him a copy of the relevant parts of the annual report. This information does not identify individual children.

This is what we told him about the data:
You have only requested data relating to performance as measured against National Standards. There are a number of matters you should be aware of, as in our view publication of this data in isolation could be misleading.
This data has not been moderated or audited, and as such inclusion of any data provided by primary schools may not be accurate or reliable when compared in a league table.

National Standards are only one of a number of ‘standards’ used by teachers to assess the progress of children. Publication of National Standards data alone may therefore be misleading.

There remains debate about whether the National Standards are appropriately set for all age levels. Publication of the raw data may therefore be unreliable.

National Standards are a measure for only part of the school curriculum. Any publication of the data should be seen in the context of the wide-ranging education provided in primary schools, and the additional information available to the community to assess how well children and schools are achieving in all areas.

Papakowhai School fully supports accountability and transparency. For us, reporting on how well children are progressing in terms of National Standards is a small part of what we do. If you want to use National Standards data, you should be aware that publication of the data alone may be inaccurate and/or misleading.

To assist you to present an accurate picture of how well schools are preparing children for the next step in their education, we suggest you look at the most recent ERO report (here is a link to ours http://www.ero.govt.nz/Early-Childhood-School-Reports/School-Reports/Papakowhai-School-21-03-2011  ).

Better still, come and visit.

If you have any questions about National Standards or the request for information, please feel free to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Steve Messenger