Students from Christchurch will be scattered throughout the country

Western Bay principals are being urged to open their doors to the Christchurch students coming to the area to escape the aftermath of last Tuesday's earthquake.

It would appear that students from Christchurch will be scattered throughout the country this coming week as they disperse to family and friends.
Rumour has it that MathsBuddies is offering to enrol all Chch students from Year 4-13 free from the remainder of this term. The hope is that through its online tutorials and activities, set by their original teachers, will mean little ground in their learning will be lost.  Find out more...

Further information is available on accepting students from the earthquake zone.

Eighteen state schools, 11 state-integrated schools and five independent schools reported significant damage.
But some schools in Christchurch are likely to open shortly. Tolley said those with minor damage could reopen this week, if school infrastructure, road access and staff were in place.

We wish all students, their parents and their teachers well for the weeks ahead.

Thanks Paul @heugumper for the link.

English is not really ‘all that’

One school that has welcomed the option of learning Mandarin is Otonga Rd Primary School. 

There are only a few languages in the world that feature so highly for the future and English is not really ‘all that’.
Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and English are all key languages for the future. It is good to see that language learning is beginning to feature more prominently in Primary schools but as the old adage goes ‘you use it or lose it’.
So in light of that, there is mounting pressure on Intermediate and Secondary schools to continue the language learning options that are first presented to primary students.
Teachers will also be put under the spotlight. Primary school teachers with language skills in the three ‘foreign’ languages mentioned earlier will be in something of high demand. Secondary school teachers may feel the pressure in the coming years as increasingly more students will present in their classes with higher abilities in international languages. 
But what languages are offered in the schools that you know?

Parents still control the future

Teachers can often identify (very early- late elementary school) students who will find legal trouble, sex issues, and early, unplanned pregnancy later in life.
So it’s finally acknowledged what we’ve all known for years. A kids future can be defined by the time they get to preschool.  So this behaviour pattern is not really taught at school but suffered. The core behaviour habits have already been defined really too early for teachers to be solely responsible.
Parents attitude, ability, and genes play a much larger role in defining the adult their kids will become.
Who was it that said: Show the child at 7 and I’ll show you the man?

Useful links:
20 Tips for Parents from Preschool Teachers
The parenting place
Parents as first teachers
Reading material from Fishpond

PPTA: Applaud or *tusk now

The PPTA has said it will keep up its fight for improved conditions and higher pay, and that more strikes are likely.
It appears that the PPTA is last to ‘fall’. I’m sure that the union is feeling the warming flow of mana knowing that they are the ‘last one standing’.
In such economic times though, there must be a thin line unions walk between looking like their standing up for members and looking way too greedy.
Secondary teachers must be applauding their union for the backbone it is showing but public perception is the key here and when extra-curricular activities and educational opportunities for young people are cancelled then *tusks from parents ripple through the wider community.
Enough is enough though. Let’s refocus now on educating our young people, enriching lives and brightening the future of New Zealand through top quality educational expertise.

Special Needs: Shuffling money for the best result

First diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as an adult, Christchurch's CAROLINE HEARST believes everyone should be aware of the importance of acknowledging the condition.
There are such a wide variety of ‘special needs’ that sometimes it can be a little too much for any SENCO. But reality bites when there is not nearly enough funding to go around.
We, as teachers, become very good at picking up that there is something ‘amiss’ with a particular student in our class. We may not know the name for it and we certainly don’t have the qualifications to diagnose it but we are prepared to work with what we have and meet their needs as best we can.
Where a school is identified as ‘good or bad’ with their special needs programme often comes down to the quality and commitment of the Special Needs Coordinator. There is a huge raft of funding available to get students the support they need to succeed in today’s classrooms.
Not every student is entitled to one-on-one support, precious few are, but how funding is allocated within the school can go a long way to supporting students at their point of need.
Many primary schools weight the funding to the early primary years, often many classes have not one single teacher but often a Teacher Aide (TA) and other support staff that float between these junior years.
The rationale behind such funding allocation is that provided ‘special needs’ are heavily supported in the early years then the majority of students are ‘caught up’ by the middle and senior years in Primary school and support for additional staff beyond the class teacher is not needed.
Good sound theory that may be but reality is often very different, despite our best intentions let alone issues of transitory kids and supporting  those teachers of Y5/6/7/8 who invariably suffer larger class sizes and arguably a heavier administrative workload.
Within military and business circles two people working closely together achieve far more than double their efforts.
This would translate to the classroom. If every teacher had their own TA their ability to support all the students would reach far beyond what would be achieved with half the students in a class with a single teacher. It is why so many ‘team-teaching’ scenarios work well. Sure the budget can’t stretch to two teachers to a class but an effective Teacher/ TA team could deliver an equally favourable result with student achievement.

Useful links:

Pop Quiz- National Standards

“Since the Standards were launched last year, growing numbers in school communities have said they have no confidence in the Standards and they will do nothing to raise student achievement.”

Does the quote above mean that:

  1. National Standards will do nothing to raise student achievement.
  2. School communities will do nothing to raise student achievement.

20,000 New Zealand teenagers not in education

“There are 20,000 New Zealand teenagers of year 12 or year 13 age not in education or training.”
 “The academy, which requires pupils to attend from 9am till 3pm five days a week, is a way for pupils to pick up NCEA credits while earning a practical tertiary qualification.”
“Wiremu is one of 60 founding pupils from 30 high schools around Wellington at Weltec – and one of 800 around New Zealand. They will be placed in classroom-style groups, through which they will continue with core NCEA credits such as maths and English.”

A couple of point I managed to glean from this article:
  1. I am assuming that the shocking statistic above refers to those teenagers NOT in gainful employ. Otherwise, I guess, we’d all be whooping and cheering for joy. 
  2. I’m wondering if replacing school with ‘school’ is anything like a solution.
Let us consider the evidence from the article:
  • Students will be expected to attend from 9am to 3pm.
  • Students will be expected to attend five days a week.
  • Students will work on NCEA credits.
  • Students will work on Maths and English NCEA.
  • Students will work within classroom-style groups.
Hmmm, sounding suspiciously like school to me.Perhaps it’s the location that’s different. Is ‘class’ in an aircraft hanger? In a mechanics workshop?  Hairdressers salon? Perhaps it’s the tutors that are different? Perhaps they are younger and hipper than the regular high school variety, perhaps they know the funky songs or know the clubbing scene.

Whatever the secret ingredient really is I wish Weltec all the luck in the world.

Tough on Drowning, tough on the causes of drowning

The closure of almost 300 school swimming pools in the past decade has been linked to New Zealand's horror youth drowning rate. 
Making a direct link between school pool closures and the increase instances of drowning is something of an over simplification.
As much as it pains me to point out but I agree with Anne Tolley when she was quoted in the article as saying "Teaching water skills is not a job for schools alone, but for families and communities as well."
As you may know I am a great advocate for parental responsibility.
Everyone, it appears, should step up. I liked Len Brown’s idea about free access to pools and the other funded ideas.
If we don’t raise awareness for the need to learn to swim through some graphically questionable TV AD campaign then it appear that nature will seek out the headlines for us with 27 drownings so far this year.
Surely if that is not going to have parents driving their kids to the local pool nothing will.
We can’t merely say that its sad that it happened but it’ll never happen to my kid.
We can’t merely say that those parents failed in their reponsibilty and ‘I’m a better parent than that'.
We can’t merely wring our hands and say that ‘government’ need to DO SOMETHING.

If we each stepped up and watched over our own kids and taught our own kids water-safety; if we each made sure that our own 2,3...6 kids all learnt to swim competently; then there would be zero drownings in New Zealand.

But accidents do happen... but let’s not kid ourselves that they can all be explained away by that simply mantra.

Related links:

High school not quite cutting edge

High school not quite the cutting edge, 21st Century learner centred place we thought it was.

This blog is not an Agony Aunt column but… I received this email tonight and would appreciate some thoughts about how to address this.


My daughter has started with excitement and nervousness at High School!  13 years old, keen and eager to learn...  2 periods of health over the last 4 days = 5 pages of written RULES copied from an overhead projector.

The learning intention is "become familiar with health class routines." 
Success Criteria - "completed all overheads" - thereafter follows the 5 pages with headlines such as:

Be prepared
Get ready fast
Be quiet

Followed by more paragraphs on what will happen if these basic expectations aren't met.

Not prepared - copy out the lack of equipment essay in your own time from the window in A6 and hand to your teacher at the end of the next lunchtime.  NO equipment will be loaned to students.

Not quiet - copy the talkative behaviour essay in your own time from the window in A6 blah blah blah blah...

As you can imagine this is only part of it!

What is a parent to do?  Where are all those incredible 21st century teachers and learners hiding?

Any words of wisdom on how to approach this in a professional manner would be appreciated.

This sounds disappointing if not downright shocking. I appreciate the ground rules for behavior and expectation are to be established at the beginning of the school year but come on… seriously.What disturbs me more is question that is left hang…

“Are all high schools like this?”

Professionalism not persecution

he principal of a Kapiti Coast primary school is under investigation over teachers' complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.
Whether the allegations are true or not this may give us all a little pause for thought as we must be reminded that to “be a bit silly” as Marsden states is really not professional at all.
Teachers often take critism of their style and performance in the classroom very personally. The reason being that so much of teaching is about personailiy, relating others and sharing with students enough of oneself to develop a respect and a relationship which encourages learning and academic growth. But there is a fine line between allowing your personality out within a school environment and ensuring a level of professionalism is maintained. 
We as teachers all hold a great responsibility. How and what we share with students is a balancing act we have to do - so too with staff within the staffroom it would appear.

All your friends could be colleagues but not all colleagues are your friends. 

Tips for healthy start for the 'back-to-school' kids

Asthma is the leading reason for children and young people being hospitalised in Aotearoa and about half a million school days are lost to asthma each year.
As parents it is essential that we take a look at the health of our children as they head back to school. The article linked above refers to the problem for asthma sufferers but there are more general health concerns we need to look out for too.
Headlice will no doubt sweep the nation once more and a careful look through you kids hair -wonderfully combed, at the beginning of the day, and amazingly self knotted, at the end- would help enormously. Though there are no major health issues -as opposed to body lice- they are not even a sign of poor health or hygiene, though contrary to popular belief.

True food allergies are not as common as most people believe and only affect about 2% of children  however keep an eye out for wheezing and difficulty breathing, itchy skin rashes, including hives, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and swelling around the mouth and throat. Non of those things are good and it might be worth getting it checked out by a health professional- just avoiding the suspected case may not be the smartest idea in the long-run.

There are few reminders for starting school too:

  • Is your child up-to-date on immunizations?
  • Have you filled the health information and emergency contact forms for the school?
  • Does your child need medications at school or for emergencies? This is particularly important for kids with asthma, food allergies, and diabetes.

Female teachers attire is called into question...

Female teachers attire is called into question... just like last year, and the one before that and the one... you get the idea.

As the Ad goes “It’s good to be a guy”.
There is not much thought that goes into what a male teacher should wear. In everyone’s head they are either wearing a tracksuit or semi-smart pants and a ‘smart/casual’ shirt. Somehow this covers a range of appropriate attire for school teaching.

Ladies on the other hand are once again faced with the great debate about what is classified as ‘appropriate’.
Neckline? Length of top? Length of skirt? Pants or skirts? Jeans? Its a minefield. Who gets to decide. Someone will always be ‘wrong’.
So what are staff doing to combat this? Where is written down, that definition of appropriate dress.

What is the 21st Century, PC, can’t offend, can’t be too liberal, too conservative, middle way?

"Urgent measures" needed to deal with discrimination against children

The "staggering" rates of child abuse and poverty in New Zealand have been condemned in a United Nations report that calls for the Government to better recognise children's rights.

The provision ‘state’ makes for children, even Pacific and Maori, IS significant. I feel we have talked about this before. Parental responsibility is the key here. There are centres and provision for children within each community, parents need to ‘go ask’ and ‘go look’.

Perhaps that should be the slogan for the next Ad campaign ‘GO ASK, GO LOOK’

There were two comments under the article that struck a chord with me. With no way of getting in touch with the commentators I simply reference the article they are associated with and the name they left.

Brazil's "Statue for the Rights of the Child and Adolescent" law was based on this woolly line of international PC reasoning, and sets the age of criminal responsibility at 18. The results of this brilliant piece of legislation were predictable and immediate - as teenagers became more and more involved in the gangs and serious criminal activities, the murder of minors in Rio de Janeiro state more than doubled in the five years after the 1990 introduction of the law compared to the five years before. Now the megacities such as Rio and São Paulo are literally being terrorised by youngsters to whom the law affords a privileged status - such as the 14 year old boy who was recently arrested in São Paulo for car theft - for the 16th time (his parents begged the state to intervene when he was aged eleven, after his ninth offence, but the law would not allow it). Paul Cull#16

In Mexico, they decided that the best way to move people out of lower groups was education. So they made part of the benefit dependent on your child achieving at least 85% attendence at school for the year. As well as this, mothers got more cash for going to pre-natal and post-natal doctors visits.
Both of these have led to an increase in health and education amongst the poor in Mexico. So why not do it here? Lee   #13
What do you think the answer to solving the child provety issue is?

5 places to start when trying to tackle the drug problem in schools

A former drug enforcement officer says the P epidemic was brought on by the New Zealand police force's "she'll be right" mentality.

Its all well and good wringing our hands and saying ‘if only..’ but the reality is that there is a drug problem in this country and there is no point in saying that it is someone else fault or someone else’s responsibility.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
    Edmund Burke
So here are five places for us to look to begin dealing positively in our sphere of influence:

  • Sign up for DARE to Support your Kids. This programme is designed to help you, as parents, support your Kids.  Check with your local DARE Society for when the next programme is in your area.
  • FADE’s Parents and Caregivers. This online community has been developed to support you help answer some of the questions you have related to alcohol and drug education.
  • MethCon Group can provide presentations to community and family groups which give a broad overview of the problem of methamphetamine as it relates to individuals, wider society and how as communities working together we can make a difference.
  • The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free.
  • Drug Education.Net  This site was created to provide drug information for both legal and illegal drugs. Each drug page has a drug description, photo, and side effects.

Cyber Safety in school

Everyone needs to take responsibility for cybersafety of children. Parents, teachers, everyone. 

There is a responsibility a Board of Trustees has to “maintain a safe physical and emotional environment, a responsibility to consult with the community.” This includes the cybersafety of staff, students and parents on the school grounds.

Sex Education: People are dumb

Health Ministry northern regional manager Bruce Adin said health education, including sex education, was an important part of the New Zealand curriculum.
Students are reaching puberty earlier and earlier. Whether diet, lifestyle, or some immeasurable ‘x-factor’ is the cause the issue remains that kids need to be taught about the changes they face in the coming years.

One of the main problems here is that puberty hits different kids at different ages and blanket sex education in Year 5 and 6 may not be the answer.
It is not the best solution, it is the solution a society and government can come up with when the onus is upon the ‘state’ to educate kids about such things.
Gone are the days when mum or dad, or even nanna and pop, have ‘that conversation’ when their kids asks 'the question'.
Where the Grandad in the story might be right is that his grand-daughter may not have asked ‘the question’ for another year or two had the topic not been raised. Which may or may not be the case. But the reality is that kids in her school are probably a lot closer to needing to know even if she is not. What is a Ministry, a school, to do?
This is just another case of society left holding the responsibility that a parent should have. SO what’s the big deal? Parents are smart. They can handle it.

Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
A person is smart. People are dumb…

Where to begin with thinking about e-portfolios

E-portfolios have been bandied around for years amongst educators. Some schools are doing it well some, not so much.
As the academic year begins Ewan McIntosh shares in his ‘EdTalk’ about the import role e-portfolios have and the potential for expanding learning many are missing out on.

There are many platforms available for e-portfolios. Let us know what works, or doesn’t, at your school by leaving a comment.

John Wooden: successful teaching

This TED Talk by the late, great John Wooden is thought provoking and inspirational for any teacher, anytime, especially at this beginning of a new school year.

John Wooden's definition of success:
'Peace of mind attained only though self-satifaction in knowing you made the effort to the best of which you are capable.'
John Wooden's thoughts on  character and reputation:
 Reputation is what you are percieved to be your character is what you really are.
John Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010)

Child health services to be passed to schools

Word on the street has it that schools will become the focal point for child health care too. And when I say ‘word on the street’ I refer to an article on yesterday’s Native Affairs programme on Maori television that there doesn’t seem to have a direct line of reference too.
It appears to me that more and more services are being run through schools and its not right. Imagine if you will the constant interuptions teachers and students face as other professionals come in and pass notes requesting ‘Rawiri go see the dental nurse’ or ‘Alice visit the doctor’ or ‘ Uma is needed by  who knows what else’.  The primary job of school is education. This is being eroded from the inside with ever more broadening mandates put upon schools and their staff.
I appreciate schools are a focal point for community and it is the only place kids HAVE to be and therefore their presence is guaranteed. But to suggest that all child services be run through school is simply making the job of parenting TOO easy.  Again I say, parenting is a gift and a responsibility one that is the parents alone.
Parents have, or rather should have, the responsiblitiy of raising their children how they see fit.
Placing all child services into school is not empowering parents. Surely a better way is out there.