Term 4 Week 10 – final newsletter

Final Newsletter


  • Year Six Day in the trees
  • Thank you to Miss Downey who leaves us – her legacy
  • Out of Zone numbers – let your friends know we have spaces for 2021
  • After School Care 2021 – Cherry thank you
  • After School Carer position for 2021
  • Strategic Plan Goals
  • Reflection and best wishes
  • End of year organisation

11 December 2020

Well, what a busy, interesting, challenging year it has been!

Year Six Day in the trees

What gives us the greatest pleasure here at school is seeing children thrive and grow.  Today I had the pleasure of getting out of my office and spending the day climbing in the tree tops at Adventure Forest, with the Year 6 students who are leaving us at the end of this year.  As a staff here we get to see most of the children come through the gate as a five-year-old.   Each student is unique in personality and learning needs.  The journey and growth of this group has been unique and special.  Each student has their own story, journey, challenges and successes.  I am proud of this group and what they have achieved personally and as a group.  We wish them all the best for 2021.

Thank you to Miss Downey who leaves us – her legacy

Thank you, to Miss Renee Downey for putting the icing on the cake for these students in their final years at Otaika Valley School.  Miss Downey is also moving on for more educational challenges at a new school.  She has made a massive contribution to Otaika Valley School, as the lead teacher for Mantle of the Expert and Dramatic Inquiry, which is how we approach learning and curriculum in the middle and senior school in particular.  Renee has just asked me to witness the signing of a document for the establishment of a Trust that will be focusing on Mantle of the Expert to further develop these approaches in NZ education.  She is one of four founding trustees.   I am very proud of you Renee, and just saying I was the one who gave you the push in this direction.  So, we will be seeing more of Renee as a staff and school in the future through our commitment to this type of curriculum.

On behalf of all of the students who have been experimented on with Mantle of the Expert over previous years, I thank you on their behalf and their parents.  As principal, it has been satisfying watching the pleasure children have got from learning made real, fun, authentic and for a purpose.  Even, if at times a stranger looking through the windows might think you were all a bit strange, or should I say unique.

All the best Miss Downey from all of us.

We know you will be checking up on our team of teachers here who are now skilled Mantle of the Expert teachers because of your tireless efforts.  Many children will benefit from these approaches at Otaika Valley School for years to come.

Out of Zone numbers – let your friends know we have spaces for 2021

Last night the Board of Trustees approved the out of zone numbers for our second enrolment period in February 2021.

As principal at Otaika Valley School for ten years now, I have learnt that the optimal student numbers for our school is at least 155 students before mid-year.  If we achieve these numbers it calculates into dollars to run our school budgets and a staffing allocation to employ seven full time teachers.  At this stage we are slightly down on numbers to achieve this.  Therefore, if you know anyone who is moving to Whangarei or have changed circumstances, ask them to email me during the holidays at principal@otaika.school.nz to discuss the process.

At the beginning of February 2021 we will be advertising for…

  • 3 out of zone students at Y6, Y5, Y4, Y2 level
  • 10 new entrant out of zone students.

By doing this we are allowing more chance of a family of children at different levels to enrol.  The 2021 classes have been organised to cater for these possible numbers, so our class sizes will be at our normal size if all of these places are filled.

After School Care 2021 – Cherry thank you

Cherry has let me know she has enjoyed After School Care, but the hours no longer suit her family needs.  On behalf of the after-school care students, their parents and the Board of Trustees, we thank her for time working with Robyn to look after the many children in their care.  Cherry has offered a safe, kind, calm and caring environment for these children.  We are not saying goodbye as Cherry will be working as a valued Teacher Aide during 2021.

After School Carer position for 2021

If you know someone who is interested in working from 3pm to 5:30pm, five days per week during term time only for 40 weeks of the year, in our after school care programme, then please pass on my email;  principal@otaika.school.nz.  Applicants must be reliable, have their own transport, enjoy children and pass a police vetting process.

Strategic Plan Goals

We definitely didn’t achieve all when intended to this year but have certainly been successful in a number of areas.

Our team are particularly proud of achieving…

  • Strategic Initiative: To strengthen and deliver a school wide Te Reo and Tikanga Maori programme for 2020 and beyond
    • Action – a 2 year plan for all levels of the school completed with our Te Reo contract – this has really lifted teachers skill levels and confidence
  • To improve staff well-being and functioning as a highly successful team
    • Action – exploring initiatives for school wide staff well-being – this would have been one of our biggest challenges this year surviving Covid-19 challenges at school and in our personal lives and catering for the well-being of all children in each class – our team has performed well, looked after each other and developed a much higher understanding of the importance of well-being for self, children and families
    • On a personal note, I have faced many challenges this year as principal with my team of teachers, I have faced personal challenges and used everything I know about well-being management to get myself through to the end of this year. The staff here have certainly got me through over the last few weeks.  I thank them for their support.
    • I believe Otaika Valley School is very well placed to cater for students and staff going into 2021 and the unknown challenges we may all face together.
  • To investigate the use of Seesaw to promote student voice, reflection, school and home connections and goal setting
    • Action – we have got this established and look to lift levels of engagement with everyday learning through 2021

These are just a few things that we have achieved and we look forward to some exciting learning already planned for next year.

Reflection and best wishes

I received the last Ministry Bulletin for School Leaders just the other day.  The beginning few sentences sum up this year at school.

‘Kia ora koutou

 This is the last School Bulletin for 2020 and given there’s been 101 in total, compared to 19 last year and 18 the year before, I’m sure it’s of some relief to us all.’

Hmmmm.  I certainly have some thoughts about that, but will not put them to paper in this newsletter.  What I will say is these bulletins have at times been up to 5000 words long and required immense amounts of time and energy to implement extra policy, safety or communication with a range of stakeholders.

Everyone has lived this environment this year in their own lives and work in some way and to varying degrees.  Well done everyone.  All the best for the summer session.  Stay safe, happy and we look forward to seeing you back next year.  To those who leave us and move on, good luck on your next adventures.

We will see everyone else back on Wednesday 3rd of February 2021 – for more 2021 dates please go to the calendar on our website https://www.otaika.school.nz/

I would like to thank the Board of Trustees for their support of the students, staff and community within their role of governance this year.

A thank you to Rhonda and Sam who have done our 2020 management release in Room 1 and 6 this year.  They have been regular staff members this year and the staff and children appreciate their hard work, caring natures and the quality learning they have provided.

End of year organisation

  • Monday 14th December
    • Last school assembly
    • Student reports, next year class lists home
    • 5:30pm to 6:30pm End of Year Picnic – students have been practising a few songs
  • Tuesday 15th December
    • Major move day – teachers moving classes
  • Wednesday 16th December
    • Last day
    • Meet next year’s teacher with next year’s classmates
    • 3pm finish


Kind regards,





By |2020-12-11T12:11:50+00:0011th December 2020|Newsletters, Updates - Email, Updates - Home Page|Comments Off on Term 4 Week 10 – final newsletter

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