23 November 2021
Kia ora koutou to our parent/caregivers,
This year has been one out of the box for everyone and is the most difficult I have experienced in 11 years of being principal. Today’s newsletter will endeavour to inform parents about 2022 at Otaika Valley School, as much as I am able to at this point in time, to provide more certainty during uncertain times.
- 2022 class teacher organisation & rational
- Impacts on school in NZ – guidance from the secretary of education – Board of Trustees decisions
- School reporting
- Strategic planning
- Annual plan
- Student reports
2022 class teacher organisation & rational
Room 7 – Y5/6 – Miss Anna Keogh
Room 6 – Y4/5 – Mrs Heidi Nieddu
Room 5 – Y3/4 – Pending confirmation – maternity position 1 year
Room 4 – Y2/3 – Ms Hayley Alchin
Room 3 – Y1/2 – Mrs Courtney de Boer
Room 2 – new entrant roll growth – roll dependent start
Room 1 – NE – Ms Maggie McClune
Rational for class changes
Maggie McClune has been the junior leader, special education co-ordinator (SENCO) and new entrant teacher at Otaika Valley School for many years. As principal I rate her experience, knowledge and professionalism highly, and have witnessed many students benefiting from her teaching skills. Recently Maggie has strategically mentored other teachers to develop their knowledge and skills. Miss Keogh has taken over the SENCO role and gained valuable experience in the new entrants. Next year, Maggie is stepping sideways to allow Mrs de Boer to take on the junior leader role. Courtney has worked with Maggie at this level previously, trained as a reading recovery teacher and this year being our (Within School Teacher), leading ‘Write that Esssay’ and ‘Cultural Competency – Te Reo.’ She has done exceptionally well this year leading.
Miss Anna Keogh will be teaching the Y5/6 class during Mrs Cowan’s one year maternity leave. Miss Keogh has taught for a number of years at Y7/8 level and has a solid understanding of senior student teaching and learning. This will give our Y6’s a good base for heading off to intermediate in 2023.
Sandra Hansen is our new LSC (Learning Support Co-ordinator). She works 2 days at Otaika Valley and 3 days at Morningside School each week. Sandra has turned out to be a real find, we have already benefitted from her experience working with students learning needs. For 2021 she will also be working as our facilitator for Better Start Literacy.
Room 5 is the maternity leave position. The teacher for this position is not confirmed at this time.
For 2021, Room 3 has Miss Natalie Lynch relief teaching until further notice, as Miss Dickens is on leave.
As principal I strongly believe in developing teachers knowledge, skills and leadership skills. A number of staff have had the opportunity to lead initiatives across the years. One of these may be of interest to our parent community. Renee Downey a recent teacher of Otaika Valley School led Mantle of the Expert within our school, helped grow teacher knowledge of these approaches so that they are sustained within our school today and is a current trustee on the Mantle of the Expert Trust. To those who know Miss Downey, you will be please to know she has recently been promoted as an Assistant Principal at a very large primary school in Hamilton. The staff wish her the best and hope she survives teaching new entrants. She will be leading 6 to 7 classes. Well done Miss Downey, we are proud of you.
Impacts on school in NZ – guidance from the secretary of education – Board of Trustees decisions
- School reporting
- Strategic planning
- Annual plan
- Student end of year reports
Recently the Secretary of Education has provided guidance to boards/principals about planning and reporting due to the significant disruption to schools. The Ministry of Education has relaxed dates for planning and reporting requirements for schools and planning for next year and beyond. Otaika Valley Board of Trustees has discussed this advice and gone with this recommendation.
We were due to review our 3-year strategic plan with staff/board/community this year. Taking the above advice the Board have decided to push this into next year. We will now focus on the annual plan for 2022, which we have plenty of existing and new things to focus on. One of these is ‘Write that Essay’ professional development (led by Mrs de Boer), that staff and children have really enjoyed. Anecdotal evidence from staff, our professional development provider and myself, shows really positive outcomes for student writers. Staff have loved the enhancement to their teaching practise. We will continue embedding this practice in 2022, with some continued assistance from ‘Write that Essay’ experts and schools within our community of learning.
The other key focus for 2022 is ‘Better Start Literacy Approach.’ This is a Ministry Funded approach that Courtney de Boer and Maggie McClune will be participating in, alongside Canterbury University. Sandra Hanson our new LSC (Learning Support Co-ordinator) is the facilitator for our school, which means we will be able to have more flexibility sharing these approaches across other junior rooms and with older students requiring extra support. We will share this learning at staff meetings throughout the year so that all staff benefit from this learning in some way.
Evidence-based literacy teaching
The Better Start Literacy Approach, is an integrated classroom literacy approach for Year 0/1 classrooms to support children’s early reading, writing and oral language success. It incorporates vocabulary development using quality children’s story books, structured teaching of critical phonological awareness skills and letter-sound knowledge through fun, game-based activities, activities making explicit links to the reading and spelling context, and structured small group reading sessions using the new Ready to Read – Phonics Plus early readers series. The Better Start Literacy Approach follows a phonics scope and sequence that is used in the class and small group reading teaching.
2022 will also build on our very pleasing increases in Te Reo within the school.
You can be assured that all of the above professional development will be a full year of work for staff alongside normal teaching and learning requirements.
Student end of year Reports 2021
The Secretary of education has acknowledged the very different learning circumstances across the regions and country and have allowed us to consider different ways of reporting for the end of the year. Our board previously agreed that following the August lockdown we would not do normal assessment and focus on teaching and learning. At our last board meeting we discussed end of year reporting, in light of further Covid19 level disruptions to learning, Agriculture and Flower Show modifications/planning and recent significant challenges around finding relievers for teacher assessment release.
I assured the board that we are committed as a staff to put out our best possible reports under these circumstances. I can assure you staff have been working exceptionally well here at school, supporting each other in many ways to cater for student’s needs. Our staff here have been highly professional during these times and have a strong commitment to student learning, their community and each other. I am incredibly proud of our whole team.