23 August 2007

From the Principal

Dear parents/caregivers

I am very pleased to be back at school after my fellowship.  I had an amazing time away and I had many wonderful experiences.  However, it was so good to arrive back in NZ last Wednesday morning, to catch up with family and friends and to hear lots of kiwi accents.  Each time that I go away, I come back feeling so proud to be a New Zealander and so passionate about what we have here that we need to take care of, especially our clean air and the relative peace and safety of our lives.  

The National College for School Leadership conference that I attended in Birmingham was the best conference that I have ever been to.  The speakers were outstanding and there were many participants there from all around the world.  I visited a number of schools throughout the fellowship and spoke to many talented principals and teachers.  I did not however, visit a school that was as attractive as ours.  Most did not even have a grassed area for the children to play on.  

The leadership course that I attended at Harvard University was interesting.  There were 155 principals on the course from all around the world and it was fascinating speaking with them and learning about the issues in their schools which are very different from ours.  For example, all American schools have full time security guards as the terrorism concern is huge there.  One English principal talked about the terrorism insurance that her school takes out as 10% of their students are Americans.

One of the highlights of the Harvard course was the course dinner held at the university’s Fogg Art Museum.  The collection is worth $90 billion and I have never seen such an amazing collection, anywhere.  After we had eaten, we were invited to view the collection which was such a privilege.

One of the focus areas for my fellowship was looking at the practices of highly effective teachers as we all know how important teachers are.  Recent NZ research (John Hattie, Adrienne Alton-Lee), highlights the quality of the teacher as the most important factor influencing a student’s achievement.  In speaking with principals in England, the USA and Hong Kong about this, there was overwhelming agreement about what constitutes highly effective teaching.

At the beginning of this year, our staff developed a framework of these practices and at our staff conference next term we will be looking at this again within an international context.  Our teachers are committed and talented and always keen to do better.

One of the themes of all of the courses and conferences that I attended was the idea of “betterment”.  Several speakers recommended a book called “Better” by Atul Gawende which I also recommend unreservedly.  The context of the book is the medical profession, but  the ideas explored in it have a strong relevance for education.  It is a great read.

There is a push in the United Kingdom as there is in NZ to strengthen home/school links.  As you know I am particularly interested in developing and sustaining very strong links with all of you.  The more we all work together, the better it is for your children and you are always welcome at school.  We all value the communication that we have with you – both formal and informal and the more we understand each other’s perspectives and goals for your children, the better will be the outcomes.

It is so good to be back. I missed the friendliness of our staff and children and the openness of the kiwi way of communicating.  I have so enjoyed going around all the classrooms and seeing the children and our staff all working very collaboratively together.  Your children are so open and warm and they are all very special.  I continue to feel so privileged.

Chess Success

I am so proud of our chess team.  They competed in the Auckland competition on Tuesday and came 4th.  Thank you to Celia Talbot who once again has coached our players to perform extremely well.  Please see the next section of today’s newsletter for more details.

Cluster Music Festival

I am very much looking forward to tonight’s Papatoetoe Principals’ Association Music Festival to be held for the first time at the Telstra Clear Pacific Centre.  I went along yesterday to have a wee preview at the rehearsal and it is going to be a stunning evening.  Thank you to Nicole Hede and Linda Jefferies for doing a great job coaching the choir.  The children are stunning!  I would like to acknowledge Rex Buckley, the Principal of Kingsford Primary School who has once again organised the festival on behalf of our association.

Best wishes for a fantastic weekend.  I am enjoying waking up in the mornings to the sounds of the birds and it is so good to see the spring flowers and the trees coming into leaf as we all enjoy the early spring and the sunshine that it is bringing.

I look forward very much to catching up with you.  It is so good to be back.

Kind regards
Marilyn Gwilliam

General Notices

Welcome to our New Students: Papatoetoe Central School welcomes the following new students to our school – Selina Longani, Lisa Aujla,  Fabressa Iqram, Liam Supho and Diana Lim.

Assembly Day:  On Friday, 24 August assembly will be run by Room 27.  As always you are most welcome to attend but please make sure that you are seated by 1.15pm.  The Chess certificates and medals will be presented at this assembly.

Class visits to St Christopher's Residential Home:  This Monday, 27 August (weather permitting) at 1.30pm, Room 27 will be visiting St Christopher's Hospital.

Out of Zone Ballot:  The Board has decided to conduct a ballot for out of zone new entrant, Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4 students due to start in 2008. The ballot will be conducted on Tuesday 18 September 2007.  Please note that priority is given to siblings of students already attending our school.  This is not an automatic right and you must apply on the appropriate form which will be available at the school office from Monday 13 August 2007.  Please ensure that you have your application in on time.  Applications close on Friday, 7 September 2007.

Daffodil Day:  We will be raising money for the Cancer Society on Friday, 31 August. Children who bring in a gold coin may come in mufti. $2.00 will buy a daffodil and $1.00 will buy a tattoo. Please help us support this very worthy charity.

Cake walk is all go - Year 6 Fundraising:  Thank you for your support in our second week selling tickets. Please keep bringing in your money. 1 ticket is 20c and 3 tickets gets 50c. The year 6's have been busy getting ideas about what to cakes to make for week 9 Friday.

Auckland Regional Chess Competition: The members of our PCS Southern Zone chess winning team competed in the Auckland Regional Chess final yesterday at the Auckland Chess Centre. The boys played the four schools who won the Central, Eastern, Northern and Western finals. This was always going to be a huge step up for the boys, playing the best in Auckland. The team consisting of Ben Liu, Isaiah Zarate-Rapana, Liam Foster and Denzel Filipo finished a creditable 4th. The whole team were totally focused through out the day. They were humble winners and I was proud of the way they handled defeat. It was a great learning experience for these players and will help to improve their chess in the long term. Well done, team!
Chess Classes:  We are looking into the possibility of running chess coaching classes next term before school on a user pays bases (much as the after school classes). We would like to gauge the level of interest before proceeding any further. If you would be interested in these classes for your child/children, please contact me on 2787557 ext 756, or you can leave a message with Raewyn in the school office.
Papatoetoe Chess Club:  The Papatoetoe Chess Club run classes/coaching for juniors on a Wednesday night from 6.30 till 7.30 at the Papatoetoe RSA Bowling Club, Cambridge Tce, Papatoetoe. You can either just turn up or email John at: brabham@xtra.co.nz for more information.

Pantyhose for production:  We need clean pantyhose for making production costumes.  If you have any new or used pantyhose at home that you no longer want could you please send them to room 11 or 27.  Thank you.  

Road Safety Fact:  When waiting to cross the road we should stand one or two steps behind the kerb and cross when it is clear both ways.

Spellathon:  We started on our annual Spellathon this week and the students will be bringing home their spelling lists and their sponsorship forms very soon if they haven’t already done so.  This is an intensive focus on spelling over and above our usual spelling programmes.  The emphasis is on improving the spelling performance of each student.  With our new entrants the Spellathon is usually linked to letter recognition.  All students are required to participate in the extra spelling work.  

Our past Spellathons have been a very good source of raising additional funds that all of our students can benefit from.  We had fantastic results from our Spellathon last year to the tune of $6,000 that we used to purchase playground equipment for every classroom.  The funds we raise from this Spellathon are going to be used for our laptops in classrooms project - COWS (computers on wheels) - designed to get sets of laptops into classrooms.  Any support you can provide will be of real assistance to all of our students.  Please try to assist by gathering as many sponsors as possible.  All sponsorship forms will need to be signed off and/or receipted whether or not money has been collected from sponsors.  Thank you in anticipation of your ongoing support of our students through our Spellathon.

PTA News

Family Photos:  A reminder to pay off any photos we may still be holding from the family portraits.

Printer Cartridges:  Have you been sending your printer cartridges in to school for recycling? You may send in any printer cartridge - some we get a small refund for and the others will still be disposed of in the most environmentally way.
Do you have any old games or puzzles? If you have, we would love to have them at school for rainy days. The PTA will check them and hand them over to the school. Thanks in advance.

Next PTA meeting is Monday the 27th at 7pm. We would like to see some new faces.
Rachel Hagglund PTA