Thursday, December 11, 2008

Season's Greetings

I would like to wish the school community a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, restful holiday until we start again in 2009 on January 28 (course confirmation day). Our office will be open until December 19 and then reopen from January 12, 2009. Enjoy the rest!

Kind regards - Warren

New names for areas of the school

I am keen to continue renaming various areas of the school after former pupils, staff or principals who are a distinguished reminder of our past. This consultation document is going to the school community for feedback.

Some areas have existing names (or have had in the past):
The Trimble library
Cleland - music, languages
Te Amorangi – Te reo
Shakespeare Suite – drama
William Pickering Lab (B1)
Kathleen Curtis Lab (B2)
Maurice Wilkins Lab (B3)

Some previous Principals and Board Chairs have been honoured via House names: Trimble, Amess, McAllister, Tyrer

These are the areas that need new names. Please consider the following suggestions for names and feel free to add any others that you consider worthy.

Area (subjects) suggestions
A (technology) Rawlinson (13 years HOD tech)
B (English, social sciences, science labs) Bowler (old boy, French, 4 decades); Nixon (science, long standing DP); Robinson (22 years, HOD English); Johnson (40 years service, science); Martin (25 years service)
C (mathematics, computing) Caldwell (maths, 25 years plus service)
T (supported learning, health) Knight (30 years service, senior mistress)
Syme (scholar)

Administration White (former Principal); Chadwick (former Principal)
Hall Habershon Hall (former Principal)
Stadium Smith (All Black 1967, 1969, 1970); Urbahn (All Black 1959-60); Watts (All Black 1979-80); Allen (All Black )
R1 (special needs) (From above names)
B4 (science lab) ?

Junior prize-giving 5/12/08

E te atua kaha rawa
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koe
Nga mate, haere, haere, haere atu ra
Te maunga tapu o Taranaki
Mihi mai, karanga mai
Nga manuhiri, nau mai, haere mai
Ki tenei kura tua-rua o Whakaahurangi
Ki te whanau whanui o Whakaahurangi
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koutou ma
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

A very warm greeting to you all – The extended family of Stratford High School. My congratulations to all of the worthy recipients of certificates and prizes. You’ve worked with purpose and been rewarded. Well done!

During this term the staff and school reviews the year and looks forward to the next. This morning I’d like to pick one aspect of our busy year and then mention our two focus points for 2009.

Last year at this time I spoke to the then year 9s and 10s about how rapidly the world was changing, most notably in terms of communications technology. You may remember I mentioned that third generation fiber optics carry 10 trillion bits per second down a single strand of fiber which enables 150 million simultaneous phone calls every second.

I liken the progress in technology to the journey made by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars film 'The Phantom Menace'. They are travelling in Jar Jar Binks’ underwater craft when they are attacked by a large underwater beast which is eaten by an even larger underwater beast which is eaten by an even larger beast and so on. Qui-Gon’s comment that, “there’s always a bigger fish” is relevant to technology – there’s always a newer better faster smaller piece of tech just around the bend.

Never-the-less, this year some of the staff at SHS decided to become more involved in cyberspace. A couple of events prompted me personally to become a blogger. One was a professional development day at NPBHS organised by our E principal Rachel Roberts. During that day I attended a session on Web 2.0 features like weblogging and wikis run by some staff from KatiKati College. The web 2.0 presentation opened my eyes to a number of possibilities. Students could access their teachers from school or home for explanations and question things that had come up from class, they could get extension exercises and links to worthwhile sites. Best of all the students could comment or post their own questions to the teacher.

Unfortunately the NPBHS system could not handle the demands of the day and I could not actually begin my blogging career immediately. Bill McGeoch was another staff member who attended that day and he subsequently led a staff professional development session to our staff. During his presentation he showed us how easy it was to start a blog, how he had added some video from youtube, and again how interactive the process could be. But above all – how easy it was to do. No using complicated fourmulas – web 2.0 technology does it all for you.

Since then other staff have also become dedicated bloggers - Mrs Griessel, the ICT lead teacher, has created her blog – beon2it; Miss Lithgow has established a blog for support staff and admin news, and then there’s me. I began three different blogs, one for my English class, one as Principal, and a personal one for family and friends. To date the Principal site alone has had over 300 visits since I began in August. However for me the most valuable use has been for my class of Year 13 English students. In their lead up to the external exams I was able to suggest some excellent sites to study from, links to NZQA past papers and various helpful hints.

A visit to our reorganised website will give the community links to the blogs I’ve mentioned. I would encourage the community to keep our website bookmarked. It contains daily information about the school, our procedures and events as well as those links and it looks great thanks to one of our AV technicians,Sam Ballantyne.

I’m sure this focus on technology to assist our students with their learning will only increase in 2009. Our main focus points next year will continue to be on two major areas. The new curriculum and Te Maunga Tuu.

If they are not already the years 9 and 10 in front of me will need to become adaptable, quick learners who can embrace new technologies and use their imagination. The key competencies of the new curriculum have this understanding at their heart. The KCs place importance on personal self management which our poutama system also encourages; relating to others; participating and contributing; thinking skills; and using language, symbols and texts. The PPTA and ministry have organised a number of Teacher release days to support us in our adjustments next year.

Also on our agenda for 2009 is Te Maunga Tuu which loosely translated means the uprising of the mountain. This is the name given to an improvement initiative SHS is part of with 6 other Taranaki secondary schools. Our aim being to improve achievement for our Maori students specifically at NCEA level 1. The gap between Maori and non-Maori achievement here is definite and although we have made a lot of progress to close that gap over the last three years – it is still very much there. Te Maunga Tuu therefore, is a professional development project targeting Maori achievement that all seven schools are very keen to start in 2009.

But that’s next year. For today let us bask in the many successes of our Y9 and Y10 students in 2007.

These successes must never be taken for granted. Many generous people are behind each one of them – whether they be school events like house events, a nationally ranked performance in sport or an individual 100% effort at a classroom task.

Staff, students and parents are to be congratulated on an excellent year.

As 2008 draws to a close I would like to end with a wish for everyone to experience peace and joy during the coming Christmas holiday.

Thank you and may the force be with you, always!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teen Parent Unit and Early Childhood Education

A few weeks ago I went to Masterton's Makoura College to see Wairarapa's Teen Parent Unit (TPU) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) centre with Raewyn Rooney (BOT member) and Tracey Burnell (one of our TPU teachers). Malcolm Harding (Headteacher of our TPU) joined us as well.

Our reason for going there was to see a purpose built facility on school grounds, which is, of course, what we will be aiming to complete in 2009. While there I was most impressed with the efficient way the two co-existed thanks to Rae (TPU) and Wendy (ECE), with the facilities that were opened in 2005, and with the purposeful way the girls were going about their studies. The girls we chatted with were very confident, intelligent, mature young women and it was a pleasure to be in their company (just like 'our' girls).

Our plans for uniting our existing facilities on the school site are taking shape thanks to the dedication of Mrs Rooney and Darryn from the Ministry of Education. Like Wairarapa we will be using Signature Homes' modular designs. Our TPU and ECE will both be positioned on the southern side of the sports stadium and we hope to be in these building before term three, 2009. In the meantime enjoy these snaps from our visit.

The first two are the inside of the teen parents' room (from two different directions)
Basically it's one large room with a kitchen and dining area at one end and computer pod at the the opposite end. The girls have their work stations in the middle of the room. It's new looking, brightly decorated and very welcoming.

The ECE pictures show a fantastic outdoor area for the children. A sandpit and fort were the standouts.

A large deck separates the outdoor play area from inside where the children are in over twos and under twos areas.

The two pictures above are of the over twos area. It was a privilege to visit the centre and talk with the staff there. My thanks to them for being so generous with their time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The interweb

With prize-giving over we have four weeks with the junior students while seniors attend their external examinations. For some years now my own children have gone through this process of exam prep and they are nerve jangling times for students (we sometimes forget how nervous they get and how much it means to them to do their best in testing circumstances). My advice? My mother always reverted to 'deep breathing' advice and it does help. Count to three (in your head) during the breath in then count to three during the breath out. It will relax you!

Recently Barry Bachenheimer wrote a very supportive comment on my prize-giving post. This reminded me about his blog that I follow - 'A Plethora of Technology' (it's on my blog list to the left). For fellow educators - I warmly recommend it. Have a look at the discussion on ADD and ICT sometime - it opens up some interesting questions. Also on my bloglist is The Fischbowl blog - again I recommend a look. It's especially useful for teachers of English (like me). The collection of news cuttings on the Democracy 2.0 post is worth a look.

The web sets up a lot of similar contacts and my last little tip is the New Zealand publication - Interface NZ (link is on the left). I always find some excellent little titbit like or the Guardian's 24 hours in pictures. There are some exellent Web 2.0 links there as well as things for teachers to try. I especially like the magazine because it's not pushy, overly technical or has obscure/difficult to locate sites - when you have limited time to devote to web searches that's all handy.

Incidently those are all the aspects of Web 2.0 that make it such a breath of fresh air for me. I remember setting up a website while teaching at Mount Albert Grammar in Auckland in the late 1990s and it took ages. It was really fiddly to do but doing this blog (and setting it up) is a revelation. It couldn't be easier to do. If you haven't stated a blog already try googling 'blogspot'. There are easy to follow instructions there or else try the Interface magazine link that is on their site. Go to it - you'll love it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Senior Prize-giving 13 November 2008

E te atua kaha rawa
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koe
Nga mate, haere, haere, haere atu ra
Te maunga tapu o Taranaki
Mihi mai, karanga mai
Nga manuhiri, nau mai, haere mai
Ki tenei kura tua-rua o Whakaahurangi
Ki te whanau whanui o Whakaahurangi
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koutou ma
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

A very warm greeting to you all – The extended family of Stratford High School.
It is with much pleasure that I present my annual address to the school community at our senior prize-giving.

The early focus this year was on re-establishing our values and vision in the Stratford Way acronym. To refresh your memories:

The S in Stratford stands for Safety (a safe learning environment for all).
T for Team (all moving in the same direction)
R for Respect (for others, for yourself, and for authority)
A for Articulate (use manners – speak and write well)
T for Tradition (we value effort/ excellence/ never give up)
F for Focus (seize the moment)
O for Order (Firm/ Fair and friendly)
R for Restore (make amends – say sorry/ do the right thing)
And finally the Stratford Way is completed by D for Dreams

Having a Dream and following it to its conclusion is a key attribute that I hope all of you can relate to and action throughout your lives. Luckily dreams don’t have to come true by age 20 or 30 or 40 or 50. They can occur long past when you thought they were possible.

You will all no doubt remember the phenomenal feats of Michael Phelps in the Beijing Olympics this year. Phelps won a record 8 gold medals and when asked by a NZ TV crew for his advice to young New Zealanders he said, “Dream big!”

Another famous American -Henry David Thoreau - agrees with him. Thoreau said “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined”.

The SHS slogan ‘Staying local, going far’ has this sentiment at its heart as well. The great thing about all three statements (Dream big, live the life you’ve imagined, go far) is that they are actually all easy to do, they are adaptable and, in the creation stages, they cost nothing . In a year of financial turmoil in the world this is handy thing is it not! As Lyteshar knows dreams do have a cost, however when put into action. But it is a cost that we have to be willing to bare to see them through and I’m not talking about dreams of winning Lotto, each week paying money and trusting in blind chance here.

The dreams I’m alluding to are things like representing your country in sport like Lyteshar Drewery, climbing Mt Everest like Sir Edmund Hilary, touring the world as a dancer like Shanelle Beazely, making it on the world stage like the Flight of the Conchords, being a Y13 leader like James and Maggie, organising Manu Koroero/ Pae Rangitahi in Stratford like whaea Tina, becoming bigger than Elvis like John Lennon, successfully gaining an apprenticehip like Jamie Henderson, or gaining an excellence endorsement in NCEA in the coming external examinations. These are the types of big dreams I’m talking about.

Some of us let great dreams die while others nourish and protect their dreams through bad days, moments of hardship and failure. My plea to you this afternoon, especially the senior students who are saying goodbye to SHS, is to hold on tight to your dreams. Those of a certain age will recall those words from a song by The Electric Light Orchestra. I mention this in passing as I must surely be the first Principal in history, brave enough to quote them in a prize-giving speech.

This afternoon we are celebrating all students at Stratford High School. Some will win cups and certificates but all who come to this school are encouraged to dream big. When you do so you risk failure. Sometimes you don’t succeed and at such times you have to stand firm and find the inner self discipline and resolve to never give up, never surrender. I have a lot of admiration for all of you here today who have stayed in school, and risked something every day. You are the ones willing to take the risk of failure. Those students who give up or who choose not to attend regularly risk nothing. It is easier to do nothing and blame others, than it is to try something and possibly fail.

To the leavers - Be proud of who you are and where you come from. Be proud of who you are and where you are going.

To those who are returning next year. Take up the risks and challenges of success.

As with any end of year prize giving, there are people to thank and farewell. Mrs Buis, Mrs Harris, Mrs Rawlinson will not be returning in 2009. They will be continuing their dreams and doing their tuckshop duty in other schools. Thank you for your much valued contributions to the school and for helping students towards their dreams. My personal thanks to Lesley Harris for patiently helping me with my Year 11 English class. You’re a good egg!

The members of the Parent Teacher Association
and the Board of Trustees give up a lot of time
to attend meetings and functions throughout the year.
I would like to thank each of them, on behalf of the community,
for their dedication and commitment to the school.

Raewyn Rooney, the Chairperson of the Board of trustees decided not to stand as chair this year but remains a much valued Board member. We cannot let her leave the position without expressing our thanks for her work in that role. Our new Board chair, Pete Theron, has had to juggle commuting to Australia in the second half of the year. His dedication to SHS has remained undimmed throughout. I marvel at his capacity for trans Tasman flights and I value his advice and resolve to continuously improve life at SHS for staff and students.

My thanks to the senior management team - Phil, Maria, and Barbara. I can’t think of any of our meetings this year that haven’t contained your collective wisdom, pragmatism, and an awful lot of laughter. It is a privilege to work with you.

Many generous people are behind each one of our many successes this year and the staff’s on-going commitment and good humour
should never be taken for granted. The staff at this school are amazing in their dedication. They work extremely hard and are constantly looking for better ways of doing things in order to ensure all the students can succeed. Our students are fortunate indeed to come to school each day and be served by such a talented team of professionals. To the support staff and the teaching staff, on behalf of the parents and students – thanks and congratulations on an excellent year.

My special thanks goes to the ladies in my life. My office is surrounded by dedicated and extremely fun people. Thank you Diane for your fantastic support, Thank you Suzie for the quips, jokes, and newspaper cuttings whenever Chelsea fluke a win against Arsenal.

Thank you to my daughters Samantha and Jade and to my wife Jacky. You make many sacrifices on my behalf and share my dreams with me. In the words of the great sports agent Dicky Fox:– "Hey I don’t have all the answers. In life to be honest I’ve failed as much as I’ve succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life and I wish you my kind of success".

As 2008 draws to a close
I would like to end my speech by wishing seniors good luck for the externals
with a Celtic blessing
and with a wish for everyone to experience peace and joy
during the coming Christmas holiday:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your field.
And until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November and student farewells

Tēnā koutou katoa -

We have entered the final stages of our academic year with NCEA external examinations being just around the corner. Senior students and families are directed to my blog which contains advice about studying. All senior students should have a firm idea about what they need to do to achieve their potential from senior reports and the Academic Wall. Teaching staff have spent a lot of time and effort on reporting results from the mock exams in term 3 and I urge students to heed the advice that is presented to them. My best wishes go to all students sitting these external examinations. Kia kaha!

Staff changes: At the end of term three we farewelled Mr Coleman (to St Mary’s on promotion), Miss Whitwell (back to Dunedin) and Mrs Newton (to Australia). We also welcomed back Mrs Gordon from her maternity leave. Mrs Constantin has been made a permanent member of the mathematics department following the vacancy left by Mr Rodgers. We will be making an appointment of Head of English at the end of November following the vacancy left by Mrs O’Neill. Leaving us at the end of the year will be Mrs Harris who will move on promotion to Tauranga Boys’ College for 2009. Recently Mrs Buis indicated her move to teach at Devon Intermediate for 2009 and we welcomed Quentin Smith as our new AV technician.

A reminder about uniform for 2009 – the grace period that operated this year ends in December 2008. That means that all students are required to be in the new uniform for 2009. All uniform items (except shoes/sandels) are available at ‘OFF THE CUFF’ on the Broadway. The PTA will also be offering appropriate second hand and some new items during their sales days in the new year. If in any doubt about the suitability of any uniform item families need to check with the school.

My final thought: I really liked the positive messages that Barack Obama used in his campaign for the United States Presidency. His catch-cry, “Yes we can!” needs to be adopted by all of our students in the externals. Can I achieve, “Yes I can!!”

Nā Warren Purdy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Newsletter for late September

Tēnā koutou katoa -

We have had an excellent term three in sporting arenas; in the many cultural activities; in pastoral care situations such as the Poutama activities, careers and options day and in the classroom. The solid groundwork has been laid for student success in November. It is at this time of the year that we begin to get really focused on external examination success and that is determined largely by student attitude, student focus, and student self-discipline.

The upcoming study break gives our senior students time to prepare study plans, to complete outstanding internal credits, and to look forward to external examination preparation. How students do these things in the next two weeks will largely determine how successful they are in November.

At an assembly earlier in the year I read out a poem by Tom Clark called ‘The Light’:

The tough part
of the ball game
is when you can’t breathe any more

That’s when conditioning takes over
and leads you by the hand – the heart! –
through the tunnel

It’s dark in there and you don’t know the score
but at the other end
you perceive the bucket

We have been engaged in confidence building conditioning all year and this needs to continue for the study break and the remaining four weeks of term 4 (yes – only four weeks before prize-giving week). ‘The bucket’ is the reward and for students it is getting what they deserve in external examinations.

Elsewhere in the newsletter you will find the opportunities for tutorials and extra supervision available to students in the lead up to externals. Please encourage the students to attend to make the most of their conditioning period.

I hope all of the school community can also have a well earned break and come back refreshed for term 4.

My final thought: The focus on dreams (the ‘D’ in Stratford) has also been a constant this year. As Michael Phelps, the outstanding American swimmer, says, “Dream big!”

Nā Warren Purdy

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Exam analysis

The following has been a theme for recent assemblies and is directed at senior students and their families:

For senior students it is crucial that you do what Bill Gates suggests - 'It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.'

That means some work (yes - work) on analysing what you did right (and celebrate the success), and what you got wrong in the recent mock exams. For example - from recent analysis my English class have learnt the benefits of careful question selection and planning their essay. It's so tempting to launch into your ideas but what if you have misinterpreted the question? Take time to plan and think about what the question is asking.

Part of that work requires rewriting the questions you didn't get right and now attempting questions you found too difficult. Just reading over material is not enough. For the lesson to be learnt successfully you will need to get feedback from your teachers and/or family members and/or your peers.

Construction of a study plan from now until the end of the NCEA exams is also crucial for planning your study time(and free time). Aim for a balance and aim to keep to it. You can use an existing calendar in homework diaries to plan out your study time. I recommend you put a copy on the fridge or your bedroom wall so that you see it and revise it often.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Newsletter for September (Buildings!)

Kia ora koutou katoa - This is an exciting time in the school for property issues as we are currently planning to embark on a number of building projects. In order or priority they are:
Demolition of T1 (a large space in the old technology block that has been deemed beyond our entitlement by the Ministry of Education); refit of the rest of T block; refit of A block. In reality these last two items are a combined project. After these projects we will be concentrating on improving the adminsitration block, the road frontage and further improvements around the school as per our property plan.

Also being planned is a purpose built facility for the Teen Parent Unit and an early childhood centre on the school site (beside our stadium). This has been many years in the offing but it looks as if it will soon become a reality.

Our architects, Ardern and Peters, are currently working with the staff to develop plans for both T and A blocks, and to design a modern administration area and the Teen Parent Unit facility.

The demotion of T1 has started already with Pretty and Webb the successful company engaged to complete the work. Various sub-contractors have been engaged to attend to asbestos removal from pipes under T1, water, and electrician work. The Board of Trustees has worked hard to ensure that all work complies with health and safety requirements.

I am always staggered by the amount of talent in the school in so many fields. The Central Rugby Club teams, our netball teams, boys and girls' soccer, the hockey teams and basketball teams have all performed with distinction this year. Many of our students take advantage of the TSSSA sports activities as well in their busy lives. Our Kapa Haka group recently had a very successful workshop and performance day at Eltham Primary and the recent art exhibitions and auctions at Percy Thompson Gallery have also showcased the outstanding talent that is within the school. My thanks to all the parents, staff and students who coach, manager, support and participate in all of the sports and cultural activities that happen over the winter months. You've done a superb job.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Te Maunga Tuu (The mountain that rises up)

Te Maunga Tuu is a cluster of seven Taranaki schools that includes Opunake High School, Hawera High School, Coastal Taranaki, Inglewood High Shool, Waitara High School, Spotswood College, and Stratford High School. We have been planning this initiative for two years.

The Ministry of Education has agreed to fund our project (a schooling improvement/ professional development project) and this should finally get under way in 2009.

Why is this necessary? In a nutshell the situation in all of our schools is one of poor comparable achievement by Maori students at NCEA Level 1 compared to non Maori.

At Stratford High School the measures of success indicate that our Maori and non Maori students are comparable in years 9 and 10 and in numeracy and literacy at year 11 (indeed our Maori students out perform our non Maori in these important areas). The concern for us is that our Maori students are not able to perform as well as non Maori at NCEA level one. As a school we are improving the success rate over time (ie we have more than doubled the success rate from 15 to 35 per cent but this is low compared to the combined year 11 success rate of 66 per cent achieving NCEA level 1).

The schooling improvement project is targeting this concern. An action research methodology will be used and the project will be undertaken under the Co-construction model - working always within a culturally appropriate and responsive context.

Action research involves the following framework: An issue is defined > reconnaissance of the 'problem' or situation > intervention put into place > evaluation of intervention > intervention > evaluation > intervention > evaluation and so on.

Currently the project has a governance group (the seven Principals, Maori representatives and a Ministry of Education rep) and a data collection group working with Evaluation Associates, and a lead teacher group. For Stratford High School the lead teachers are Whaea Tina O'Carroll, Matua Jack Tamihana, and Philip Keenan.

Where to next? Tasks to be completed over the next few weeks: work on questions for a Cultural Audit to happen within schools, development / selection of a student engagement tool, data people will meet and set up protocols for a data audit for schools, the Theory for Improvment (TFI) and Action Plan will be redrafted, and Cluster-wide NCEA data will be sent to the cluster from MoE.

I will keep the community informed about Te Maunga Tuu progress via this blog.

Na - Warren Purdy

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Newsletter for August

Tēnā koutou katoa

I have recently enrolled a number of new students to the school and I would like to welcome them and their families to our school. Our net loss of students between the first of March count and first of July count was only 10 students. Given that schools naturally have a lot of senior leavers during the year this is a very encouraging statistic.

A recent assembly celebrated the success of our students in NCEA for 2007. We also took the opportunity to backdate for 2006 when the endorsement concept didn’t exist. Specifically we awarded ‘scholar’ badges to students who received endorsements for merit or excellence in NCEA. An endorsement means that at least 50 of the credits were either at merit or excellence standard. Clearly this is a tough award to gain and we awarded over thirty ‘scholar’ badges for level 1, nearly twenty for level 2. Eight students received a combination Level1/Level 2 ‘scholar’ badge. Congratulations to all of our scholars.

Staff news: We have recently farewelled our audio-visual technician – Troy Egan. We congratulate Matt Coleman on his promotion to Head of Science at St Mary’s Diocesan School. Matt has been here for a little over six years and richly deserves his promotion. We will formally farewell him at the end of this term.

I have recently started a blog (an on-line diary or journal) to share some thoughts and ideas with the community. You can access it via our website or else go directly to . Recent posts concern our very successful open evening for new students and Yale University’s open (and free) courses.

Term three is the term for us to firmly focus on achievement in the remaining internal standards that students face before many take on the external standards in term 4. A recent survey of our Poutama programme indicated that nearly 70% of students have completed at least one of their goals and reset other goals. This is a very encouraging sign as we enter the business end of the academic year. I encourage all students to continue to revisit their Poutama goals with the focus on internal standards in the next eight weeks. As Qui-Jon Jinn says, “Your focus determines your reality”

Nā Warren Purdy

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Newsletter for term 2

Tena koutou katoa

The staff at Stratford High School has recently been discussing ‘lockdown’ procedures to enhance staff and student safety. These procedures will only be used in the event of an emergency which could endanger the safety of staff and/or students. They are necessary in our school in case we have any threatening situations such as unlawful entry to the school by unwelcome visitors, serious accidents, events like gas leaks and so on.

The signal for a lockdown will be by three short bursts on the bell or notification by the Senior Management Team. At that point, if in class, the teacher will lock the doors and all students will stay in class until notified that the lockdown has ended. Students will not be permitted to make any unnecessary noise. If the lockdown happens during a break all students and staff will go quietly to the nearest available class for the lockdown. If the situation occurs towards the end of the day we will inform Tranzit of the situation. The buses will be diverted until the lockdown is concluded. Immediately after any lockdown all staff and students will proceed directly to the hall for a short debriefing session.

It is our aim to practice and review these procedures during the next two terms. Please feel free to contact me at the school if you have any questions or concerns regarding the lockdown procedure.

We have recently farewelled our librarian – Julie Woods who has given us excellent service for four years, and our sports co-ordinator Iain McNae. We welcome Julie’s replacement – Marie McGregor who is a former student of SHS and head girl (as Marie Old) in 1980. We also welcome Ina Fouche as our new receptionist/ administration assistant.

Finally – it’s been a very busy couple of weeks on the sporting and cultural fronts. First - congratulations to all of the staff and students associated with our Stage Challenge. I know I’m biased but I was very surprised that we didn’t secure a place in the top three during the evening. The actual performance was extremely polished, energetic, vibrant and exciting. Second – the Manu Korero/ Pae Rangatahi competition was held at Stratford High School last weekend. It was a hugely entertaining and successful event. Congratulations and thanks to McKenzie Marriner, Paul Haenga and our kapa haka who performed brilliantly and to whaea Tina and the huge numbers of staff, whanau and students who helped on the day. Third – the exchange to Taita College in Lower Hutt was a terrific opportunity for our students to represent our school. They did so in an excellent fashion and brought a lot of credit to the school. Congratulations and thanks to the staff and students who went to Taita and to Jacky Kofoed for her organisation. Each of these events made me very proud to be your Principal.

Warren Purdy

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yale University's open to all

The prestigious American university - Yale - has seven departments taking part in an open, free to users programme. Astronomy, English, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology and religious studies are the seven departments.

It's great for students who are looking to build on their studies, or for parents seeking to expand their knowledge, or for teachers as it brings you face to face with Yale's top lecturers.

There are video and audio materials and supplementary transcripts to assist your learning. The structure, reading notes and homework assignments are just the same as any other student on campus would be given, making the lessons as authentic as possible.

I had a look at a lecture on World War 1 poetry, for instance, under the English department and enjoyed the video lecture.

If you want to have a look just click on the Yale site in my links section to the left.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Open Evening

Our school's open evening was extremely well attended this year with large numbers of parents and year 8 students visiting us to find out about the exciting opportunities we offer our students.

The head students, Maggie and James explained about the sporting and cultural activities on offer, Deputy Principal Maria Potter outlined the goal setting programme that we call Poutama (stairway to success)and the graduation programme that students undertake in years 9 and 10. Mrs Butler the guidance counsellor explained her role with welcoming new year 9 students to the Stratford whanau. Unfortunately the Board chair (Pete Theron) and the PTA chair (Frosty Theron) were unable to attend but we welcome any and all interest in the PTA (just add a comment and we'll be in contact).

Here are a selection of photos from the night:

The school uniform was also on display thanks to 'Off The Cuff' - the school's sole uniform supplier (on the Broadway in Stratford).

Please feel free to leave a comment or contact the school if you have any further questions about our great school.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New technology continued

I have been describing this new technology to my class and some staff at school. I didn't quite believe it until I saw it. I present it here as evidence of what is around the corner (so are we going to go right on buying old fashioned laptops and building computer suites?...)


Friday, July 18, 2008

First-time Principal Programme

The first week of the study-break had me finishing off my certification for the programme in this post's title. This is an eighteen month programme hosted by the University of Auckland with funding from the Ministry of Education. It's designed to help first-time Principals get to grips with what they are about, what they have to tackle, what they don't know, and with what they actually know! A tallish order and it's a programme that has its strengths and weaknesses. Having done a similar kind of programme in the UK (called The NPQH - National Professional Qualification for Headship) I would have to say that on the whole I was more challenged and got more benefit from the much more hands on approach of the NPQH.

[sidebar - I found zero interest in the ideas used in NPQH when I explained them to the organisers of the F-TPP, and when in the UK I found organisers of the NPQH had zero interest in the Masters in Educational Leadership degree that I'd just completed in NZ prior to taking up a position in a UK school. Why is that? It surprised me a lot that the closed view was held in both cases.]

The certificate for the first-time programme encompasses three residentials spread over those eighteen months, a series of professional learning groups, the assignment of a mentor or two (thanks to Mark Bowden and Jill Usher who were mine), shadowing exercises, and some on-line material.

When I went to the first residential last year I felt overwhelmed by the theoretical stuff and felt exhausted (all three residentials are in our study-breaks). I was also amazed at the sheer numbers of new Principals (about 300 in my intake year) - most are in primary schools but three were in secondary schools in Taranaki.

The photo shows my fellow first-time Principals from Taranaki - Allan Miles from Coastal Taranaki area school and Jenny Gellen from Waitara High School. My thanks to them for their considerable support along the way. I hope I've reciprocated.

This last residential introduced me to the ideas of Mark Treadwell. Along with some of my colleagues I enjoyed Mark's entertaining style and his personal touch. His statement that passionate teachers make the best teachers touched a chord with many of us. His call for a new paradign shift in education given that oral language/oral communication is the #1 skill required in the 21st century was also well received. I enjoyed in a similar way the keynote address by Dr Julia Atkin which gave me a new appreciation for the context of the new NZ curriculum. I also attended some really worthwhile workshops on leading the ethical school, and Derek Wenmoth's digital technologies workshop introduced me to the idea of 'twitter' that I want to explore more this term.

Finally I am happy to report that the educational jargon was well down this time around (maybe because less MOE people gave addresses?). The results from my sessions were as follows - 'bang for buck' had 3 mentions, 'baby out with the bathwater' 2, 'reinvent the wheel' 2, 'drill down' 2, 'unpacked' 3, and the clear winner was 'underpinning' with 8 mentions.

That's it for the programme. If you're an educator visiting my blog I urge you to check out the following: Mark Treadwell and (or just google him) and Derek Wenmoth's blog at

Sunday, July 6, 2008

As term 2 ends so begins term 3...

The second term this year has been even more action packed than usual. In nine weeks students and staff fitted in a huge amount of activity: the variety concert (Hayley a star on drums and the long poi); our stage challenge entry in New Plymouth was vibrant, exciting, professional looking and robbed of a place; Manu Korero/Pae Rangatahi for Taranaki was held at our place and the Kapa Haka was brilliant; the sports exchange to Taita was held at Taita (Lower Hutt) over two rain soaked days; and the very successful school ball rounded off the term for the seniors.

And so to term three. I signalled to the students at our last assembly for the term that the study break leads into serious pursuit of academic achievement in terms three and four. In effect this means that for internal credits term three is the business end of the year (term four has the accent on external credits).

To all staff, students and whanau - have a great break and get refreshed for the second half of the year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We live in a changing world...

This video is called 'Shift Happens'. It takes a look at our changing world and how we need to change with it in terms of educating our students. We have used this at SHS with the staff as a lead in to our discussions about the new curriculum. We are looking at what we do here, how we do it, why we do it and what we can do to improve things for our students so that they can leave us with a set of skills for the world. Stratford High School - Staying local...going far!!

Technology upgrades

This is a great little youtube video to indicate how new technology can be challenging. See what medieval monks make of this new invention - the 'book'.