Sunday, 6 November 2016

Looking backwards and forwards

The text of my 2016 Senior Prize Giving speech.

Senior Prize Giving 2016

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain
Tihei Mauri Ora!
Ki nga kaumatua me nga kuia, tena koutou
Ki nga mana whenua ki Ngati Moki me Ngati Ruahekeheke ki taumutu, tena koutou
Ki te Kura Te Huruhuru Ao o Horomaka, tena koe
Tēnā koutou katoa

Our Board Deputy Chair, Mr Jonti Ward, fellow Board of Trustees members, Te Taumutu runanga, honoured guests, colleagues, parents and friends, ladies and gentlemen, students of Hornby High School  - welcome every one of you, welcome to this 42nd senior prize giving of Hornby High School. As I begin this my first prize giving address I am mindful that you will most likely be wondering how long you will need to sit and endure my words. When I talk of ‘Achieved ‘ grades you will know that we are almost there.

It was Benjamin Franklyn who said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” To that list someone added “change”, and over this last year  Hornby High School has certainly seen its fair share of change, with plenty more on the horizon.

2016 began in the wake of the departure of Mr Richard Edmundson as Principal. Mr Edmundson is a visionary educator, a remarkable change agent, a man who brought Hornby High School forward by leaps and bounds, a man to whom I am very grateful as together with a wonderful staff team he created the solid platform for our school’s next steps.

I am grateful to the members of the senior leadership team, and to staff generally, as they stepped up during term 1 awaiting my arrival.  Mr Jon Rogers, Mrs Karen Wheeler and Mrs Sue Elley, and Mrs Laurie Tafua, deserve special mention in that regard.

During the year we have experienced some additional changes to staff. Mr Andrew Cooper (TiC History) and Mrs Justine Menzies (SENCO) left us at the end of term 3 to take up positions as establishment staff at the new Rolleston College. Mrs Julia Messenger left us in the middle of term 2, and we are very grateful to Mr Warren Cain who stepped in to fill the breach for the remainder of term 2 and most of term 3, creating a settled learning environment for those children. Late in term three we welcomed back Mrs Diane Alpers as a relieving teacher. Diane has a record of long and faithful service to and support of Hornby High School over many years and she filled a final short term gap for us before the arrival of Ms Marina Shehata who has taken up the permanent position as Year 7 team leader.

Mrs Oonagh Beharrel our guidance counsellor decided that motherhood is simply far too attractive and so tendered her resignation before her planned return from maternity leave. We were thrilled to appoint Mrs Sarah Kavanagh to the permanent position of Guidance Counsellor, the role she had been filling in a relieving role since the beginning of the year.

Mrs Helen Temby from the learning support team left us at the end of October to begin a well earned retirement and we also received the resignation of Mrs Sudha Pandaram, HOD Mathematics as she takes a break from teaching. We wish them all well in these next steps in their life journeys.

We also learned that Mrs Barbara Climo was granted a study leave position for the whole of 2017, and Ms Helen Boothby gained a Royal Society fellowship in science education leadership, absent terms 1 and 2. To both our best wishes as you take up these well deserved opportunities.

Kaye Banks, Jonti Ward and Donna Sutherland were re-elected to the Board of Trustees, and Rochelle Jackson was elected for her first term. Rylu Dequita was elected as the new student representative. Thankyou to you all for putting yourselves forward, this is important work that you do.

I would also like to express our thanks to our outgoing student representative Fatafehi Tongotongo. You have represented your student peers well.

One of the first tasks undertaken by the new Board was to revisit their vision for the school. Every organisation needs a vision, an aspirational statement of what it wants to be in the future. A vision should be bold, audacious and challenging, and our new Board has not stepped back from the challenge.

Their vision for Hornby High School going forward is ‘A centre of creative excellence’. This acknowledges that the world is changing, and that as an educational organisation we must be ready to meet that challenge. Why the focus on creativity?

Consider this: In a 2015 report the NZ Institute of Economic Research predicted that within the next 15-25 years 46% of the jobs that we know today may well cease to exist as technology replaces workers undertaking routine repetitive jobs. One simple illustration close to home was the recent announcement by the Christchurch International Airport Authority that it will begin on road trials of driverless buses in 2017.

Our future lies in developing and exploiting those things that make us human, a message that I have tried to communicate regularly to staff and students (and I apologise now to everyone who has heard me rant about these things already). It includes our ability to empathise, to understand our fellow human beings, and the abilities to think creatively, critically and collaboratively.

Creativity is not limited to what you might traditionally think of as the arts. We mean creativity in every endeavour that we undertake, technology, sport, mathematics, physical and social sciences, administration and governance. Our biggest challenge now is to determine exactly what that looks like for each of us. What for example will creative governance look like? What will creativity on the sports field or in the science lab look like?

In steering the school towards this vision, the Board resolved to adopt three strategic goals:
To provide future focussed individualised learning
To create and sustain an inclusive learning community
To foster inspirational, risk taking and enterprising leadership in all members of our learning community

There is much in what the school has been doing over the past 8 years that is already closely aligned with these goals, but there is also the opportunity to look the new vision squarely in the eye and say ‘come on then, bring it on’.

Perhaps our most pressing and immediate challenge lies with the complete rebuild of our built environment starting in March 2017. Much of the new design matches our new vision and goals. The initial stages of the rebuild have been designed to accommodate a predicted roll of 800 students, and the school has been master planned for roll growth to 1200 students. The rebuild is planned completion by late 2019

As the build progresses we must not forget this:

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

The buildings will allow us to do great things, but these things do not happen without a dedicated talented and hardworking staff, and our wonderful tamariki. They are our true taonga. Thank you for entrusting their care and development to us.

When all said and done however we are here tonight to celebrate achievement and it is important that we don’t take our eye off the ball and forget that this is our primary purpose. The school’s NCEA results at the end of 2015 were the best yet, with level 1 pass rates higher than the average for all schools regardless of decile rating. This speaks of the enormous dedication, energy and hard work that our staff put in with your tamariki, and I would like to publicly thank them here tonight for their wonderful dedication, their skill and focus.

There is plenty more to be done, and the biggest challenge will be to align the vision, the buildings, the teaching methodology, and student aspiration. Staff continue to put a large amount of effort into their consideration of the changes in teaching practice that our brave new world demands. We are a school of immensely strong relationships, and we should be proud of the resilience that lies behind these relationships. All staff regardless of their jobs provide an amazing degree of wrap around support for our students. We have to remind ourselves that these relationships are necessary for good learning, but in themselves are not sufficient to cause that learning.

Staff continue to develop their skills in using best evidence practice supported by research coming from a wide range of educational organisations.Trials are underway with project based learning in the junior school as staff look for approaches that will make learning more relevant, engaging and challenging for all students. The use of data is increasingly informing decision-making whether it be about class groupings or support for the Ministry’s priority learners.

The school’s journey into the digital era has continued with students in Years 7 to 10 making increasing use of Chromebooks in their learning. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the positive impact of digital learning for students. Hornby High School is a part of the Manaiakalani Education Trust’s Hornby Cluster, the work of which is underpinned by the methodology ‘Learn Create Share’, and there again is the reference to creativity. We are grateful for and excited by the preparation that our partnership schools are giving their students in preparation for their transition to Hornby High School. Let me now publicly acknowledge your contribution and say thank you. The work you do is quite extraordinary. Thank you too to the Manaiakalani Outreach Trust, Dorothy and Russell Burt, and Pat Sneddon, you are truly pioneers and visionaries, people driven by the moral imperative behind what we do.

The Spark Foundation announcement of its new ‘Spark Jump’ programme allowing cheaper access to broadband will be a significant enabler for students to improve their learning using digital tools. Thank you to Spark Foundation for this exciting initiative, and for your generous donation which will be used to help more families access personal devices. From 2017 we will require all students to have a Chromebook with which to undertake their work.

Let us not forget however that learning happens in many ways, and we use what I term a ‘blended learning environment’, that is an environment in which we focus on using the right tool, for the job. There are times when the Chromebook is the right tool, but other times when a pen and paper are the right tool for the job.

Across the entire secondary school network in Christchurch there is a new air of cooperation readily apparent as schools, the Ministry of Education, and the School Trustees Association attempt to coordinate decision making at the strategic level to produce the best quality of education possible across the whole city. A part of this has been formalising mechanisms that promote the sharing of best practice between schools. Our own journey down the path of project based learning has been informed through such sharing. Integral to this coordination will be the introduction of school zones across the city to ensure that all children can access their nearest local school. Our moral imperative is to ensure that all children have access to quality education. This requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things. As one comic once said, insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result.

There are many people and organisations that need to be acknowledged and thanked at this time of year. First and foremost are my wonderful colleagues. Regardless of whether they are teaching or non teaching staff they all do a wonderful job. Teaching staff deliver the learning, but that is not possible without all of the many support functions that sit alongside them: grounds and maintenance, security, administration and accounts, all completed by wonderful people. Thank you.

To our many supporting organisations, thank you. The Hub and Hornby Working Men’s Club, a special mention as long term supporters of our wonderful tamariki. Your actions  demonstrate your understanding of the desirability of investing in your local community. Please be assured that you do make a positive difference.
Thank you also to our many other supporters:

L CERT Trust
Mainland Foundation
OJI Fibre Solutions
Konica Minolta
ISS Facilities Services
Westpac Trust - Hornby Branch
Orica Chemicals

Finally, to our prize winners, well done. Tonight we acknowledge and celebrate your attitude, your persistence and your achievement. The prizes we award acknowledge only one part of the wonderful achievement represented here tonight, and throughout the school. In NCEA terms, an ‘Achieved’ may be a wonderful result for some, but a mediocre performance for others. Everyone who produces a personal best performance is a winner. You owe it to yourselves to accept nothing less than your best. Over the next few weeks many of you face the biggest test of the year as you sit external examinations, some for the first time. Go well, don’t settle for second best, be the best that you can be.

To our 2016 Prefects, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to the school, and to all of our leavers - please know that you take with you our best wishes, and the knowledge that at Hornby High School you have your turangawaewae, your place to stand.

Noreira tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa

R Sutton