From the Principal

December 07, 2012 at 2:42 PM

It has been a momentous year for the College and here is the speech given by the Principal, Mr Cole, at the Middle School prize giving.

This year, in particular, has seen a sustained effort in bringing all four schools together philosophically and practically. This is requiring effort by all parties as several factors work against a close working relationship, not the least being the geographic distance that separates us.  The Trust Board has taken the imaginative step of appointing Mrs Hastie as Head of Primary which reflects the Head of College position.  We then, as a community, welcomed the appointment of Mr Peter Cassie, an experienced and highly thought of educator, to the position of Principal of the Boys’ School.

I have been thankful to a number of the College staff who have met with their counterparts throughout the Trust, to exchange ideas and bring curriculum documents into parallel. They are reporting how valuable they are finding this experience. I was delegated to meet with the Ground Staff and Gardeners which was hugely enjoyable!

The Cookbook was a significant initiative undertaken by the three Parents & Friends Associations from the three campuses. It has been an object lesson in what can be achieved when working towards a common goal.

As always, at the beginning of the year, the academic results were eagerly awaited.  In NCEA, Level 1 results were stronger than the College has previously achieved.  90% of pupils gained Level 1 Certificates, 100% and 99.3% in Literary and Numeracy respectively.  What was particularly pleasing was that over 72% gained Merit Endorsement or better.

Level 2 results were also very strong and significantly better than the year before but the Level 3 were a mixed bag.  The pleasing aspect here was that 93% of students gained University Entrance, well up from last year but the number of Excellence endorsements gained by our NCEA pupils was disappointing.

This can somewhat be explained by the very strong International Baccalaureate cohort who completed this course in 2011.  This group had the great majority of our academic youngsters and their results showed it.  Five of these students gained 40+ points, an impressive achievement.  27 of the 38 students gained 32+ points – this magical number allows students entry into any course at a NZ University.  Interestingly, our Joint Duces from 2011 Angus and Alex Cheng, gained 43 and 44 points respectively.

Nevertheless, we are still awaiting one of our pupils to achieve the maximum mark of 45 – maybe this year?

It was great to read an article in the NZ Herald recently which placed our NCEA results at every level in the very, very top echelon of Auckland schools.

In other matters academic, we have introduced a new subject of Commercial Studies at Level 3. Now running at Level 2 and for the first time in 2013 at Level 3 is Travel and Tourism, Commercial Studies, Outdoor Education and Sports Leadership.

For the 2013 academic year, we are introducing scholarship classes in Year 13 NCEA, particularly for the larger subjects of English, Maths with Calculus, Statistics and the individual Sciences. 

During the year, much progress has been made in offering Gifted and Talented students a more exciting pathway, not only in the traditional subjects but also in The Arts.  This important ongoing development needs to continue to have enthusiastic support.

Many academic staff have been involved with the new website and Online Learning Environment development.  This will prove to be a leading interactive and innovative digital space for creativity, learning, expression and communication online.  

In particular, the OLE will offer parental access, which allows families to be involved in the education process, ensuring students are supported both at school and at home. My thanks to Ms Kay Forrester, who has played a key role as Strategic Marketing Manager and to Ms Alison Derbyshire and Mrs Tracey Dykstra each of whose vision and hard work will be realised.

In addition to our usual service initiatives, which continue to develop each year, there have been a number of innovations:
At Riverina Primary School in Manurewa, our College has been able to support their Breakfast Club and a variety of practical needs in their community including essentials such as clothes and shoes.  We have been helping to train their Mathex student teams for the competition and in 2013 will be helping with their Netball and Rugby teams through a new Sports Academy.

A further new initiative has been a Stationery Bank which helps new entrant students at a number of low decile schools with a stationery pack to begin the year. A new relationship has been set up with Tata School in Vanuatu and we look forward to our Year 12 students being able to visit there on an annual basis to help this school and community.

Our Year 9 Home Centre this year includes all students spending time helping in a number of primary schools both in class and in sports and with lunchtime activities.  My thanks go to Mr Mark Robinson, the driver and leader of Service at Saint Kentigern College.

This year Field Centre had the largest intake of students in its history. This event, which has been a highlight of the Year 10 programme for 43 years, had the extra bite in 2012 through the indiscretion of the mountain.  Despite, and perhaps because of the extra bite, this year’s Field Centre was as good if not better than most. The weather was kind.  The boys and girls were enthusiastic and positive. My sincere thanks to the staff who willingly give their time and expertise, in particular Mr Duncan McQueen and Mr Chris Duncan.  Their leadership in difficult circumstances was exceptional.  Thank you.

The College continues to be the envy of most schools in terms of its extensive, varied and remarkable co-curricular programme.  A full list of artistic, dramatic and sporting successes, along with a growing variety of clubs is reported on in this Yearbook. 

The Senior Management Team asked Rev Smith to audit our entire co-curricular programme.  His interim report commented in this way. ‘It is extremely encouraging to note that our teaching staff are involved in a combined total of over 13,600 hours of co-curricular activity per annum, at an average of over 100 hours per person. The vast majority of these hours are outside the school day and do not include school camps, curriculum based visits, overseas trips in the school holidays or any of the vast number of sporting exchanges or tournaments that occur. Our co-curricular programme is truly staggering in its proportions and the vast majority of staff are engaged in giving of their time, energy and expertise.’

This is, of course, music to any Headmasters ears but we must keep pushing for further opportunities and excellence in these areas so that the co-curricular life at Saint Kentigern College continues to be a point of difference.

Also a point of difference is the ongoing excellence offered by our Chaplain.  His thought provoking, timely and passionate Chapel Services make him unique in school chaplaincy.  He continues to be a leader within our community.  This year he has been backed by extraordinary Chapel musicians and huge support from the parental community in our Sunday evening Chapels.

The year has been a difficult one for staffing. During the course of the year, Mrs Westram, Mrs Dale, Mrs Etty, Mrs Whinham and Mrs Stewart all took maternity leave ….which of course is wonderful! Also during the course of the year, Mrs Allen, our E Learning Facilitator left us, Mr Greaney left to take up a post overseas, Dr Martin, a long standing member of the Biology department retired and Mr Blyth, a respected and effective teacher of Geography, Head of House and Sports coach gained a senior promotion at Mahurangi College. 

Three teachers leave us at the end of the year: Mrs Rachel Passmore, who after a two term sabbatical, is continuing her career at the University of Auckland.  Mrs Passmore has been an effective teacher of Senior Mathematics and a passionate supporter of the College Hockey programme.

Two long serving staff are retiring from teaching:  Mrs Leigh Cunningham has been with us for over 20 years.  She has been a dedicated classroom teacher of English, an old-school practitioner, who has emphasized the fundamentals of the English language and literature.  A fine team player, she has supported successive Heads of English and has been extensively involved in a wide range of co-curricular activities including, interestingly, manager of the 1st XV.  Her caring nature has been appreciated by many boys and girls over the years. I thank you Mrs Cunningham for all that she has contributed to the life of Saint Kentigern College.

One of our finest ‘sons’ also left us at the end of the 2012 academic year.  Mr Peter Hadfield has been a teacher at the College since 1969 – that is 44 years!  His contribution and service as a classroom teacher is unlikely to ever be surpassed.  He concludes his remarkable career as Head of Science, where his contribution as a fatherly, scholarly leader has been unequalled.  It is, however, as a classroom teacher of Chemistry that Peter has excelled.  Indeed, in my career, I can only think of a very small group of teachers of this quality. His scholarly approach to his subject and continual demands for achievement by his students, have been important factors in developing the academic reputation of our College. Outside the classroom, Peter’s contribution has been immense – Field Centre and Rowing owe much of their success to his energy and enthusiasm. Peter has contributed in numerous other areas of the College, too many to list!  On behalf of five Headmasters, I wish to formally thank Peter, not only for his achievements but for his wise counsel, his calm demeanor and outstanding professionalism.  We farewell one of the Great Men of Saint Kentigern.

Both Mrs Cunningham and Mr Hadfield epitomize the wonderful career that teaching can be.  A commitment to an institution and days spent doing positive, worthwhile and potentially life changing activities with splendid young people is a fantastic way to spend one’s working life.  It is all embracing.

I am reminded of a scene from “A Man for All Seasons”…a fabulous play based on the life of Sir Thomas Moore, Chancellor to Henry VIII and Lord Chancellor of England. Here, Thomas Moore is advising one of his protégés, Richard Rich, on his career.   Moore says to Rich ‘Why not be a teacher?  You would be good at that, might even be great.’ Rich replies, ‘But who will know?’ Moore’s response… ‘You, your pupils, your friends and God, not a bad public that.’

My thanks go to many who play such an important role in the day to day life of our College: Our Maintenance and Ground staff are outstanding in their work and the support that they provide which is evident as we look around this incredible campus. The College community is grateful to the Trust Board for their expertise and support.  I thank my Senior Management team of Mrs Winthrop, Mr McQueen, Mr Stead, Mrs Dykstra and Rev Smith – on whose wisdom and experience I rely on hourly.   My thanks to our exceptional academic staff who have the important role of teaching and learning in their hands.

I am thankful for the support that I continue to receive from Mr Shiels and Mr Keane in our Trust Board office. I thank the administration team and support staff, and Trust Board staff for their work and commitment to the Trust, our parents and the extended community for their support and care.

I give special thanks to all our parents, caregivers and extended community who support the College throughout the year. My deep thanks go to the Parents and Friends Committee for their ongoing and invaluable support of our College.  Thanks also to our Old Collegians Association who we enjoy working with and who are generous in their support.

Mrs Winthrop and I have had the pleasure of working with an exceptional group of young people in their roles as Senior Prefects. Chelsea Wiggill, Tim Cleaver and Hannah Lohrentz have all led with assurance and a commitment to make the most of their unique year.  They are truly representative of what we would wish a Saint Kentigern Graduate to be – people who will ‘serve and lead with distinction.’

At the end of January, 2013 we will be beginning our 60th year here at Pakuranga. This is noteworthy in that 60 years ago, our Founders saw their vision become a reality and that vision has culminated in a hugely significant educational establishment which incorporates four schools across three campuses and a pupil population of over 2500 children. Plans for celebrating this event over the weekend of 8-10 March 2013 are well advanced thanks to the hard work and skills of Mr McQueen. Events will include a cocktail party, a dinner, a Chapel Service and the official opening of the MacFarlan Centre which is now fully operational. I look forward to welcoming you, along with our many former students to a weekend of celebration.

Steve Cole, Head of College

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