There has been cause for ongoing celebration at Avondale College over recent months, with national and international recognition of achievements in a variety of areas.
The year began with outstanding academic results from NCEA and Cambridge examinations, including one student (Chanuri Fernando) who came first in the world in the international IGCSE Chemistry exam, and six others topping New Zealand in their Cambridge Exams - including music student (and Blockhouse Bay Primary and Intermediate alumnus), Toby Barrett!
It's already been a great year for Toby - his band 'Toby and the Rest' released their first album, and the Avondale College Jazz Quartet, in which he plays saxophone, won the 'Best Combo' award at two national secondary schools jazz competitions, in Tauranga and Wellington! The College's music programme continues to go from strength to strength, with the Avondale College Gospel Choir winning two awards at the Auckland Big Sing choral festival, along with selection to the prestigious 'Cadenza' festival in Rotorua in August.
Meanwhile, twelve other jazz and classical ensembles are preparing to take part in the upcoming Auckland Jazz Competition and the KBB Music Festival in August.
Avondale College will be holding its Open Evening
on Wednesday 4 August from 4-7pm.
Prospective students and their families are warmly invited!
By Neil Robinson
The Government launched the Investing in Educational Success initiative in January 2014 and it included a number of ideas that it felt would deliver significant and sustained improvements in students’ educational outcomes. One of these ideas was then labelled Community of Schools (CoS), which was later to be changed to Communities of Learning (CoL) and more recently, Kāhui Ako (KA).
Initially, the scheme was criticised heavily because its restrictions and conditions were seen by the teaching profession to be counterproductive to schools working together. Amongst these was that the government believed that by financially rewarding a small group of educators, collaboration across the sector would improve. The system also omitted the significant place that Deputy Principals hold in the school, effectively leaving them out of the entire process.
Over time though, the government and Ministry of Education have relaxed some of these restrictions and schools that have chosen to be part of the process, have collaborated to make good use of this extra resourcing. Interestingly, no two Kāhui Ako are the same, and all seem to operate in ways that best suit their own community and unique context.
The Lynfield Kāhui Ako was one of the first to be established in the country and began its work in the second half of 2015. There were eight schools originally in the group: Lynfield College, Waikowhai Intermediate, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate, Halsey Drive Primary, Marshall Laing Primary, Chaucer School, Glenavon School and Blockhouse Bay Primary. Hay Park Primary joined in 2019 and New Windsor became a member school at the beginning of 2021.
The scheme is overseen by the principals who meet regularly to set and monitor the direction of initiatives that are being undertaken. Six Across School Leaders work throughout the cluster to initiate and implement activities which bring together staff and students to fulfil goals set within the strategic plan. These people have teaching roles within their own schools but are released for two days per week to run these initiatives as well as coaching Within School Leaders to run professional development programmes within their own schools. The KA has thirty-one Within School Leaders who provide leadership and assistance to other teachers in their own kura. They meet together regularly to exchange ideas which focus on helping their teachers to build their own teaching practice.
In 2021, the Lynfield Kāhui Ako is focusing on the well-being of staff and students, teaching in culturally responsive ways, and improving teaching and learning overall. These themes were recently explored in a ‘Colference’ where guest speakers and presenters explored these themes and challenged the assembled teaching and support staff to look at ways of refining their work in schools.
Initially, there was very little (if any) consultation with the teaching profession about the Community of Schools concept and this led to a very shaky start to its implementation. Since then, more flexibility in the system and the ability of teachers to make things work, have allowed the initiative to make a significant contribution to New Zealand's educational landscape.
By John Cowan
everything. As you encourage and praise what they are good at, rather than rubbing their nose in their failures, it might just lift their attitude about school and help them flourish academically as well.
X-ray your kids. Whatever problems your kids encounter at school, look through the symptoms with your parental x-ray vision to see what the real issues might be. Stroppy behaviour? Absenteeism? Persistent under-achievement? (This could be a long list!) All real issues, but they might have some underlying cause like bullying, friction with a teacher or depression.
And don’t forget: the corridors and classrooms of high schools are awash with pubescent hormones. Adolescence runs happily and smoothly for some, but for many it is fraught with stresses and frustration from peer pressure, romantic pressure, and a desperate desire to fit in. Some teenagers get a bit cranky; just as well as they have remarkable parents who can get over that and love them anyway.
Stay in touch and stay on side. Successful school life depends hugely on self-discipline. Young adolescents still need parents to provide structure around sleep, study time and appropriate behaviour – your external discipline hopefully provides the scaffold for them to build their own self-discipline on.
Doing schoolwork is fine, but for a lifetime of growth and progress, nothing compares with curiosity and a love of learning. Chat about school, ask questions and be interested in what they are learning. Is it wrong for a parent to fake fascination with French verbs and algebra? If that’s the worst crime we are guilty of, we are pretty amazing parents!
John Cowan is an accomplished author, media producer and seminar presenter. He's been a hospital scientist in neurophysiology, a youth worker, a social worker, minister, and parenting expert, but his primary passion is communication: mainly as a speaker to live audiences, and as a writer. His wit and humour have been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people in live audiences around the country. John hosts NewstalkZB’s weekly show, ‘Real Life’.