Sunday, November 29, 2009

Strategic Planning Day- Planning for our future

On Saturday we had a great session with the BOT and the leadership team as we reflected on the progress we have made over the last three years and planned for the next three to five years. This was the first time that the new leadership team for 2010 had an opportunity to work with the BOT. the new look team includes the existing leadership team of myself two Deputy Principals and an Associate principal plus five new team leaders.
It was fantastic to look back at the strategic goals and direction set by the BOT and leadership team in '06 and '07 and see just how much has been achieved.
Over that time the school has developed a strong sense of identity through the filter of "Learning together with PRIDE" It was very evident to all that our motto is not just writing on the walls but rather living and breathing at Windsor. Over the last three years much has been achieved in improving outcomes for learners in and through reading, ICT, integrated learning (called Pai Modules at Windsor), and maths. 
Curriculum leaders have worked very hard to ensure that best practice is evident in all classrooms and that targeted support is provided to teachers and children who are yet to met expectations. In addition they have closely analysed data to identify trends, needs and future direction.
Staff are more clear about what is expected in the key areas of learning and are also clear on their next steps for learning. This has been achieved through the development of our "Matrix"- Guidelines for Quality teaching and learning at Windsor.
Much has been done to encourage "CHILL Factor" (CHildren Leading their Learning) through three way learning conferences, goal setting, co constructed success criteria, reflecting on progress through reports,PRIDE Challenges, and involvement in decision making across the school. This continues to be an ongoing focus and interest for us.
One of the most exciting aspects about Saturday was the collective consensus on 'less is more' as the team planned for 2010 as well as a decision to be responsive to emerging needs each year when deciding the annual goals for the following year.
We are all looking forward to an exciting 2010 where we can focus on improving outcomes in writing and embed the progress made over the last three years.- Full report to follow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Time to Pause

Time to pause and think about what we are all about. It is not just about outcomes, nor standards, not even reports and report writing, not tests, assessment tasks, learning outcomes or co constructed success criteria. 
It is about children. May our politicians and we remember that we are working with children each day. they want to play, have fun, be engaged, run, jump, laugh, interact, read, write (well at least some of them) yes do maths but ultimately they do these things because they enjoy them. Maths is in there in primary school as a thing children enjoy because they are still (or at least were) "getting it", they are successful, challenged but successful, they know they were right! Play, fun and games are fun because the child is having a great time with friends and usually they are experiencing success. 
Time to pause and consider how important play, fun, and success are to the child. Are we to keen to create "mini me's"?, mini adults who are consumed with achievement outcomes and goal setting (dare I say it) and all sorts of grown up notions.
Lets celebrate the child, who they are and should be. Lets not rush them to the finish post. Pause and let the children be children!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome to our new families

We are about to welcome 60 new families to Windsor to start in Term 1 2010. These parents will see their children start school in 2010 and finish in 2023! If they go on to tertiary studies it may be 2027 before they enter the workforce... Ponder that, what will the world be like? How will we communicate, how will we shop, be entertained, travel, learn? I have no idea but I do know that positive values, a strong work ethic and positive relationships will be important. 
I know that throughout time we have looked for and will continue to seek people who relate well with others, show initiative, can problem solve and are resourceful. We value those who show perseverance and aim for excellence in whatever they do. 
It is a real buzz to be involved with families as we start the journey with their children. Our Powhiri (Thursday 26 November 9:00am) is the first step- a chance for families to get a taste of our learning place, a feel for the culture of Windsor and to see our older children in action! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Standards con't...

and for a bit more (well really a lot more) reading for those who are truly interested try this . There is to much to summarize but I believe that those who are really interested in the best for their children should have a read.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

National Standards Why the Big Fuss?

The National Standards have been release in school and we are to start using them in 2010. They were and are a political agenda- an election promise. They set out some guidelines for achievement expectations for all children. They have been rushed into schools (for staff a three month lead in as opposed to 3 years for the Revised Curriculum) and they promise much.
Why the fuss?
Internationally they have failed to deliver. The UK is now moving away from National Standards as they have created winner and looser schools, schools where children come from homes where rest, nutrition, literature, love and kindness are not important typically achieve very poorly on National Standards- this should not be a surprise to us. 70% of the achievement outcomes of a child is determine by "home" factors. National standards (and this means testing) will not change that.
National Standards lead to league tables- these help no one.
League tables and national standards do not take into account "value added" that is what the teacher is able to do to improve outcomes for a child who comes to school with little or no language, little or no support at home and special behavioural or learning needs.
We are told:
Parents want accountability- we have ERO!
Parents want plain language - most schools have been offering it
Parents want to see where their child sits compared to national standards- I disagree if we gave parents what they want most say where does my child sit in relation to the class! Regardless schools (including Windsor) already do this with asttle , star, NZ exemplars...

If National standards are so important why not allow the time to upskill teachers, consider the research and feedback internationally and trial a system in NZ?

We have a world class Curriculum- it is at risk- schools and teachers may well start teaching to the test so that they perform well in national standards and in the media- a sad day for our nation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Community Fair

Six hundred children, sixty staff, hundreds of community members, a beautiful day and up to 10 000 visitors all created a fantastic Windsor School Community Fair. Together with our community the PTA Fair Committee raised nearly $25 000 to go towards our new school entrance and a senior basketball court.
The day indicated to me how communities really learn and work together and also the sense of PRIDE that this community has in it's school, staff and children.
Special thanks to Kim and Megan for their organisation and energy in making the day possible.