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Message from the Headmaster – May 2023

Dear Parents,

As Term 2 begins, there is considerable public debate about the state of the New Zealand Education system. This includes commentary about low student attendance rates, poor achievement rates of students who sat pilot numeracy and literacy assessments, the contents of a refreshed New Zealand curriculum, anecdotes about streaming and the proposed strike action of secondary teachers related to remuneration. You can be assured that amongst the debate, the School will retain and apply its educational philosophy.

The work of E. D. Hirsch, the author of Why Knowledge Matters, seems particularly relevant as the debate continues. Some of his work provides a sound explanation for the style of schooling your son receives. Hirsch pointed out, “We can greatly accelerate the achievements of all students if we adopt knowledge-oriented modes of schooling.” Shying away from such an approach in New Zealand is providing a perception education is easy, and maybe more fun for some but it is irresponsible, as without knowing it, affected students lose the ability to grow a thorough knowledge framework.

While national debate grows as the rate of acceptable disruptions to schooling do, we are very mindful that our primary role is to teach knowledge rich content to those in our care. We aim to support their growth and learning, while holding them accountable for our non-negotiable expectations that I have shared with them and you regularly. Our focus is on providing a consistent, stable environment that promotes the learning of content in uninterrupted fashion.

You recently received your sons Term 1 reports and I have asked all students to genuinely read and review their report so they can assess their performance and set at least three specific goals for this term. 

After reviewing the data we collected throughout Term 1, we want to see all young men better their ‘personal bests’ from their first 11 weeks of teaching.  In order to achieve this, they need to be tested in an environment where their academic performance can be measured accurately and independently. 

Just as they may be motivated by a ‘personal best’ in sport (such as the reaction you see when a developing sportsman finally scores from the set piece the team have been practising), we need all students focused on creating ‘personal bests’ in each of their subjects, through common tests and examinations. There is no reason why their reactions after experiencing academic success cannot replicate those from the sports field, because it is the same dedication to practice that allows such success to be realised.

Term 2 is a ‘business as usual term’. We need young men to be focused on meeting all of our basic expectations, rather than picking and choosing which parts of Grammar they support. These include:

  • Being present and on time, then meeting commitments and demonstrating personal excellence without excuse – in the classroom, with homework and study
  • Being involved outside the classroom and in doing so showing commitment to their team / group practices and match / performance obligations
  • Showing respect and pride through the way their uniform is worn and their grooming is maintained – being standard setters who work ‘above the line’ and reflect this in other parts of their lives including consistent attitudes and behaviours

The consistent implementation of our shared educational philosophy and a positive, high-standards culture are the universal building blocks for success. The framework for our community is ‘The Grammar Way’.

We look forward to the educational conversations with you this term as your sons build their knowledge base and enjoy creating new ‘personal bests’. 

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

Tim O’Connor