|Years 12 & 13 Prize-Giving, 2014
In term one we learned that WSC students had achieved the school’s best ever NCEA results:
Based on NCEA pass rates for Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and U.E. combined, WSC became the top performing decile 8 state secondary school in NZ for the sixth consecutive year.
Using the same criteria WSC placed first equal last year among all 58 state secondary schools in the Auckland region. The school has held first or second ranking in Auckland every year since 2009.
Beyond pass rates, the major cause for celebration was the breakthrough in terms of grade quality: our Excellence Certificate endorsements, especially for Level 2, but also for Level 1, reached the same high rankings as our pass rates: the 27% of Level 2 students who gained Excellence certification placed WSC second among all Auckland state schools, and first among decile 8 state schools nation-wide.
The one area where we did not have cause for celebration was the Scholarship results which dropped from the high point reached the previous year (in 2012).
In response to an initiative by our student board representative, Isabella Lenihan-ikin, and a request from the Board of Trustees, two of our deputy principals, Ruth Roberts and Paul Alford, have led a review of provision for Scholarship examinations at WSC.
The review recommendations, which have to date received the strong support of senior staff and the trustees, seek to develop a school culture which encourages able students to pursue academic excellence at the highest possible levels from early in their schooling at the college with the ultimate aim of entering Scholarship in as many subjects as possible.
Currently, most Year 13 students struggle to manage entry into more than one Scholarship subject because they have to cope concurrently with preparation for as many as five Level 3 NCEA examinations for University Entrance purposes.
The main method of increasing the capacity of our Year 13 students to undertake study for Scholarship examinations, and also to enrol in university papers under the auspices of the Auckland University Young Scholars programme, will in the future be through personalised subject acceleration from Year 10 onwards. The learning effectiveness of this multi-levelling policy is supported by a significant body of research evidence and accords with the outcomes and recommendations of a Year 9 pilot programme in 2013 here at WSC led by former deputy principal, Shaun Hawthorne, in association with the University Of Auckland. It is an approach which will enable approved students to attend to most, if not all, of their Level 3 NCEA prerequisites for U.E. by the end of Year 12. Clearly, it will involve much earlier planning and a more deliberate, concerted building towards Scholarship in the final year of school.
While acceleration on a small scale is certainly not new to WSC, the difference in future will be a programme which caters for significantly larger numbers of students in each cohort. This is in recognition of the high proportion of our students whom assessment data shows have the ability to excel at high levels, evidenced by more than one in four of our Level 1 and Level 2 students gaining Excellence Certification last year.
In order to ensure the successful implementation of these recommendations, we have decided to establish a new position, Coordinator of Accelerated Courses. This teacher will be responsible for administering carefully determined, evidence-based selection criteria and consulting closely with subject teachers, house heads (or deans) and other academic guidance staff to facilitate fair and accurate identification. Other responsibilities will involve close monitoring of the progress of accelerated students, putting in place support for them on an as-need basis, and regular liaison with their parents.
The Board of Trustees is concerned to address resourcing issues by means of generating and targeting additional funds to improve the conditions under which teachers work with Scholarship students. Currently, teachers receive token compensation for the lunchtime, after school and term break hours they devote to working with Scholarship students outside their timetabled teaching programme.
Clearly, the main beneficiaries of this long term programme of accelerated learning will be students younger than you. Nevertheless, I would like to encourage Year 12 students to aspire to Scholarship study in 2015, given what we know about your academic ability as a cohort.
2015 has been a truly memorable year. Many of you have participated in the cultural activities, both co-curricula and extra-curricula which have brought the school alive.
A considerable number of you revelled in being members of the cast and production crews of Spamalot, the school production for 2014, which I would described as “farce at its hilarious best.” In particular, the musicians in the school band distinguished themselves by handling the challenging musical score for the production incredibly well. Among a number of other notable TAPAC Dance and Drama productions this year was the wonderfully thought-provoking Fugee brought to us by the Year 12 Drama troupe.
A truly outstanding set of achievements in 2014 has been that of the Nga Puna O Waiorea Kapa Haka group, again winning both the Auckland region Polyfest and Te Ahurea kapa haka competitions, and gaining third place overall at the national competition in Gisborne, where the group placed first in the action song and the haka. Certainly, it has been a personal highlight and a privilege this year to see our students perform with such stunning accomplishment.
Another highlight was the standout performance of the Samoan group at this year’s Fia Fia Night – Lenny Fagamalo distinguished herself as a very able leader of this impressive group.
Congratulations to those of you whose Excellence-level documentaries and films were screened at the Media Studies Film Night at the Hollywood Theatre last Tuesday evening. And not to forget the group who won this year’s Best School Team Award in the 48 Hour Film Challenge – Ben Zambo, Zach Johnson, Matilda Boese-Wong, Jimi Frizzell and from Year 11, Jack Connor.
If you have not already done so, I would like you to view the Level 2 and Level 3 Art portfolios currently on display in the library– you will be impressed and astonished by the creative talent in evidence.
Many of you have represented WSC in one or more of our 60 sports teams entered in Auckland College Sport competitions; a record number of you participated in National Tournament Week last term in football, rugby league, basketball and netball.
Certainly, the most outstanding achievement of the year has been that of Daisy Cleverley in being selected to play for the NZ Football Ferns in a number of internationals which now have her headed for the World Cup in Canada next year.
Staff retention for next year is very high, but we are losing three extremely able teachers who have notified us of their departure. Belinda Wallbank has had an outstanding first year in teaching covering head of Music, Margaret Robertson, while Margaret has been on study leave; Lynfield College is very fortunate indeed to secure Belinda for next year. John Minto and his partner are heading down to Christchurch to live and work; it has been great to have John return to Springs and serve the Mathematics department so very well this year. And after three exceptionally fine years to mark the commencement of his teaching career in our Technology department, Kris Calder, along with his Argentinian partner, is heading to South America.
Finally, best wishes to our students for their NCEA and Scholarship examinations. Push yourselves hard. To the Year 13 students leaving us, you have made a wonderful impact on the quality of school life in your many, many leadership roles working with staff and younger students, and in the many, many ways you have demonstrated your capacity for humanity and for building a better society. Thank you and best wishes for a brilliant future.