Tuesday, December 14, 2010

End of year speech

One famous speech began with “I have a dream”
well this is not so famous but begins with “we had a dream”

We said that we wanted to raise academic achievement across the school in 2010
we did !
We said we wanted to provide opportunities for our students outside of the classroom in 2010
we did !
We said we wanted to provide children with greater ICT opportunities in 2010
we did !

If you have seen the opportunities our children have had this year then you will know we, with your support are providing some wonderful opportunities for our children to shine.
We have not just focussed on the classical academic side of education, we have looked at cultural and sporting sides of education as not everyone has classical strengths.
A greater focus on Inquiry learning has given our students a greater control over their own learning.

For many of the children the learning is not in the finished product but in the process or journey they take getting to the final product. With many of the outcomes the conversations problem solving and negotiating around getting a consensus for the project.

Tracking the conversations is always hard but if you sit in and observe these you will hear the rich discussions that take place.

All these positive outcomes only take place because of a large number of people.
There are the children prepared to take a risk and prepared to commit to their learning.

There are the Parents who teach more to their children through their day to day dealings than we ever could in the short time they are exposed to us.

There is the Board of Trustees who read the information we provide and help set the strategic direction for the years to come.

There is the PTA who through fundraising and parental support have reached a new level in their commitment and organization in providing a varied set of resources.

The Teacher Aides who provide the coal face support for our students and teachers doing jobs well beyond the call of duty.

The Admin staff who provide the shop window and all the answers to parents on arrival and in the day to day running of the school.

The groundsman who has arrived with a great amount of new ideas to improve the way the grounds look.

The teachers though, through it all, provide the programmes and the graft into which our children get submerged.
They are the glue really that holds it all together.
If you think about it, all teachers have been able to provide something outside their classroom delivery that has added to the fabric of this school community.

Some are involved in sports organisation channelling
Some in curriculum development
Some in clean green living
Some in developing ICT
Some providing musical and debating opportunities
All areas of the curriculum and beyond are covered.
Our teachers work extremely hard for your children all 184 of them. They cant do the best job they can without your support/ the support of the students/the PTA /the Board the teacher aides the admin staff/Gary and me, the principal. They work long hours to put the programmes in place.
They are teachers ,mentors ,first aiders, coaches, computer whizzes , counsellers ,peace negotiators, toilet trainers, advocates and friends.
Their job is huge ,it is ever changing, it is dynamic and most of the time thankless.
I would like to thank the team we have here at Ashley for all the work they have provided for your children this year.
We are constantly in a pattern of change and for teachers to remain as sane as they are, well mostly ,it is amazing they stick with it.

We have staff leaving us this year. Lynne,Kerri, Juanita and Sandi. They have all contributed to our school in their time with us and I hope they are richer for the experience of being a part of the Ashley school community.

There are families who have been a part of the Ashley School family for a long time leaving as well. They will be heading to the high school education system or other primary schools. I hope you feel the same way as our guest speaker the other night.James Tapper said he realised how much he enjoyed and appreciated Ashley School after he had gone. I hope you all look back on your experiences with us and remember your time with us with fondness.

The year 8s who are heading off to high school, many of them have been with us from the age of 5, I wish you all the best. The other night at your dinner I asked you to never give up. Never give up on dreams, never give up on people, never give up the fight. I think too often we forget this.
Our year 8 group have contributed so much to our school this year and over the entire year. They are a group of children who have set the tone for the school and have lead the way in learning and in achievements on many fronts,sporting and cultural.
They have been real ambassadors for our school the have exhibited all the REACH values time and time again.
I want to thank them and wish them all the best for the future.

And to the future?
We often talk of preparing children for a future that doesn’t exist.
How do we do that how do we prepare children for such dynamic, uncertain times.
That is our role in conjunction with all you to work out!
You see school has changed since we were at school. We don’t need to know a lot of the traditional stuff cos we can simply google it!
Get used to it!
It is gonna keep changing developing and if you fight it your children will blow right past you. How many of you could create an animation and turn it into a movie.
Not many I would suggest but your children are getting these opportunity to learn these skills.
Yes the basic are still required but not to the same extent that they did when I was attending school.

The Board as part of their strategic plan wish to promote our vision for our children

Our vision is to be a positive learning community that builds on quality relationships and developing inquiring minds. Learners will feel valued and safe to explore opportunities with confidence, and be passionate about their learning in readiness for the future challenges.

We will continue to promote the use of ICTs across the school as well as set our usual targets in Reading, Writing and Maths and we will aim high again.
When close to 90% of the school are achieving Reading targets and 85% of the school achieving Maths targets it shows we are getting the results we want. Like all teachers though we need to focus on raising the bar again.

Congratulations to all those who have won awards you all deserve the accolades that you receive.

To everyone who has supported the Ashley School community in such a positive way this year I thank you.The hardest thing in writing this speech was, as I started to name people, I then realised how easily I could miss someone. People get involved with schools to support their children,they do it to create a better pathway for their children one better than their own and working together that’s exactly what we do.

To all the families of Ashley school I wish you an amazing Christmas and a safe and exciting new year.
Thank you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Being the son of a Coal miner from the Buller, I can relate with the goings on in Greymouth over the last few days.It was a while since my father had worked underground when I came around. However there was always the feeling that a community has sending loved ones away to work in a dangerous occupation always was around while I was growing up.
After playing rugby and teaching in Grey someone I know could be down that mine. What do you tell a family waiting for their loved one to come home?
My heart goes out tot he families affected by this tragedy. We just never know what is around the corner .

Monday, November 8, 2010

Definition of a good school

This morning on road patrol I watched a year 8 boy run yes run to get into school. If that isnt a definition of a good school I don't know what is. Normally at this time of year these guys are typically over school. It was a bit of a warm fuzzy to see this happening. I know, a drowning man will clutch at straw, but this was cool.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The way forward

How do we know what works for our kids, I mean we have all sat in a class, we know eh! We all sat in lines and were told to focus front. Repeat after me seven 8s are 56
I, before e, except after c.
Do you remember, it still happens in classes but people and the times they are a changing.
I heard a parent say the other that she wasn’t happy because we weren’t preparing kids for High School. I would like to look at the bigger picture, I reckon we are preparing kids for life.
Oh but to get on in life you have to do well at high school, go to university, get a degree, start at the bottom of the ladder work hard, get to the top.
Do you?
We live in such changing time, ipods , ipads , iphones, instant knowledge. The need to study knowledge for a time that we may need it in the future doesn’t exist any more. That’s right, how often have you used the stuff you learned in high school.
So with all this knowledge at hand what skills should we be teaching our future generations? Good question, what do we teach a generation that has more knowledge at their fingertips than ever before. What do you think? Should we continue to teach children the same way we taught children in the 70s, the way we were taught, cos it worked for us right?
If you know the answers to these questions I would like you to tell me! You could also tell our Ministry of Education and our government they don’t seem to know either.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just a thought!!

I saw something that saddened me yesterday!
I was walking past a playground and there was a mum with her two children probably 4 and 2. The children were having a ball as they ran screaming around the equipment. The eldest child tried time and time again to engage his mother firstly in the game then in what he was doing then what his brother was doing and then in conversation. Mum didn’t move! You see what was on the ipod was more interesting than being involved with her kids. Some of you may be saying well that’s what I would do , or we don’t know the full story. She may be struggling and that’s her time out. That may be right but it did get me thinking. We have all been guilty of it!
Placing televisions in other rooms, computers in the children’s rooms creating opportunities to shut the children out of our lives. Sad really how do we get these children to develop social skills that are demanded in society if they are shut away.

Do you know, or care what they are doing in the other room?

Friday, September 24, 2010

End of term Cometh!

We have reached the end of the term safely. Well sort of.
I would like to take the time to thank all the volunteers who have contributed so much to the running of our school. With the ever increasing work load on teachers there is a number of extra curricular areas that wouldn't survive without these people. These are the coaches and managers the members of the PTA who contribute to the way the school functions. I cannot emphasise enough the help these people provide for us.
The teachers at this school are wonderful. I asked a senior member of staff the other day why are school children were so wonderful to work with. It is hard to put a finger on but I believe the staff all share the same old school values!
Our Reach values say it all this is exactly what our teachers believe in.
I am looking forward to term 4.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Post Quake

We all have our stories of where we were and what happened and a great deal of the recovery is sharing those stories.
It was great to see the children back in the grounds that have been so empty over the last week. Staff have been briefed and given up to date information from Civil Defence on how to best deal with a quake in the classroom. There is a large amount of misinformation out there in the community at the moment.

I understand if parents are unsure of leaving their children with teachers if their children are traumatised by the recent events. There are a couple of things we need to ask.

We ask that there are no children in the school grounds before 8.30 in
the morning for the next fortnight. There is no supervision in the event of an

If your child has displayed signs of trauma then please contact or
speak to the classroom teacher so that we can be sure to keep an extra eye
out for them. We have contacts that we can make to get further help for
children who require it.

In the event of a very large aftershock, which may have caused damage
to buildings, we ask that you collect your children as soon as possible. We
will not be in the position to phone everyone. In such a situation we will
wait with the children on the main field.

Please ensure that all contact details are up to date.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomorrows Schools.

Schools have a lot to thank for when they get supportive parents. We are lucky to have a group of parents at our school who are constantly helping our school grow in opportunities.We also have a teachers who give of their own personal time to create opportunities to help our children grow.

Board Input

The Ashley School Board of trustees are wanting to know more about these National Standard things. They have organised a gathering to get Bards to ask the big questions of the MOE. What a proactive thing to do!
I think for some Boards the idea of talking to the MOE about National Standards and the direction education is heading is incredibly switched on.
There was not a great deal of consultation involved in the setting up of National Standards to start with.
Good on you all for taking such a positive stance.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Latest Newsletter

This Tuesday saw our 15 Stars go to work with their new teacher. The week has flown by and its like they have never been anywhere else. How quickly they grow up and leave the nest.
Growing up was a point of discussion at the BOT meeting last night in many ways.
The growth of the school was talked about and the property plans for the future. The school roll has grown to 180 and with a few more to come we need to plan for the future.
Growing our teachers was also discussed and the professional development plans for the future as well. It was a very productive meeting and look forward to the progress this very active Board is encouraging.

On a big sporting note we have a number of girls involved in netball finals this week. There are two Ashley club teams in the Primary finals. Primary 1 has;
• Briar Fowler
• Laura Kevern
• Paige Robinson
• Stefanie Tallentire (Court 1 at 12 o’clock)
While Primary 4 has;
• Maddison Robinson
• Loghann Gardiner
• Una Skerten (Court 11 at 9)
All these girls have worked extremely hard to get to where they are this season and we wish them all the best for their finals. Get along and support them if you can.

On Saturday the Ashley Rugby Club had their prize giving and a large number of Ashley School boys won awards for their teams.

James Mullan (most deserving)
Luke Higinbottom (most deserving), Sam Wilson (best tackler)
Tom Loughnan (most deserving), Dawson Payne (most improved).

At the Saracens Club, two Ashley Boys took their teams top awards with Jake Pascoe in the under 7s and Paddy Skerten in the Under 8s. Well done guys great effort!

For most families now this means the end of a long winter season,(was it wetter than normal?) However for the Couch family it has been extended by another 9 games as Todd has been selected to represent Canterbury Country. Congratulations to Todd who has worked hard to achieve this goal. This team is selected from all the primary schools and clubs from Ellesmere and North Canterbury and will play in a number of tournaments culminating with the South Island tournament in Christchurch. Players to play in this tournament before have been Andrew Merthens, Steve Brett and Mark Hammett to name a few.

A sport dominated newsletter me thinks! Although sport is a great analogy on life isn’t it. By working hard you can achieve your goals. It teaches you to cope when things don’t go all your way, it teaches you to compromise with other team members who you don’t get on with. Sport teaches you that even if you play your heart out you may not get player of the day and you may not get the team you want but its about the climb( Thanks Miley Cyrus), or the journey that makes you the person you are. It teaches us to deal with the failures that life will through at us, we all want to be winners but we cant be, its how we go on after a loss that defines us as people.

Monday, August 9, 2010

National standards

A friend of mine has used the analogy of a running race to describe how he believes Nationals Standards will appear for families. As he pretends to be a sporty type he has used the running race to describe this.
Imagine a race….

There is a start line but because of timing and a range of circumstances some of the racers have broken the start and have a significant lead, some are right on the line, some are behind and some well behind- none the less the race starts-sound fair?- too bad, the race is on it is 8000 metres, after every thousand metres the races are placed, a megaphone screams out their place "1st, 2nd, 3rd... last!" Some of the very slow runners actually started disadvantaged, they came in late, they had never run a race before, bottom line is they are slower runners than the first few who incidentally had run plenty of races, were well nourished, had water stops along the way, knew how to use their energy (and prior knowledge) well.
As you can imagine as the race goes on the gaps widen (how could it not?)- Coaches are allowed on the track- they do their best with every runner, those in the lead can listen, interpret and apply the new learning’s from the coach easily and use this to go even faster- those at the back are struggling with the concept of running full stop, they feel overwhelmed, they are falling further behind- and at every 1000 meters they are reminded just how far behind they are.
The race goes on, for the front-runners the finish line is in sight -as the tail-enders pass 4000 metres, by 6000 meters after constant reminders of their position in the field only the incredibly resilient of the slower runners continue.
The coaches of those who had a head start and came nourished and "pre race ready" are being publicly applauded, the winners are proud of their achievement.
The coaches of those who came to the race unprepared and well behind the start line are in for public ridicule and their jobs re at risk- why couldn't they "fix up" these runners and get them to catch up? Perhaps shouting their position louder would have helped (this is suggested by the race organisers for the future) also how about those slow runners have a wee i-pod type devise that allows them to know more regularly where they are in the race, they could also set smaller goals to help them catch up- won't this motivate them to run faster and also help the coach to do a better job?
Oh by the way when the event started none of the contestants knew it was a race- they thought it was a Fun Run, to enjoy the stunning scenery, the friendship, an opportunity to learn more about the track, the event, the joy of running- they only found out about the race after 999 meters.
Consider national standards...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Key Competencies

The New Zealand Curriculum identifies five key competencies:
using language, symbols, and texts
managing self
relating to others
participating and contributing
People use these competencies to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities. More complex than skills, the competencies draw also on knowledge, attitudes, and values in ways that lead to action. They are not separate or stand-alone. They are the key to learning in every learning area.
The development of the competencies is both an end in itself (a goal) and the means by which other ends are achieved. Successful learners make use of the competencies in combination with all the other resources available to them. These include personal goals, other people, community knowledge and values, cultural tools (language, symbols, and texts), and the knowledge and skills found in different learning areas. As they develop the competencies, successful learners are also motivated to use them, recognising when and how to do so and why.
Opportunities to develop the competencies occur in social contexts. People adopt and adapt practices that they see used and valued by those closest to them, and they make these practices part of their own identity and expertise.
The competencies continue to develop over time, shaped by interactions with people, places, ideas, and things. Students need to be challenged and supported to develop them in contexts that are increasingly wide-ranging and complex. (Ministry of Education, 2007)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wearable Arts

What an amazing event the Wearable Arts evening was.

It was great to see the large venue packed out with people who had come to celebrate the talents of their children.

Words are really not enough to say thanks to all those people who gave of their time to create this memorable event. From the students who were the stars to the people behind the scenes it was a triumph of a community working together to create an experience that these children will remember forever. I am so proud of this school and what we can achieve when we dream “BIG”. "You can achieve anything in life you set your mind to, provided it is powered by your heart"

We must model this to our children, they must know that wonderful things will happen when they dream big.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fun and Games

Well it has been a while but through some medical adventure I have had a few days off work. The thing I have found in my time away is how important lines of communication are. You see last year I was in the habit of not keeping people up to speed with my ideas, movements etc.
I understand that not getting these messages across caused confusion and often lead to mistrust.
This year I have communicated my butt off,.
I have even let the guinea pigs at my house know what I am up to!
Communication has to be both ways so when one party is attempting to get a message point across there has to be a listener. I have learnt that a listener must be prepared to give up their time and give there full attention.
I was never that great at it but am working on it. It is the most important part of my job.
My advice to anyone out there in leadership land. Listen! and when you do give the talker your full attention.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wearable Arts

I have had a discussion with parents today. Its good to hear a parents point of view and it opened my eyes a bit. How much do are parents know about the curriculum? How much have we informed them about and how much are they taking on.
The curriculum isn't just Maths and Literacy it is the Arts as well and when worked properly the entire curriculum can be worked around an arts topic. Reading writing maths can all be a part of our wearable arts it can also be a product for introducing all the key competencies.
Isn't problem solving an important part of day today life. Our students our children have experienced all this in the last 10 weeks.
The support from the community has been vital and extremely positive. I applaud all the support you have provided for us and I am looking forward to it all coming together on the night.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson

Organic versus manufacturing. I like it! What are we doing by creating clones or robots but only sterilising a wonderfully diverse gene pool. Schools need to be vibrant and different! It's what I love about my job. No day is the same, the relationships with children, parents and teachers see to that.
I don't want to work in a school where everyone is trying to be the same.
Every year 4 is different so how the hell can there be a set standard.
Oops I said hell.
Luke Sumich would be proud.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Watch this video

Does this ring true with where we could be heading?

School Closure.

Having to announce yesterday that the school was closing at the start of the poetry competition was a bit freaky. Operating on the advice of the road engineers a call had to be made. I would do it different next time. get the kids to go back to class with there teachers in a more orderly fashion would be a start. I was nearly knocked down by a Nana who was very determined to beat the children out the door.
You forget that an event like this is going to have differing effects on the children. Some were over the moon and some were a wee bit frightened.
Note to oneself. Must taper the way I deliver messages to the school.
That's the 3rd time we have had to close the school since I have been here,flood,snow still waiting on fire and pestilence.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Okay so I am a doctor today. I have my case list in front of me of what to expect I am trained and ready to go. First appointment is at 8.30 I wait in my office reading the notes.
This patient has ingrown toenails,appendicitis,mumps,rubella, gout,broken arm,ruptured Achilles tendon,broken nose and eczema. Oh thank goodness it is not one patient but 9, that's much better but I am seeing them all at once!!!
Such is the lot of the teacher. 9 is the size of a reading group, you would hope it was smaller but even within that group even if we place them as close together as we can in ability there are still differences. This is why I don't get national standards you see we are being informed that there is a year 4 or 5 or 1 standard of work. How can that be when all children experience different things and come to school with varying degrees of knowledge. In fact some children aren't ready for school until they turn six, I hate to be stereo typed but its mostly boys.
It sound over the top but when we are only just starting to receive any professional development as teachers now, how are we going to help our communities solve this National standards dilemma if we are not informed ourselves. Would you trust a surgeon who is reading a how to do book on vasectomies as you are lying on the bed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Winter is here!

Its dark and I am in my office . It is hard to believe it is nearly 8 but with all the rain we have had all night it is definitely winter. Poetry trials all week in class so there will be some nervous children out there and some who developed anew strain of anti school illness. i wonder what impact this weather will have on behaviour as this is the first real wet day. With that in mind i am sure we will find out today what the plan is if the Cross country is postponed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Board of Trustees

Congratulations to the newly elected Board.
Pamela Simpson
Tim Loughnan
Andrew Penny
Andy Leslie
Jason Gardiner
Gill Robinson

Thanks to everyone who put their names forward as this is a huge commitment for all the children of Ashley School.

Cross Country.

What a great turn out on such a wonderful day.
There have to be some positives from Global Warming?
Our children, all of them, did themselves proud. It is for some, a long way around that track, and to see the look of pride when they crossed the finish line was just great. Well done all of you will look to post some photos in the next couple of days to this blog maybe even video if it gets edited quickly.

Coffee Morning part 3.33'

It happened!!
I had a guest to listen to my ramblings and she couldn't get away. So I will hope for a 100% improvement next week and aim for 2 people. it was pointed out though that many people are involved in the WOW and are helping the children so I will suck it up and get over the lack of turn out.

Thanks to my one fan.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coffee Morning Part 3

Well with heart in my hands I head to another coffee morning. This morning no subject well probably the last two that haven't been used. Must use the Pike Fish Market as a reference for everything I do. Give up the safe stuff and believe in the direction I wish to head with everyone at work. Get my parents involved and have fun with the children.
Gotta get moving create the tone!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Coffee Morning

Another Principals Coffee morning another no show from community what to do, what to do? Can anyone who wants to comment on what I should do to get parents to these community consultation mornings that are vital to keep that link between school and community. PLEASE!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


No bruising but three outstanding wins at the Golden Oldies tournament on Sunday. As the amber liquid flowed at the after match, there was lots of “The older I get the better I was,” to quote a phrase.

Well wearable arts is starting to take shape and the classrooms are full of interesting looking donations of stuff and there are also a large number of bemused parents asking the teachers, what do I need to do?
By now the design phase should be well in advance or over and the children will be constructing their piece of Art. I must have been out of my mind to agree to this. When Gill, Lyn and Glenda returned from Wellington last year we never knew just how big this would grow. Thanks to all the community who are getting in behind us and supporting the project. If you can’t get down here during the day to support your kids the best way is to show up on the night. We are finalising costs and we will have the ticket prices out soon. There will be limited numbers so as soon as they are available we will release them.
Lets all make this a night to remember.

On Monday staff gathered to examine the way we assess our children’s writing. It was interesting to se how much we all focus on just the surface features of a piece of writing like spelling and punctuation. These are both very important (I wish my teacher had spent a bit longer on me with them) but only a part of the writing package. We will be looking at the impact of the piece, the ideas and the use of sentences starters and endings. Over the next few months we will be reviewing our writing starting from the junior school right through. It was and will be a big task but one that was definitely needed.

I spoke to Linda and Pip this morning about teacher development, maybe not a riveting topic for all of you but it has lead me to re-think a number of things. With the new Board soon to be elected, and please don’t forget this Friday is the cut off, we need to be educating our staff as we educate our students. You don’t simply walk out of University and know everything! We want to make our teachers the best and that means a commitment from them to get better and for the school to provide opportunities to follow that path. If our children a the future then educating all the people guiding them to that future would seem to be important.

The weather is like ground hog day and I know that a few showers are on the wish list, I don’t mind as long as they are at night and they can be after Wearable Arts on the 18th of June.

The School Council is planning a “Wheels day” on a future date please keep a watch on the newsletter for more details.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy playing taxi to all those children who need to attend events all the way across Canterbury. To all the Mums have a very restful day on Sunday. Put your feet up and get someone else to cook if you can.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coffee Morning

My first coffee morning with the parents has come and gone. As Forrest Gump once said, "and thats all I have to say about that!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What a positive day on Monday it was for our team of debaters. We argued the negative of the moot” that New Zealand is the best country in the world!” A tough one when you love your country We took on Leithfield School and through the guidence of Jennifer Goulding, Simone Mullan and Kay McLauchlan the team of Celine, Gabrielle and Kurt triumphed by 7 points. What a great result!

Recently we had a chance to get back some books from a family who had left our school a while ago. It highlighted how generous we are as a school as the number of books returned exceeded 100!!!!
We decided as a staff it would be time to get the word out that we do need our books back. If you have any books out there, no questions asked, we would like them back. Please check your bookshelves, check under the sofa cushions, check under the kitchen sink and check beside the toilet, we need them back!!

Today I had the first Principals coffee morning and when writing this I still hadn’t actually held the meeting. It was about assessing writing in the classroom. I hope I went well, nest we will be consulting with the community on Health Curriculum and Sexuality Education. Now that should get a few of you along! Staffroom at 9 see you all there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Board Elections.

Great News! For the first time in as long as I can remember there is going to be a Board Election. We have had such a positive response to nominations that we now have to hold an election.
Tonight it is the final meeting for the current Board. It is amazing the amount of volunteer hours they have given up over their time with the Board of Trustees, I would really hate to try to add it all up.
Congratulations to all the nominees for putting their names forward and thanks to all the retiring Board members for outstanding service to the students and the community.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Welcome back to term two where are focus is Wearable Arts. Already there has been considerable debate in the staffroom and, from what I gather, in the playground about what is the definition of wearable arts. The definition is a piece of art that is worn. It is not a costume - it is art. Right got that out, good! This is also a school task where we get to witness the process, its not home learning. We will be asking for heaps of help so don’t fret, we want you in helping our kids.

Speaking of home learning, we have our draft voluntary home learning ready for the children next week. This, please remember, is for the students to develop their own love of learning and shouldn’t be forced upon them. I know a number of you are keen on doing homework, that’s great, you can do some for yourself but your children can opt into our programme.
There are 6 different levels that the students can try. The children need to discuss their options with their teachers and work through a conference on what to do.

I would like to extend a big welcome to all the new families that have started their learning journey with us at Ashley School. Mrs Robinson’s class has gone to 19 from 15 in a very short time. The school looks like it will continue to grow at this rate for the year.

Thanks to Todd Starkey, Rudi Steyn and Juliet Farrant who put together a wonderful frame for our raised gardens. Saw a couple of parents down at school today putting in some fill too. It’s great to see all the community support we have had for this project. It wont be too long until we see our first vegetables.

With the sun on our backs we got to have our annual ANZAC service. Mr Fred McKenzie, a veteran from the conflict in Vietnam, spoke to the children and fielded a whole raft of questions from the children about the meaning of ANZAC to hearing aides, through to Flying Boats. It was wonderful to host our guests from the Rangiora R.S.A again and continue on the school tradition of remember those who sacrificed so much to defend our freedom.

I am starting my coffee mornings next Thursday from 9am in the staffroom. We will look into what we are looking for in a students’ piece of writing when we assess it. I will look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I was speaking recently of Confident, Connected, Actively Involved and Life Long Learners, I witnessed a whole lot of Ashley kids participating in theatre sports and dance with the Dale Hartley School.
Congratulations to Grace and Kitty who were in the winning intermediate team and to Celine, Liz and Olivia who all took part.
It was a great night with a cast of wonderfully talented children.
Congratulations to Jacob Pepper-Edwards who won the top prize for Chocolate sales across the entire school. Jacob sold a total of 19 boxes. A massive effort from Jacob and family and this effort has earned him a brand new bike!! Totals are still to be decided on as far as money goes. Boxes are still coming in and so is the money so we are not sure about the total we have raised.
I am sure we will have at total in the new term.
On Friday night we had our school disco. What a night!! The feedback from all the children has been wonderful.In the New Zealand Curriculum its vision to is to create Confident,Connected, Actively Involved, Lifelong learners. The way the students organised the school disco in conjunction with our wonderful PTA , was all of the things we want for all our Ashley kids.They organised tickets, the posters the sound system and the music they were also our D.J.s for the night.
This is learning the way we want our children at Ashley school to learn.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Learning needs to be focussed so much more on the individual than ever before.The work place and the world is changing so much that we have to prepare our children to be flexible and let them have the ability to solve problems.I look at the way we are still delivering the curriculum and it is so much easier to do one size fits all. But if we true to our profession and honestly believe that we are here for the children then are focus would be on the individual. Good teaching ,like good parenting is harder than the alternative. WE need to read more about our work and find out what is the best practice and how to achieve the best for our kids.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thanks families for the support you gave us yesterday so we could attend a professional development session at Rangiora Borough, Guest Speaker was Derek Wenmouth he is the Director of e-learning at CORE education.
The role allows him to be involved in a wide range of e-learning activities from exploring innovative use of the latest technologies and researching e-learning practices, to helping establish policy and strategies to guide the implementation of e-learning, both nationally and overseas. He spoke of preparing our children for a future that doesn’t even exist yet.
Very wow!
Congrats to Mr Lynskey who also wowed the crowd with his links to digital resources.

I spoke to some year 8 students yesterday who are planning their own learning adventure. There has been such a lot of learning to get them to the stage of writing out the permission slips and organizing parental support. Ringing the airport to obtain the permission for the visit is a skill they will have for the rest of their lives. The general planning skills these kids have are amazing. They must keep asking themselves why they are doing what they are doing and how it will add value to their learning.

As the Touch season has finished and the Basketball and Football seasons wind up it is time to thank the coaches and managers who have given up their time to do what they do. It has been a great opportunity this term to experience a whole range of other school-based activities. I would also like to thank Linda for all the organization of these activities. It is always a tough job as everybody has an opinion of how things should be done. Thank you for all that you have done to improve our students learning opportunities.

Disco Friday night, the juniors (Yrs 1-4) are from 5.30 to 7pm and then the seniors (Yrs 5-8) from 7.15 to 9.00pm.Thanks to the great team effort from the school council and the PTA.I know the children are excited and looking forward to their night.

Have a great weekend and for a burst of inspiration you should try out www.rattleyadags.co.nz

Oh and thanks to my avid groups of followers all two of you:0)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Today I spent the day with 4 innovative, forward thinking principals. They are all trying different things in the schools they work in to improve the learning for the student. There's so much going on in schools it is hard to scratch the service of what is the real picture. What is the real picture you ask. It is what is real learning? What is real teaching? Are we doing it and if we are not doing it then how do we?
How do we get better at teaching? How do we provide opportunities for our children to learn in ways. We must move away from one size fits all our children, it just doesn't work that way anymore.
We need to concentrate on one thing at a time. For us it is inquiry learning. Getting in to the best way to deliver inquiry to our children.
We really need to unpack the way we deliver the learning ,how does it empower our learners.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Sunday we had 14 students from Ashley take part in the Weetbix Tryathlon. Well done to all the students and also to the families who got along to support their children. Great work Maddison, Loghann, Rachael, Yasmin, Emily, Sophie, Nicole, Danielle, Paige, Gabrielle, Maria, Molly-Kate James and Elizabeth.

What a night for touch!
Congratulations to the Ashley Awesomes, who won the final of the Grade 1 Touch competition 3 to 1.This team made up of Aleisha and Jakob Pascoe, Ben and Luke Higinbottom, Matt Couch, Quinn Beynon, Jessie Kelland, Callum Simpson, Olivia Norton, James Mullan and Joshua Neilsen. Well done guys we are really, really proud of you. Thanks to all the supporters who have helped them all year.

I have just got back from a really wonderful experience visiting a school in Wellington Island Bay School. I wasn’t alone I had with me the rest of the school management team. It wasn’t the rooms or fittings or uniform that made this school it was the relationship between the children, the teachers, the parents and the key to it all the learning. The learning we witnessed was real and authentic. It wasn’t outcomes based, outcomes were important but it focused on the process or the journey the students took to get to this outcome.
The New Curriculum wants teachers to use four big ideas that underpin best practice and hone the teacher’s ability to engage students:
pedagogy (the study of being a teacher)
student voice, and
learning environment.
The teacher’s job is to develop inventiveness, curiosity as well as delivering ‘the daily bread’ of curriculum.
We witnessed all this at Island Bay.

Coffee Morning
I would like to put aside some time on a Thursday morning, next term, to have a cup of tea or coffee in the staffroom at 9.00am with anyone who chooses to join me. If you are free and want to have an informal chat, do come and join me. Children are welcome.

Board of Trustee Meeting
Whilst all Board meetings are open to the public, the Board of Trustees would like to extend a special welcome to any person who is currently considering nomination for a position on the Board of Trustees. Our next Board meeting will be held in the Ashley School staffroom, 23.March 2010.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Our Fund raising extravaganza for 2010 is our Wearable Arts Show. It will be held June 11th so grab your calendars right now and mark them. It will be the arts highlight of North Canterbury for the year.
All children will be involved and the creating of Garments will begin week one of term 2.
It would help if you could collect and send to school suitable items that could be used by our children e.g. feathers, wrapping paper, fabrics etc. That would be fantastic!

Teachers have had a small number of requests for extra homework. AS a staff we have decided that we will not be providing this for home. If you do have a child that does request more homework then there are a number of books that can be purchased that will provided lists of basic facts if that is what you need. As Reading is a priority we really encourage you to read to your kids sit by your kids while they are reading and Reading with them.
There is so much you can do with your child to help them learn with out the need to sit a desk all night in front of a pile of books.
On March the 24th school will be closing early. We are all attending a seminar based at Rangiora Borough School as a part of our ICT cluster professional development. Thank you for your understanding.

What a night a touch last night! It was successful for nearly all our teams with the All Stars getting their first win through a powerful team effort. Every player contributed to the teams’ success and to see Olive score her try was just great. The All Sorts had a run away win with 7 tries to none. The Stormers had a 5 tries to two win with Moriah getting two. A wonderful team effort and tries to Sam and Jamie, Player of the Day, Sage eased the pain of a 8 to 2 loss for the Anaconda’s. The Awesomes played a tough game and made it through to the final on the back of a great team try and some hard out defence from everyone but especially Callum, Quinn and Jessie.

Today some of our senior students are taking part in the Bluelight Police Competency Test. It involves doing all the things the police have to do to prove their fitness. The students attack the course and compete against the clock and other teams from Canterbury. Last year we did extremely, but that was last year. I know that we continue to maintain our high standard of teamwork and competitiveness.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This morning we have a senior staff meeting. There are a number of things on the agenda but the most important is to get our few parents who want more and more homework for their children to understand we will not be supplying busy work. That is ,work just to fill in time for them. There are a number of outlets book stores etc that can be used to get lists of spelling or basic facts if that is what they, the parents want.
I can see this being a bit of a bumpy ride for a while.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I will try my first Post this morning. I have spent ages attempting to log in and now that I am in I am out of inspiration. Oh Damn!!

About Me

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Rangiora, Canterbury, New Zealand
I have been Principal of Ashley School since 2002 and I am still learning my job.I am married with 3 children. I have a love of educating children to the best of their potential. I enjoy Rowan Atkinson, Ricky Gervais, cycling and all other sports.