South Otago High School News

2023 Newsletter

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9 June, 2023 Newsletter

Kia Ora Tatou
I trust that everyone made the most of the Long Kings Birthday weekend. Sadly, the weather did not play it’s part but I suspect the opportunity to stay home, warm and dry was appreciated by many!
This week, although short, has been busy. On Wednesday we hosted teams for the annual Taireri College interchange. As a change from previous years we trialled allowing students to spectate and support students and promote the school spirit. This worked well and many students enjoyed the opportunity to support the school and their friends in the various sports.
A more detailed report on the interchange will be published elsewhere in this newsletter.
Industrial action
As I have shared previously, the industrial action by teachers is scheduled to continue. This morning the school was notified that of the schedule for rostering home of year groups until the end of the term. The details are as follows:

Each week we shall share with our community the confirmed industrial action and notify individual year groups. Teachers do not want to take this industrial action and as a school we recognise the inconvenience that this causes to both whanau and students. We hope that an agreement can be reached in the near future.

Parent teacher interviews
As stated last week, with the resumption of industrial action we are not able to hold our parent teacher interviews which were scheduled for Thursday 15 June. As a compromise, teachers are going to prepare reports to inform whanau of progress for akonga for the first part of the year. These will be completed by Friday 16 June. Whanau will have the opportunity to raise questions and potentially meet with teachers at a mutually agreeable time. Under the industrial action any meetings must be concluded by 4:30pm
The temperature has certainly dropped this week and whilst most students are wearing the correct uniform there are still one or two bringing non uniform items of clothing, in particular, hoodies and ‘Backroad’ style jerseys. The Board consulted with the community extensively during the last two years and the overwhelming response was to remove the traditional blue, woolen school jersey. The preferred option from this consultation was the blue fleece jersey which a growing number of our students are wearing. Students tell me that it is warm, comfortable and they like wearing it. Students will be asked to remove non uniform items. Repeatedly wearing non uniform items will result in the item being placed in the school office to be collected at the end of the day or by the whanau.
Attendance and truancy
A few weeks ago I shared in this newsletter that we had received a positive response to efforts to improve student attendance. This was a result of highlighting issues with whanau and then working together to ensure that students attended school.
However, our next target group are those students who are recorded as absent for a single lesson during the day. Whilst in some instances this absence may be for a legitimate reason, eg. meeting the Dean, attending a meeting with a support worker etc. We do rely upon the student to explain these intermittent absences. The school provides six school days to provide an explanation. If no reason for the absence is required the student is regarded as truant. Three incidents of truancy like this will result in an after school detention.
Regular attendance in school and classes support good learning and reduces the gaps in a child’s knowledge and has a direct influence on a students future success. The support of whanau to maintain positive attendance is vital.
South Otago Attendance Service
The Attendance Service has been busy in the first half of the year and we are seeing positive results of the Attendance Advisors work. Recently I heard of a student with an attendance rate below 30% who, after engaging with the Attendance Advisor, has turned round their attendance to 100% since working with the whanau. This is a huge change and would not be possible without the collaboration between the school, the student and whanau.
This highlights the positive way in which South Otago Attendance Service aims to work alongside whanau and the student to improve student attendance.
This week I was approached for comment about why the NCEA results in Otago were better than other regions in New Zealand. After talking with other principals they confirmed my thinking as to why this may be. The three bullet points are:

  • Teachers, they care about our students, they work hard to support them to achieve and have helped so many of our learners overcome the challenges and gaps in their knowledge as a result of the pandemic. The teachers at South Otago High School want to see your child succeed and will support them to achieve their full potential.
  • Schools working with whanau to ensure that akonga are clear about their pathway and how they will get there. This also includes supporting when things do not go to plan to make sure that students achieve their goals.
  • Support from our communities to assist students and looking at diverse pathways to enable students to succeed and remain engaged.

I consider students at South Otago High School very fortunate to have the support of dedicated teachers, whanau that want the best for them and a community that stands behind and supports them.
Have a good weekend.
Ka kite ano

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