South Otago High School News

2023 Newsletter

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16 June 2023 Newsletter

Kia Ora Tatou
To start today I do recognise the uncertainty for both whanau and students with regards to the ongoing industrial action and the potential impacts upon student learning. On Tuesday in the school assembly I raised this with students and I share the same information now with our community.
This morning I want to acknowledge the absence and potential disruption of year groups being rostered home for the remainder of this term. I appreciate those amongst you who are conscientious and striving for excellence and those of you who may be at risk of not achieving that you will be feeling upset or frustrated by these events.

Whilst teachers here do not want to strike and many have told me that they would rather have you in their classrooms working, all PPTA members are bound by the collective effort of the union to negotiate a claim. Whilst the media would portray this as largely about pay the more fundamental issue is of ensuring that we are able to recruit and retain teachers into the profession. Nationally it is becoming very challenging to find teachers to fill vacancies and South Otago High School is no different in facing that challenge.

For those students that are wanting to achieve either as they are working towards excellence or they know that their achievement is at risk then please make sure that you speak to your teachers and continue to work independently at home on the days you are rostered home.

A day rostered home should not be seen as a day off or an opportunity to go and do paid work.

The ability to self manage your learning and develop the mindset of being independent learners is going to be of great assistance as you move from the structure of school to further study or an apprenticeship where your employer or lecturer will expect you to complete some units of work in your own time. This is a great opportunity to learn some of those self management skills now with the ‘safety net’ of school to support you.

I finished the assembly with:
It is this school spirit and cooperation that makes South Otago High School a place people want to work and you the students have the opportunities to participate in so many activities and achieve academically.

This final statement is very true for South Otago High School. We are fortunate to have teachers who care for their students, want to see them succeed, will go ‘the extra mile’ to provide both curriculum and extra curricular activities and genuinely enjoy working with young people.
Please do recognise what our teachers offer your children.

Pride week
This week we have celebrated diversity and it was great to see so many students arrive at school on Wednesday dressed in their brightest clothes and supportive to our LGBTQI+ community. As a non-uniform day we did ask that students donate a can for the foodbank as opposed to a gold coin donation. These contributions have now been passed on to the Balclutha Foodbank for distribution. Thankyou to the staff, students and whanau who supported this initiative.

Manu Korero Speech Competition
On Thursday a number of students travelled to Dunedin to participate in the Manu Korero Speech competition. Jorja Andrews won her section of the competition and will now be competing in the national competition to be held later this year. This is a significant achievement and we are extremely proud of Joja’s achievement. We wish her well for the national event.

Science and Otago University.
This week we had a large group of Year 13 students who attended Otago University to complete a chemistry assignment on Monday and Tuesday. This is an invaluable opportunity for our students to undertake science experiments in University facilities and have an insight into what tertiary study may be like.
The previous week I attended a presentation by two year 10 students who had undertaken science experiments at the Otago University Portobello Marine Research facility. The two students were Rylan McCabe and Sam Wright.
Both of these opportunities were supported by Otago University graduates and provided an opportunity for our students to learn a little about tertiary study from the graduates,
Thanks to Ms Bir for organising and providing these opportunities to students.

Taking students out of school
Parents and whanau may on occasion need to take students out of school for appointments or specific events. The school is not able to release students into the care of anyone other than the caregiver who we have listed on file without the express permission of the registered caregiver.
If you have a family member of friend who is picking up your child please contact the school absence line prior to the expected departure or provide a signed permission slip for the child to present to the attendance office.
Whanau who intend taking students out of school for holidays or to visit family overseas should write to the principal ‘requesting permission’ well in advance of the departure date. This allows time for teachers to prepare in advance for any missed assessments or important teaching.
Industrial action
Sadly this industrial action is continuing and does mean that selected year groups are not able to be catered for on the school site the current schedule until the end of the term is set out below

I expect to be able to inform the community of any future industrial action expected for term3 before the end of this term.
Paid Union Meeting
In addition to the industrial action there is to be a paid union meeting on Tuesday 27 June. The school will be open for instruction in the morning. Students who are not rostered home will be expected to attend as normal. A letter with the details for the day will be sent home next week.
Parent teacher interviews
With the industrial action we have not been able to hold our usual parent teacher meetings this week. However, reports have been prepared and these are now visible via the Portal. 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 Please contact teachers directly if you would like to meet with them.
We are looking at how we will be able to improve teacher/whanau communication so that we can have face to face meetings. Part of our consideration will be the restrictions that are placed upon staff as a result of the ongoing industrial action.
There are just two weeks to go until the end of the term. There are two significant events coming up. The first is the SNOB which will be next Friday. I hope that you will be able to join us to see students arriving at the event. The second is the senior production which is scheduled for the last week of the term. I hope that this event will be able to go ahead and I will be sharing more details in next weeks newsletter.
Have a good weekend.
Ka kite ano

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