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Updates from Jude

Also see the Positive Education page - one of Jude's passions!

16 April 2021

posted 15 Apr 2021, 19:32 by Carolyn Brett

Term 1 started...... and then it's over, like the two buns in a burger but filled with plenty of colour, taste and texture to suit the full range of appetites!

For the first time ever, we took a punt on what may be a fun way to celebrate having our school back and keeping learning at the centre. We did it! What we achieved was way beyond expectation - a vision was decided, we had a strategy, troops were rallied and it was a massive success. We were also able to fundraise $9500 which is truly the cherry on top!

This year, we embrace a general theme of creativity. We are really wanting to dial up our entire Arts Curriculum. We know that The Arts can be a fantastic medium for which to express thoughts and emotions and there is such a strong link between The Arts and positive emotion.

We survey our Year 5 & 6 students every year using the EPOCH tool. We noticed a dip last year in terms of the O in EPOCH (Optimism). As Optimism has such strong links to Resilience, we are deliberately having Optimism as another thread this year. You may be noticing this coming your way through Seesaw, the Class Blogs and the like.
What about Assemblies? There is certainly plenty of opportunity to experience positive emotion in bucket loads on a number of Friday mornings at our place! Please look out for all of the dates for Term 2 Assemblies in the Newsletter and the Calendar on the website.

We know that there is a positive relationship between wellbeing and academic achievement. We want our younger (and older people!) to do good, feel good and have every chance of experiencing success in all realms. Research will tell us that this can take up to ten years before this work is truly embedded in a school. We have been solidly working away for about six years now..... there is plenty still to do!

The staff would love to work even more closely with you to have home and school united in this quest (the 2 buns!) and the children continuing to experience a colourful, rich and character building primary school education. Watch this space.

Have a great 2 weeks and we will see you back for Round 2 soon!

26 March 2021

posted 25 Mar 2021, 16:46 by Carolyn Brett

Our Leavers' Profile articulates that 'Year 6 Leavers will be confident, connected, curious thinkers'. I've been pondering a bit lately about this and, actually, "Who is a 'Worser Bay kid'?"

I think this thought first emerged when I overheard a conversation that some of our children had about the Te Aro School kids who were invited to have a Beach Day with them. They referred to them as 'the city kids'.... which I was really amused with. I wondered what they see themselves as? Beach kids? Hill dwellers?...... I wouldn't have a clue!

I'm not expecting any of the children to answer that question using the words from the Leavers' Profile but it has certainly sparked a desire for me to explore it further.

Personal identity, group identity, WBS community identity, a sense of place and space - as adults, staff, parents and children enter, and one day leave, they all bring something with them, so it's important, I guess, that we recognise our community identity may be shaped and reshaped many, many, many times. Especially when we think the school has been here since 1897! 

So, here is to something brand new, different and indeed a change, a first for us...... the Whanau Festival!

I commend the courage and commitment our children, staff and parents have shown in taking a new idea and running with it.

What the weather gods do on Sunday is beyond us (I think!) but as long as everyone has a good time, has the positive 'do good, feel good' goal in mind, it has to be a great experience.

19 March 2021

posted 18 Mar 2021, 14:01 by Carolyn Brett

I was reflecting on the term "home school partnership" this week. Probably as our first round of Parent/Teacher/Child Meetings are over and the first Parent Workshop happened... I think we do tend to view it more as the partnership between the teachers and the parents in terms of an individual child’s doings or not doing yets! It’s more than that.

A couple of years ago, we put the antennae out - "if we could do more of something, what would it be?" The parent vote was overwhelmingly Music. The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is alive and well. Orchestra kicked off last week and, by the end of the session, "They were playing music” exclaimed our energetic parent with the will and the way to make the Orchestra happen. YAY!

The upcoming Whānau Festival has an artsy musical theme and we have talents amongst our parent community too - can’t wait for the upcoming grooves at the Whānau Festival! 

We had the Working Bee in readiness for the Festival and having a bit of a spruce, lick and polish, the prize sourcing for Running of the Balls, the design and printing of promotional material, the connecting, the networking, the overall communication and organisation.... the willingness of volunteers to give their time. Now that’s a huge aspect we can't underestimate in the home school partnership relationship.

So, on top of all things artsy, we also have things sporty happening with the Weetbix Tryathlon this weekend with parents who have been training and supporting our record number of Worser Bay School entries for many weeks. Many children for the first time - just keen to give it a go!

In 1989, the Government put the notion of ‘community’ back into schools with the educational reform known as "Tomorrow’s Schools". So, whilst this has been up for review again over the last couple of years, and some will say there is too much reliance on the school’s community which has created inequality between schools...., there are still more pluses than minuses to be able to create something unique to our context together. I wouldn’t wish to see that lost in any future changes - it’s too important.

So, here’s to the "Encouraging a Community to Flourish" mantra and to keeping this wider perspective on the concept of Home/School partnership. The ‘Home’ and the ‘School’ working together to make a positive difference to all and sundry at Worser Bay School.

Stargazers....... let’s go!

12 March 2020

posted 11 Mar 2021, 14:18 by Carolyn Brett

In my weekly Friday email to staff last week, I asked the Camp teachers "What character strengths did you have to dial up or down during Camp?!" Yes, we have pretty similar conversations with each other that we do with the children. This fits with the notion of 'whole school wellbeing' and the teachers having to 'learn it, live it, teach it, embed it'. It's certainly not something that happens in a week, a year or even a few years to say "Yes, tick it off... it's embedded!"

Recent research out of Flinders University in Melbourne suggests it takes around a whole cohort change in a primary school to see the evidence of the 'embedded' within the culture and philosophy. That's 6 years in our school and, although we have been undertaking this work for this amount of time...., we aren't there yet! A bit like a car trip "Are we there yet?", " No.... not .... yet!" The context changes, the staff may change, the children change and their needs change, so we need to keep nimble, review, adapt and keep moving forwards.

Last week, I took the staff back to some of the key questions:
  • What do we mean by whole school wellbeing?
  • Who are the people?
  • What's taught? What's caught?
  • What are the personal, school and system factors that an individual sits within?
  • How can we draw on this whole system?
  • Are there practices and processes in our school that may undermine wellbeing? 
Positive Education/Wellbeing for all is about teaching with both heart and mind. It's about the students, teachers, support staff, leaders, Board, whānau, iwi, wider community.

It's a complex web and these elements can combine in sometimes unpredictable ways. However, as our foundation, our rock.... we have to keep focused in our work - knowing that the evidence shows that a strong wellbeing focus supports academic progress as well as the other facets of a 'whole person'.

You will be hearing a lot more about this over the year and, as parents are so central to this work, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to engage with and develop your own knowledge and skills about what and how we do it. If home and school are speaking a similar language, it's all the better for our tamariki to grow and thrive.

Parents have found the character strengths poster (created by our students and parents) and based on the Values in Action (VIA) 24 Character Strengths really handy at home. 

You can order a laminated A3 poster for home via Online Payments for $5.00.

You may even like to take the free VIA Character Strength 10 minute survey yourself and have a go at strengths spotting!

5 March 2021

posted 4 Mar 2021, 18:12 by Carolyn Brett

Well when we think we know something.... we may not. 

It's an age of uncertainty alright and we just need to keep moving on through and making the best of all the 'good stuff'. As adults, we are very good at imagining what children may be thinking or building up our own story of what their hopes, dreams or fears may be. Often, for example, when they are appearing grumpy, it's possibly not something deep or profound but they may simply not be enjoying their new style of lunchbox that much. Of course, sometimes it is more and so we have to keep an open mind and take the time to explore further.

It's interesting though... I came across a piece of research that had been recently undertaken in Australia with over 1200 primary aged children about their experiences over 2020. As an adult, even in a country that has so far still fared relatively well, we may be thinking of words such as 'completely weird', 'unbelievable' or, unfortunately for some, 'jobless'. The three most dominant words these 1200+ children used for 2020 were 'fun', 'good' and 'happy'. It seemed that in the main they just got on with being kids whilst many parents surveyed were worried about too much screen time and a loss of real connection. (I do think this picture could be different in a country like the UK where many schools have been 'closed' for a year.)

However, it's always good to remember that children have their own strengths and maybe, just maybe...., they are more resilient than they, generationally, get credit for. We are so good at passing on 'our stuff' or what happened or didn't happen when we were a child onto them - in subtle and not so subtle ways. 

This week, our seniors were at Camp, now if that's not a rite of passage, an opportunity to push a few limits and, no doubt, sneak a few lollies in for a 'midnight feast', what is. We also know that the experience won't come easy for all of our children but as long as we can recognise the steps towards growing up, however big or small, and support them to take the next ones.... and hoping that one day it will be a 'fun, good and happy' time for them, that's a big plus. 

So, to our teachers, parent support people and campers... do you deserve some shut eye or what this weekend!  Rest up....... and thankyou, thankyou ,thankyou for you have enabled an opportunity for growth to occur and aren't we lucky that we still could!

26 February 2021

posted 25 Feb 2021, 13:54 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 25 Feb 2021, 17:38 ]

This morning we welcomed new whānau at our annual Pōhiri. The weather gods were arguing with us so a move to indoors it had to be. Wow! One of my favourite events of the school calendar. I thought I'd share the words I shared on behalf of the staff and Board once the official Welcome was completed:

Tēnā koutou katoa e te whanau o Whetūkairangi
Nau mai haere mai ki te kura ahurei
Kei konei mātou hei tautoko, hei manaaki i a koe.

Your child/ren and many of you have joined the school as we embark on a really exciting next stage in its life. When the school was originally built in 1897, it was the first school on the Peninsula at a time when….. It had only been approximately 50 years since iwi had occupied the Pā and whereas Worser Bay was a favourite seaside resort for the ‘townies’, the Crawford family began selling their land in residential blocks and the original holiday homes around here became permanent dwellings. A school was required!

Now fast forward.

This is not just any old school! The philosophy of open spaces, open hearts, open minds and the principles of collaboration at all levels and across all people - smaller and bigger, younger and older has been kept alive here for many many years.

We have witnessed our children achieving great outcomes - whether it be academically, socially, physically, emotionally... it’s the powerful combination of all facets of a whole person that we do our best to pay equal attention to for we cannot fully function as best as we might if any aspects are ignored. 

So life and learning here is full, rich and varied.

Positive Education / Wellbeing is our rock, our foundation, and  we aspire to have everyone that enters the gates - be it children, whānau, staff or the dashing in and out courier driver - have their ‘mana’ uplifted. 

As we are all part of the bigger system at large.

At the recent Whānau Picnic, I heard the story of a Worser Bay child who has now moved on a little way through schooling who had obviously reflected on their primary experiences and said to their sibling ‘Please do not take Worser Bay for granted’.

I agree, please don’t. We have something special to give. And... We won’t get it always right. We are all human - we have lives, loves, vulnerabilities and flaws…... and contrary to what many children think, that is not my mansion next door and we staff  don’t all live at school…. well, not all of the time! But together we can make a difference to the lives of our little people and give them a place to learn about relationships, mistakes, communication, challenge, about working collaboratively, pushing boundaries, growing grit, passion, ... that big word Resilience which has never been so important as it is now.

Sir Ken Robinson, education guru, orator, educator, inspiration passed away last year. He told many stories but one that always stayed with me is his story of a young girl of 8 who just could not sit still or cope very well at all at school. The school consequently told the child’s mother that she was unwell and needed fixing. The mother, obviously very concerned, sought professional help. The doctor, after spending a period of time with the child, then went outside the door with the mother to observe through the window in the door. He had left music playing.

The doctor came to a conclusion. “She’s not unwell, she’s a dancer, she needs to dance.” 

Gillian Lynn went on to dance for the Royal Ballet and became a world leading choreographer of many of  the big name musicals.

Every child has untapped potential and it is our job, together, to notice and give them every opportunity to flourish.

No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa 

The Whaikorero from John below:

I Tipu mai te mauri
Te mauri nui te mauri roa
Te Mauri whakaea
Ki te whai ao ki te Ao-mārama
Tihei Mauri ora

Ko te mihi tuatahi ki ngā atua
Ko Ranginui kei runga 
Ko Papatūānuku kei raro
Me mihi au ki a Tāne-te-wānanga, te kaitiaki o ngā kete wānanga, te matua o te mātauranga.
Me mihi au ki a Rongo hoki te Atua o te tatau pounamu
Te Atua o tenei marae
Tuia i runga, Tuia i raro
Mauria mai ō koutou tini mate
Kia tangihia, kia mihia.
Ki nga mate o tenei wahi tapu
Hoki atu ki te karanga o Hine-nui-te-pō.
Haere atu rā
Ki Hawaiki-nui,
Āpiti hono tatai hono te hunga mate ki te hunga mate
Āpiti hono tatai hono te hunga ora ki te hunga ora
Nā, kia huri au ki te hunga ora
E ngā iwi o te motu,
E ngā iwi o nga hau e whā,
E ngā iwi o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa,
E nga iwi, e nga reo, e nga mana
Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou.
Naia te whakamanawa e rere atu ra ki te Raukura, te tohu o te tatau pounamu me te houhanga a Rongo.
Mihi atu, mihi mai
Me mahara tātou te mana o Taranaki Whanui, 
Nga Rangatira, Te Whiti o Rongomai me Tohu Kakahi
Ko tenei kaupapa ko ta mātau kaupapa hoki
Ka puritia koutou o tenei kaupapa
Te kaupapa o manaakitanga ki nga iwi katoa
Ki nga whanau katoa, nga whanau hou, 
ka nui te koa me te hari ki te kite i a koutou i tēnei rā. 
Ki nga tamariki hou me nga whanau kua tae mai nei, Tena koutou
He mihi aroha ki a koutou.
Ka hono tātou ki a tātou katoa. Ko mātou katoa nga aho o te whariki whānau nei.  Kaore ano te whariki kia oti te tui. 
Tuia, tuia tuia ano
Tuia i runga, Tuia i raro
Tuia ki roto, tuia ki waho, 
Tuia te Whanau o Whetūkairangi.
Ko te whanau o Whetūkairangi e
No Reira, e tau nei ki runga i a tātou katoa, te wairua aroha. Kia ora koutou katoa

 No reira, Ki nga mana i a Tātou katoa, Tēna koutou Tēna koutou, Tēna koutou kātoa

A loose translation, of the above:

The Whaikōrero begins with a karakia.  This karakia acknowledges the life force which is present in all things and asks that it may grow and flourish in us all.
Next the gods, Ranginui above and Papatuānuku below us.  I also mihi to the god of knowledge Tane te Wananga who travelled through the heavens to gain the baskets of knowledge.  Also Rongo the god of peace who looks after the tatau pounamu, the greenstone door which is a metaphor for peace.
Tuia, a theme of the Kōrero, meaning to tie together.  Tuia i runga, tuia i raro ties the above, the gods to what is below, in the earthly realm.
The next piece of the kōrero is to the ancestors or those who have gone before us including the dead of this wahi tapu (sacred place) remembering that our school occupies the original Pā site in the region, the home of Ngai Tara.
Taranaki whanui, the iwi who have mana whenua here are then acknowledged and the philosophy of their great leaders, Te Whiti and Tohu whose legacy, a message of peace lives on today.  This kaupapa is a purpose which we share too and hold on to tightly.
The new whānau and children are greeted next and warmly welcomed.  I note that we are all now woven together.  We are part of the whariki or mat, each of us a thread.  The whariki is not fully woven yet, but we weave on and we weave together.  
Above and below are woven together, as is what is inside us and that which is outside of us.  And, we are woven together as a whānau, the Whānau of Whetūkairangi. 

19 February 2021

posted 18 Feb 2021, 14:04 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 18 Feb 2021, 14:18 ]

After many years in the UK, I came back to teach in New Zealand ...... and a lot had changed! We had 'Tomorrow's Schools' where the centralised control was distributed to Boards of Trustees and we had a very different National Curriculum. One that had a huge amount of Achievement Objectives for every learning area ... a massive tome. I can still vividly recall the Board of Trustees at Clyde Quay School inquiring as to how someone who had been out of the country so long would get their head around such documents in the interview. (....Um, I'm not sure I really ever totally did!)

Then fast forward and I was working in the Ministry of Education at the time of the development of the 'New Curriculum', a curriculum which was held up globally as a gem. Enter the key competencies and less prescription which could also be interpreted as somewhat vague. But so much better than before. The pendulum swung.... and as these things do in many environments... it's now about to swing more to the middle. Which I think will take the mystery away and create greater consistency whilst maintaining each community's local flavour - this is what we call place based, or our local curriculum.

Sitting above all of this is each school's Strategic Plan. Due to changes afoot, we need to always check that the vision and direction is aspirational, broad enough to align with upcoming changes and also represent us. We are thrilled to unveil the new plan. It's a visual delight on one page.

I'd love you to spend some time having a look over it and please check out the background pages as they explain the visual. 


That old adage "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" ...... I think you need both!

12 February 2021

posted 11 Feb 2021, 15:31 by Carolyn Brett

We are well into the swing of things and are loving the energy of our smaller and bigger, younger and older people!

On Tuesday you would have received the email with the instructions on how to book for your Parent/Teacher/Child start of year meeting. As I alluded to last week, this is all about getting a feel for how things are going so far, what's working well, where we need to place more attention and a bit of scene setting for the year ahead.

Positive Education is at the heart of our curriculum. This whole area of wellbeing is one of 'the things' that supports our school to have something special, something that may make a huge difference in the lives of our children, even if the tangible outcomes may not be fully realised until they become adults. I tell you what though.... our children do well beyond our gates. At the end of last year, I had many parents letting me know how many Worser Bay School alumni were receiving awards from everything from Academics, to Arts to Sport to Attitude, being made leaders, putting their hands up to contribute and make a difference to others at Intermediate and High Schools. So many strong foundations happen between Autahi, Tautoru, Mahūtonga Matariki, we cannot underestimate that.

So, for these important initial meetings, we will use our Positive Education Flourish model as a tool to prompt the conversation.

At the centre of the model, you will find the Character Strengths. If you have recently joined us, you will hear more about these... and you can see the little plaques designed by children and parents scattered throughout the playground. 

So, we like to start from a place of strength and use the strengths to also support areas that are not so strong. Some of you will have heard me use the metaphor of the sailing boat at Worser Bay many times. Here's another time for luck! Picture a boat, bobbing around. There is a hole in this boat. Eek! The boat may sink so we need to pay attention to that hole for sure, however, all the strengths are in the sail. If we don't pay attention to the sail, the boat doesn't have a direction to move in.

The Flourish Model helps us remember to look at the 'whole child' when considering goals and next steps. There will be areas in the model that you/your child may feel are going really well and areas that you may feel aren't. You can get them talking at a level which they understand - it's likely to be quite different for a 5 or a 10 year old. This may help some conversations start to happen at home prior to the meetings. Teachers will also get some conversations rolling at school as well.

Character Strengths - Which strength are you most proud of? How would you like to use it this year?
Positive Relationships - Do you feel you work well with your friends? Are you able to work with different groups of children? How do you feel about playtimes?
Positive Accomplishment - What work are you most proud of? What did you do that made you feel so good about it? What's the most difficult thing you have ever done?
Positive Engagement - Is there a part of school where you enjoy learning the most? Which are the parts of your day you don't enjoy so much? Are you OK asking questions? What would help you most? What do you like best about school? What don't you feel so happy about?
Positive Health - What will help you stay focussed? When do you feel you have the most energy? Where do you like learning best? What's your favourite thing to do outside? 
Positive Emotions - What is it about learning that makes you most happy? Where are the hard bits? What can we do to help you? What do you enjoy about music/art/being in nature? Is there anything you would like to explore more?

5 February 2021

posted 4 Feb 2021, 18:38 by Carolyn Brett

It was so lovely to catch up with many of you this week, especially being able to share our beautiful 'new school'. I loved some of your comments such as "it feels like we have grown up", "it looks so professional" and "your staff deserve being able to work in an adult environment". So, thank you, we appreciate it. In fact some of you never really knew this section of the school even existed as you joined us when we were all scaffolded up! Autahi is on it's way - just a little bit to do now.... we are on a roll!
As you will have noted in previous emails this week, there are a number of family events on the horizon. Next week we hope to have one of those calm stunning evenings for the Family Picnic at Worser Bay Beach like we had last year. You will also note that there is a postponement date...... just in case! This is a great chance to mix and mingle, BYO food and drink and get to relax, meet new people, reconnect with the oldies and get to know the teaching staff a little bit better.

Whānau/Family Picnic 
Worser Bay Beach
Thursday 11 February (p/d Thursday 18 February)
5pm to 6.30pm
This year we have made a slight tweak to our initial parent/teacher/child meetings. Firstly, they are earlier in the term, the focus is more broad and will be centred on 'the whole child'. We hope that goals for the year will come from this session but the conversation isn't all about goal setting per se. It will be more about a temperature check - as to how the school year has started, what's going well, and where we need to place more focus. As many of you have experienced in the past, these meetings can go swimmingly.... or it may be that for a child it's a bit of a not wanting to talk with adults kind of day! So, to help warm things up, look out for the full Newsletter next week when we will provide some helpful hints to get some conversations rolling at home and we will do the same at school as an entree to the main course! 
You will book this with your child's Base Group teacher. If your child is in Autahi, it's a little different - just book for Autahi not under a teacher's name. Bookings will open Tuesday. You will receive a separate email with instructions for how to book.
Remember, school is closed for Waitangi Weekend Monday, so we will see you back on Tuesday. 
We are so looking forward to accomplishing great things together this year.

11 December 2020

posted 4 Feb 2021, 18:34 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 4 Feb 2021, 18:35 ]

I can’t really believe I am writing the last Newsletter piece for 2020. In all the complexity and uncertainty of the start to the decade, we have much to be proud of and celebrate.

This is what THE WRAP on Tuesday is really all about - just being together and ending on a high note rather than a flat one! Then, 2 days after that, when we farewell you and your children at 1.00pm, classrooms are sorted, last jobs are done, the staff will sit in the ‘temporary staffroom’ for almost the final time and get stuck into stealing each others’ Secret Santa surprises!

And then........ well, there will be some container unloading into my office, some moving over to the new spaces..... And then the festive season can begin!

We have some knowns. We know that we will all be having summer holidays in New Zealand, we know that holiday hot spots will be packed out, we know that the weather will highly likely be unpredictable at best, we know that we all have an opportunity to breathe a little more deeply and appreciate our country and each other.
We know we need a break, where the alarm isn’t always our best friend and that the holiday reading pile may actually start to dwindle.

We also go into the holidays knowing that all the work in preparation for a new school year has been done, we have our start of year activities prepared:

Stationery Drop Off - 9am on Wednesday 3 February
Term 1 2021 starts - 8.55am on Thursday 4 February
Waitangi Day Observed - Monday 8 February - School is closed
Year 5 & 6 Camp 2021 - Wed 3 March to Fri 5 March
Year 4 Camp 2021 - Thurs 4 March
Whānau Festival - Sunday 28 March

We know we have to fill our buckets up to the miniscus with all the things that are good for the soul. So, to the WBS staff, please go offline and stop the teacher talk for a while. Nic - your friends and families don’t want or need “One, two, three.....eyes on me”!

To our Year 6 graduates and other children and families departing our shores.... take the top of the WBS pops with you and keep on building from there.

Whatever summer holidays mean to you and your whånau.... do it well, safely and be joyful!

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