Year 7 to 13 Catholic Boys School, Auckland New Zealand

Principal's Newsletter June

Posted by on 9 June 2014

The field of the poor may yield much food But is swept away through injustice.– Proverbs 13: 23-24.

Dear Parents and Caregivers

As part of the aim of improving communication between home and school, I will be sending a newsletter entitled Principal’s Newsletter. This will be distributed two times each term starting from this term. The purpose of this newsletter is to give you more detail on specific school initiatives or to share reflections on current educational issues.

The current practice of distributing a school newsletter twice a month will continue. The purpose of this newsletter is to inform you of current school activities and to alert you to up-coming events. I welcome your feedback on the effectiveness of the communication.

E Learning:
You will be aware that many schools encourage students to bring devices to school to assist in the learning process. We are in the process of introducing a trial of three classes - 7M, 7J and 8G - where students will use digital devices such as Tablets or iPads as part of the normal process of teaching and learning. Parents of these students have been contacted and information has been sent home. There is a meeting of the students and parents on Wednesday 11^th June at the College.

Teachers of these classes have been involved in Professional Development for a number of weeks as they prepare for the trial. The effective use of these devices to improve teaching and learning is the reason for the change. We are aware that increasing numbers of students come to Liston College fully familiar with the use of such devices to enhance their learning. Eventually all students at the College will have the opportunity to bring their device to school as part of the learning routine.

Until very recently we have been unable to offer this opportunity to students. We have completed the network upgrade to ensure that there is sufficient capacity and reliability in the wireless network to support 800 students and 65 staff.

What Makes a School Catholic?
In a recent edition of Lighting New Fires, the newsletter from the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, there was an excellent summary of five essential elements to help answer this question. They are:

  • The belief that the human person is made in the image of God and is therefore worthy of respect. Jesus is the exemplar par excellence.
  • The belief that we meet God in the ‘bits and pieces’ of everyday life. Our daily interactions, the sacraments, liturgy, and prayer are all ways God approaches us and we approach God.
  • The belief that we are saved as a community. We learn how to form a community of care, with special attention to those who have less or are suffering.
  • The fact that we belong to a tradition going back to Christ saying, “Go and teach all nations.” It is our duty to be faithful to that tradition and to interpret it anew for today.
  • The fact we value knowledge. We strive to provide an education of excellence.

These elements certainly give us a powerful model for reflection in ensuring we are an authentic Catholic school.

Student Involvement:
When I am enrolling students I am often asked about the opportunities for them to be involved in the broader life of the College. I usually give a list of the sporting and cultural activities available to students here at Liston. When I was preparing this newsletter I checked on some figures. At present we have:

  • 11 Basketball teams – over 100 players
  • 6 Football teams – over 80 players
  • 3 Rugby teams – nearly 60 players
  • 1 Hockey team – 14 players
  • 4 Water polo teams – over 30 players
  • 4 Table tennis teams – 16 players
  • 1 Badminton team – 8 players
  • Jazz band – 26 members
  • Beginner Band – 20 members
  • Senior Choir – 25 members
  • Junior Choir – 20 members
  • Big Sing Choir – 15 members
  • Cook Island Drumming – 12 members

These figures show the large number of students who are participating in a wide range of activities at school beyond the classroom. I have not included the figures for participation in summer activities – these are equally impressive!

Boys’ Achievement:
I have commented often on this topic – and will continue to do so as it is central to our purpose. I regularly read articles on the topic and recently read one entitled What Relationships Mean in Educating Boys. – Michael Reichert & Richard Hawley in Education Week May 6 2014. The key feature of the article was the large number of boys in American high schools who are disengaged in the classroom. Amidst the gloom of statistics showing the achievement gap between boys and girls widening there is this comment. “The intriguing fact of the matter is that some boys in some schools – in fact some boys in most schools are productively engaged and exceed expectations. We might look here for answers to how to engage boys more effectively.” What the research found was that regardless of socio-economic status or ethnicity the teacher-boy connection was identified as not only contributing to and enhancing teaching and learning. The relationship was the means through which successful
teaching and learning was carried out.

Maori and Pasifika Achievement:
The article above supports all the current literature which emphasizes the importance of relationships in helping to raise student achievement. The College is currently working to implement the recommendations of the document Ka Hikitia –Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017. This is a Maori Education Strategy initiative which will help us to further improve Maori achievement. A Hui for Maori parents and caregivers will take place on Wednesday 25 June at 7.00pm at the College.

A similar document – the Pasifika Education Plan – outlines suggestions to assist schools to improve the achievement of their Pasifika students. A Fono is being organized for parents and caregivers of Pasifika students in the last week of term. More details will be available when the date is confirmed.

Staff will be discussing these documents as part of their commitment to improving student achievement. I look forward to meeting you at the Hui and Fono and hearing what you have to say.

I am interested in your feedback on the newsletter communication. I have had some suggestions about improving the report evenings for parents and have discussed these with the staff. Please pass your comments to Deirdre Auger my P.A. I look forward to your feedback. (

God bless you and your families

C S Rooney