Newlands College
Newlands College
Newlands College

News from the Desk of the Principal Archive Term 1 2018

13 April 2018

Kia Ora Tatou

Term 1 has now drawn to a close. Given the weather that we have had this week it feels like a good introduction to what we can expect next term, which I think of as the winter term.

Next term is full on with the winter sports season starting in earnest. By week 2 all the teams will have begun their programmes and for most, this will carry on to the first week of September. Alongside this the school production, Catch Me If You Can will be brought to the stage with the season running from May 29th to June 1st. With a cast of some 80 students this will be a must see and tickets will sell out quickly. The school ball on 9 June will also be a highlight of the term and our recent fashion parade at assembly promoting ball dresses, suits and ties suggests that some serious planning is already underway.

During Term 1 you would have been receiving engagements reports every two weeks on the portal. With the end of the term now completed,expanded subject comments are now being written and will be appearing on the portal next term. They will detail the progress that each student has made so far, and areas of improvement to be worked on. The fortnightly engagement report will continue to be provided.

During the holidays we have two groups who are travelling overseas. A group of our Maori students will be travelling up to Rarotonga and will be exploring the connections that exist between the two countries particularly through language, culture, place names and the like that link the original wakas back to the Pacific Islands. The second group are students who are studying French and they will be travelling to France to immerse in the local culture and language. I am sure that both trips will be immensely beneficial to all the student's learning.
As mentioned earlier I will be on sabbatical from 6 August 6th to 15 November. The Board of Trustees has appointed Ms Deb King, Deputy Principal, to cover my absence during this time.

I hope that the student's all have a restful break and I look forward to another good term.

Nga Mihi Nui

Grant Jones

29 March 2018

Kia Ora Tatou

Education in New Zealand is about to undergo one of its most extensive reviews since the introduction of Tomorrow's Schools in the late 1980s. The Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins plans to use this review to set the direction for education for the next thirty years. While the outcomes are nowhere near being announced, at the annual Moot for the NZPF (Primary Teachers Principal's Federation) Minister Hipkins identified that some of the following areas were of particular interest:

  • Creativity and innovation have been hampered by compliance and accountability [in the past decade] leaving not enough time to teach and these constraints have in turn hampered achievement.
  • New Zealand is experiencing the worst teacher shortage ever and has experienced a 40% drop in recruitment in the last nine years
  • Mental health issues are being taken seriously by the Government but it will take time to get traction and change
  • The future role of Board of Trustees has come into question
  • NCEA needs to be reviewed to determine if it is meeting the original goals it was set up to achieve.
  • Despite the untold amendments to the education act over the past decade there has not been an end point vision for education, and that needs to change.

There are many other areas of interest and I suspect students in our junior school and those with younger brothers and sisters will be educated in an environment that is quite different from the one that we have now. I am sure that there will consultation around some of the proposed changes that will come out of the review and I would encourage people to participate if they would like to have a say in our young people's future education.


In the past Easter has usually been part of the school holidays, this year it isn't. As a result Easter Tuesday 3rd April is a school holiday for all schools in New Zealand. We will be closed and normal classes will resume on Wednesday 4th April.


In the last newsletter I wrote about my concerns that far too many students were taking time off school for holidays and the like. It seems timely then that the following information has recently been published.
If a student missed half a day of school per fortnight, by the time they finished school they would have missed a year of education!

A year 11 student who attends everyday has a 90% chance of achieving NCEA level 1, but this drops to 20% if they only turn up to school for half the time.

Again I would like to re-iterate that taking unjustified breaks during term time, such as holidays, is ill-advised and does not support student learning.


A reminder that next term all students will need to be in winter uniform. For our seniors this means blazers and ties, shorts cannot be worn, and black tights are to be worn with the skirt. For juniors, the blazer and tie is still optional. A reminder that the school jacket is a black jacket that is logo free such as a puffer jacket, Macpac or Kathmandu style. Students may wear the school vest or jersey in class but jackets are for ourside wear only. If you have not done so already, can you please make the appropriate arrangements for the start of next term, Monday April 30th.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, I hope that you all have an enjoyable break and return ready for the last eight days of school.

Nga mihi nui

Grant Jones

6 March 2018

Kia Ora Tatou


Leadership is an important aspect of school life and we provide the students with numerous opportunities to demonstrate this. The School Executive is one of the most significant leadership groups in the school and we recently held the elections to select its membership. The staff and students both voted; students votes were weighted by year level and the shortlisted candidates were then interviewed by the Senior Management Team. As a result of this process I am pleased to announce that the following are our student leaders for 2018.

Head Girl
Ruth Cabahug
Head Boy
Shine Wu
Academic Captain
Matt Jay
Arts Captain
Gabby Browne
Sports Captain
Emily Dawson
Kowhai House Captain
Alex Clinton
Matai House Captain
Ethan Kelly
Rimu House Captain
Kiana Butters
Totara House Captain
Liam Kendrew
Komiti Maori
Emily Bain
Komiti Pasifika
Ruci Seru
International Student Representative
Ada Zhang
Helen Kuang
BOT Representative
Shani McMullan

NCEA Results

At our most recent assembly we were pleased to invite parents to share in the presentation of our Excellence awards to those who had excelled in NCEA. Last year over 91% of students achieved NCEA Level 1. Of that group over 2/3rds of the students were endorsed with Merit or Excellence, which is well ahead of national averages. For Level 2 93% of students were successful and over 70% gained Merit or Excellence which compares exceptionally well with the national average of 48%. Included in this group were 5 students who also gained Scholarships. Shine Wu our joint Dux last year successfully achieved 4 Scholarships which is an outstanding effort for a Year 12 student. Overall the College achieved 18 Scholarships in total.


Since my last newsletter we have also held our traditional Tabloids sports day. It is a house based competition which is a blend of games and sporting competitions with elements of wearing house colours and costumes (think the Sevens). It is a fun day, builds a lot of school spirit, and most students get to do some physical activity for the day. This year's tabloids were won by Matai House.

Holidays During term Time

Increasingly I am told by parents that they will be taking their sons and daughters out of school for long periods of time. Sometimes this can be up to a term but it is usually 2-3 weeks and the reason provided is that it is a family holiday, or a family function such as a reunion, wedding or elderly family member's birthday overseas.
The evidence is unequivocal, absenteeism from school affects student's learning and success. Students find it hard to catch up when they return, they often miss key steps in their learning, and assessments do not get completed or submitted which is critical if they count towards NCEA.

Our Guidelines from the Ministry of Education are quite clear, these absences under the Education Act are illegal and will be entered into our absentee system as “Unjustified”. If the absence is for more than three days can you please e-mail me directly and advise me of the situation. Please be aware that the staff will not be providing work to students who are away for these types of reasons, however the students can track their classwork using their device. Any assessments will need to be submitted prior to departure, and late assessments will not receive grades. In the case of NCEA there may also not be a re-submission opportunity.

Learning Conferences

As in the past we will once again be holding our Learning Conferences with our students and their families. These are scheduled for the afternoons of Tuesday 20th and Monday 26th of March. Further details will arrive in your inbox shortly.
Nga Mihi Nui

Grant Jones

12 February 2018

Kia Ora Tatou

I would like to welcome you to the first Message from the Desk of the Principal for 2018. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all parents and caregivers who have children in the college for the first time.

Communications with our families and whanau are extremely important. These messages are provided on the website fortnightly, and we advise parents of them by e-mail. In addition, parents and caregivers can find important information specific to their own student(s) through the parent portal. This information will include: attendance, timetable, invoice for costs, and personal details. The students' progress is also reported through the portal, subject by subject as significant pieces of work are completed. This will occur at least once a term. In this way you will receive regular feedback. All students will also receive an engagement report. This is a snapshot of the progress being made, based on a 1 to 3 scale and are published fortnightly. The first of these will be coming out in the middle of the term. The portal is password protected and you will have received your password by now. If you have any difficulties with your password, please contact my P.A. Fei Gao at

Last year's students have now received their NCEA results, and while there is still an opportunity for students to gain additional credits, the college has a picture of how well the students achieved this year. I am always reluctant to discuss specific percentages as there are so many variables that influence the results that are beyond our control. An example of this is that international students who returned home in August and did not sit the examinations, are still included in the results. However for the sake of transparency, our results were:

  • Level 1 91%
  • Level 2 93%
  • Level 3 84%
  • University Entrance 70%

These results exceeded all the national averages. Also of note is that our Pasifika and Maori students did extremely well, although using percentages can be misleading as the groups of students are small in numbers.

Maori Level 1 89%, Level 2 93% and Level 3 75%, and for Pasifika, Level 1 90%, level 2 87%, and Level 3 67%

All female students who stayed until the end of year 13 achieved Level 2 and 97% of males gained the qualification.

As in the past we began the school year for our Year 9 students with our Peer Support camp. This allowed the new students to start building new friendship bonds, get to know their Form Teachers, and undertake a wide range of outdoor activities. It also provided our year 13 students the opportunity to learn leadership skills. We were once again at El Rancho up at Waikanae and the students tried swimming, mud slides, kayaking, as well as a big range of initiative activities. These culminated in the form class relay which was strongly contested.

The new students and staff were formerly welcomed to the school on the following Monday with a Powhiri. This year we tried as much as possible to have the whole school involved. The result was much more powerful singing and the haka made a significant statement as the new staff and students entered the hall. The format was one which we will repeat.

The school year is already moving quickly. Auditions for this year's school production Catch Me If You Can are underway, dragon boating, cricket, futsal and volleyball have begun and our elections for the student leaders have also begun. It is going to be another full on term.

I will keep you informed of what is happening in the college as the year progresses and please check the events calendar one the website as there is a lot happening this term.

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