Principal's Pānui - 12 August 2022
The big talking point for this week is the release of information about the nature of relief to be provided for students in the wake of significant disruptions to the school year. This affects our students currently undertaking their NCEA Qualification. The Ministry of Education, in conjunction with NZQA, have taken on-board the feedback from schools around significant absences of students and stuff, and the impact that has had on teaching, learning, and assessment in the first two terms.
The changes announced are designed to recognise the disruption and provide relief for students, while preserving the integrity of NCEA and the learning it represents.
- Students will receive Learning Recognition Credits (LRC), with one LRC awarded for every five credits earned through assessment.
- Students working toward NCEA Level 1 will be able to receive up to 10 additional credits.
- Students working toward NCEA Levels 2 or 3 will be able to receive up to 8 additional credits.
- To receive a Certificate Endorsement, students will need to earn 46 credits at Merit or Excellence level, instead of the usual 50.
- The University Entrance requirement (for Year 13 students) to achieve at least 14 credits in each of 3 approved subjects has also been adjusted, to 14 credits in each of 2 approved subjects and 12 credits in a third approved subject.
- The dates for end of year examinations in 2022 remain unchanged.
Whilst there are some schools who have their reservations there are many, including Massey High School, who see it as necessary relief for many of our students, many of whom faced significant disruption to their learning this year.
Our messaging to all will be consistent – for those near their goals, it is not a reason to take their foot off the gas, their aim should still be to succeed at the highest possible level and to attain subject and certificate endorsements. For those with work to do, it is a welcome boost, but hard work is still required to attain their level appropriate qualification.
Deans and Teachers will continue to work with our students to ensure that appropriate support is available for those who need it, and to fully inform Year 13 students of the slight amendment to their University Entrance pathway and the impact it has on their personal journey.
We have noticed a recent upswing in the numbers of students choosing to vape. Vaping has become one of the most popular forms of substance use among young people, despite growing evidence of its health risks and harms. Vaping companies continue to target teenagers and their message that vaping is safe is disingenuous and very concerning.
Whilst education around this issue is still the primary focus, we also need to consider the wider student body as a whole. For those students who continue to engage in this behaviour more punitive consequences through our school disciplinary system may be required to reinforce the notion that their behaviour (which is a choice) and the example it sets is not who we are at Massey.
We do remind students (and parents) that there are significant health issues coming to light that are associated with vaping. The most common immediate effects include coughing, dry mouth and throat, shortness of breath, mouth and throat irritation and headaches. More long-term health effects could include addiction to nicotine, and lung damage or cancer caused by inhaling the carcinogenic flavouring compounds. At a recent seminar attended by schools from across Auckland, the Head of Respiratory Medicine at Middlemore Hospital highlighted the impact of the much smaller particulate size in vapes and the ability of those particulates to penetrate further into lung tissue.
Massey High School’s health and safety policy states that students are not permitted to bring, consume or distribute cigarettes or vapes to school or to any school function. In November 2020 changes took effect under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act that saw the existing prohibition on smoking at Ministry of Education property extended to include vaping. Consequently, any students who are vaping at school are breaking both school rules and New Zealand law. This extends to after school or weekend activities on school grounds and applies to both students and visitors.
Distinguished Alumni Award
As mentioned last week, we recognised a past student at our Alumni Dinner on Saturday 6th August. Harry Aitken was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Harry was Head Boy, Dux, and Captain of our First XV in his final year at Massey High School in 2007. After leaving Massey, Harry graduated from Auckland University with a BA/BSc and finally a PhD in organic chemistry. He then moved to Harvard University in the States to work with a group of scientists on ways to synthesis anti-cancer molecules that could be used in treatments. He is now with the Massachusetts General Hospital where is conducting research into the chemical reactions associated with the origins of life. Obviously, Harry was unable to attend the evening in person but did provide a pre-recorded video message to accept the award.
Our Massey High School Jazz Combo were outstanding on Sunday, included in their set was a favourite of mine “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. They placed in the top 4 (from 22 schools competing) continuing a fine run of results by Massey High School musicians.
Our First XI boys went ahead early on in their game against One Tree Hill College. They did provide a rather nervy finish for all watching as One Tree Hill came close to equalising in the 89th minute despite Massey being dominant through the course of the match.
The First XV gave Westlake Boys High School a lot to think about on Saturday (with Westlake being behind at one stage). Should they be successful against Manurewa High School tomorrow in their semi-final, it is likely that they will face Westlake again in the final. The squad was outstanding both on and off the field.
Tuesday night was the highlight of the week though, with two of our netball teams playing in the finals of their competitions.
Our Premier 2 team (coached by Misty Potts and managed by current student Valentine Tausi) defeated Waitakere College to win the Premier 2 division. As winners, our girls were humble and were quick to acknowledge Waitakere on their effort. This was immediately followed by our Senior A Team (coached by ex-student Tori Talamahina and managed by Miriam Major) coming agonisingly close to winning their division, trading goals with Green Bay before finally ending the game only 1 behind. The girls in this team can be immensely proud of their season, and of the way they conducted themselves in defeat.
The culture in both of these teams is outstanding, and our thanks goes to the coaches and managers, and also to the considerable support of the parents and caregivers who attend the games.
Remember that next week contains the next NCEA Accord Day (Teacher only day) and the week following sees the return of on-site Parent Tutor Meetings – details of which will be made available soon. We hope to see as many of our parents and caregivers as possible across those two days to discuss their children’s progress and pathways.
Alastair Fairley, Principal