By Richard Hall | Posted: Tuesday November 22, 2016
2016 has been a very good year for the school.
Academically we began on a high - some of the best NCEA results the school has ever produced - we led all nationally in NCEA in all categories; the numbers in brackets are the national comparison.
Level 1 - 89.3 (75)
Level 2 - 86.9 (77)
Level 3 - 66.1 (64)
U.E - 59.1 (49)
Our boys are the very best.
Importantly over half of those who achieved NCEA in 2015, at Level 1, 2 and 3, did so with a merit or excellence endorsement. This kind of statistic is exceptional in New Zealand. Pleasingly Otago Boys’ High School also led the whole Otago region in scholarship. These examinations sat separately are the pinnacle of academic achievement in a secondary school. We achieved 21, with 3 at outstanding level. I cannot find the last time this school led that statistic.
Indeed; with these results the idea propagated outside of the school that we are just a sports school is more of a perception than a reality. I hope - with continued strong results we will be able to pop that particular balloon. While these are results that we can be pleased with - but by no means is the job complete. Rather we have only now scraped the surface of what we as a school could achieve. This year for instance in Samuel Thompson Year 10 we have a national spelling bee finalist and in Sean Lau we have the highest score in the New Zealand /Pacific region for the ICAS Mathematics competition.
The beginning of the year saw the launch of our new vision; To be Best for Boys’ through the right learning.
Being best for boys is simple, it is why we exist, what we want to be every day - the right learning is how we will achieve that vision. The right learning comes from our school motto - Recti Cultus Pectora Roborant - through the right learning to a heart of oak.
For us the right learning occurs inside and outside of the classroom - to engage boys you need a strong purpose. To engage them in their learning you need to involve them in their learning - few in number are the days where student learning will solely be teacher directed. An example of this was our Year 9 and 10 Inquiry week - this full week of student directed learning produced some inspiring results.
The right learning also links closely to our values - to the qualities of character that we want to instil in your son - this year we updated our school values to: Respect; Honour and Courage; Perseverance; Excellence
Each one, we believe, will shape a man of oak - a man who can go forward into the world with his head up, with confidence in who he is and where he has come from. For if I had any concern for the young men of our school it is to keep that sense of self of decency and honesty - the personal truth.
As William Henley put it in his poem Invictus; It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
Structural changes such as the new timetable order and the vertical form classes were introduced to back up our vision and values.
A key component of our school is our staff. As an employer of close to 100 staff we are not insignificant to the region. Joining us were new staff members Mrs Michelle Gilks in Science and Mrs Michelle Turner joined us in the canteen.
In June this year the Educational Review Office; the National body charged with reviewing the performance of every school in the country. As my first review as Rector, I don’t mind admitting it was a daunting prospect. The reality was though they quickly understood the key qualities of our school; they too embraced the idea that we are a school on the move; excerpts from the report concluded;
“The school is in an improved position regarding achievement, school culture, community involvement and support, and wider collaborations.”
“The school is very well led and managed. Staff and students have a clarity of purpose and direction. A strong emphasis is placed on teachers building positive relationships with their students and whānau. The school's values, initiatives and orderly learning environment are having a positive impact on learning.”
The middle of the year also saw the election of a new Board of Trustees. From the 14 candidates I believe the parents have selected a fantastic group to see our school into a significant new phase. My thanks go to them for their time and passion for our school.
In summer and winter sporting codes, this school has continued to shine. The ability for us to put out consistently high performing teams is important and we have begun a process of review for sport that I know will see us improve even more. Culturally we have maintained a consistent level, the introduction of a public speaking qualification has been warmly received. I know that from the students there is a drive to improve this area of the school.
Our Maori and Pasifika groups go from strength to strength. Te Ngaru Wihi’s selection as the regional representative for the national Nga Manu Korero competition, a first for us, was a highlight. Parent involvement through our whanau and fono groups has been a key driver for change - parent involvement in your son’s education brings success for him.
In both the sporting and cultural fields we are proud of our 9 national representatives. The discipline and dedication to reach that is quite exceptional.
As a school we are firmly moving forward in a new direction, the right learning for the young men of Otago.
For instance, I am very pleased to report that next year we will have 183 year 9 students; the most since 2010. The Hostel also is full, I have had to turn away boys, there simply is not the space.
My personal thanks go to all the hostel and all school staff, truly it is the people that make this place the right learning environment. In these people we have the opportunity to progress even further. I need to acknowledge the Hostel Manager Mr Vilestra and Matron Janice Shaw and the school senior leadership team of Mr Turner, Mr Hooper, Ms Gorman and Mrs Marr for their selfless dedication to the school.
To our community - 2017 is nearly upon
us - As a school we are moving in the right direction and with you supporting
us as our community I know there are no limits.