Of late, news regarding the level of competency in mathematics and literacy among children in New Zealand has been making headlines. As an educator, I share the concern of the decline in students’ performance in these subjects across the country.
To me, these core subjects form a pivotal foundation in our children’s education. Therefore, I truly believe that a structured approach, as we have in our school, is a requisite to ensure students do not waiver and learning doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Learning mathematics for example is rooted on:
- Acquiring the knowledge of basic facts
- Understanding what is being asked
- Making the problems real so that students see purpose in their learning
- ‘Working’ is an essential part of the process; you don’t need to do everything in your head and use several different strategies if you have identified the one that is right for you
- Cyclical learning. Regular practice and revisiting new concepts aid retention
- Daily teaching
The basics of Mathematics enable us to solve problems and unless students understand the question or have confidence in working with numbers then they will struggle. That is why reading goes hand in hand with mathematics. Helping students understand how to solve problems by turning the question into a mathematical sentence and then teaching a process that is clear and logical provides the key stages for success. Checking your ‘working’ becomes the norm.
Through these methodical processes of stages and steps, students can see the structure and analyse for themselves where they have gone wrong. With a firm foundation, students will start to see results, enjoy the subject and gain confidence in their ability
A look at the Progressive Achievement Tests or commonly known as PAT, which is one of the main sets of tests primary schools use to assess achievement levels of students, have shown that in 2022, 77% of students nationally score an ‘Average’ rating and above in Mathematics, Reading and Listening, with only 4% of students nationally recording the highest ‘Well Above’ rating.
If we look at our Boys’ performance, more than 90% of our students achieved an ‘Average’ rating and above for Mathematics, with 34% of our boys in Year 8 scoring ‘Well Above’ ratings. In both Reading and Listening, around 90% of our boys achieved scores of ‘Average’ and above. So, why have our boys been able to break the norm?
I believe it is a combination of a few things. Our students are grouped in smaller classes with additional Mathematics teachers at every level from Year 3 and above. We place significant emphasis on nurturing understanding of Mathematics which is taught cyclically to reinforce learning and to build confidence. In our Senior School, Mathematics and English are taught by specialist teachers who are passionate and have years of experience in the subject. With a strong foundation in place, there is no excuse for our boys to not excel.
However, while we have seen strong results, there is always room for improvement, and I hope parents can continue to work with us to ensure your son acquires the basic facts in Mathematics and a genuine love for reading by encouraging him to make reading a habit when they are at home. Together, we can support our boys in their continuous development and build on the steady momentum already started.
Purpose-built Macky Senior School
At the start of the term, our Year 7 and Year 8 boys moved into their new purposefully built classrooms which have exceeded our teaching and learning requirements. As I walk around our Senior School, it is heartening to see all spaces well used by the boys and staff. In particular, the facilities have made it seamless for our boys to move from their classrooms where core subjects are taught by specialist teachers to the adjacent Specialist Facilities for Science and other Arts and Creative Technology subjects.
While we continue to nurture a strong foundation in core subjects, we are also working in parallel to build the capacity of our boys in the acquisition of future-ready skillsets through our Arts and Creative Technologies programme delivered through our new Specialist Facilities, which I will share more of in the coming months.
I am also pleased to update that with our Senior Boys settling in the new Macky Senior School, we have started the refurbishment of our Middle School which is now nearing completion. We hope to have the Middle School boys move into their fresh new classrooms immediately after Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Despite a tough term for both families and school due to illness from the surge in Omicron cases in the community and sudden changes to programmes as we have had to adapt to public health measures, I believe we are off to a good start for the year having achieved major milestones and were able to carry on with a number of events as planned.
With the easing of restrictions, we are looking forward to a busy year with community events back on the calendar starting with Celtic Day, Meet the Teacher Evenings and Parents & Friends gatherings scheduled in the first couple of weeks of Term 2. We look forward to welcoming families back into our school and a chance to see our new facilities in action.
Fides Servanda Est
Mr Peter Cassie
Boys’ School Principal