Dear Parents and Caregivers
We have had a challenging start to this term and need to make some adjustments to how we operate at CHS over the remainder of the term to support learning.
Firstly, however, it is important to give you a context for our situation. We are not alone with the issues we are facing as the teaching profession across the country is stretched thinly. We are dealing with the legacy of COVID related issues and disruption and with problems emerging in student engagement, behaviour, progress in learning and mental and general health. There are significant external changes that we have been working towards for years, such as the NCEA change package and the re-design of elements of the national curriculum. We are also facing a shortage of teachers nationwide and the lack of quality teachers for our students is a growing problem.
In Cambridge, we are incredibly fortunate to have high quality relievers to cover these staffing gaps. However, this means we have fewer relievers available to us daily and this has further increased the pressure on staff, as we need to support each other by covering extra classes when staff are absent. In one example, we recently had one in three staff absent from CHS, and I am sure you can appreciate the challenge that was for us to manage.
In response to this pressure, we will put in place some minor interventions to help us until the end of the term. We have discussed these adjustments at length and, while no solution is ideal, the combination of measures will help us through the term. The following adjustments will enable us to decrease some of the demand on staff while continuing to support student learning well at CHS.
Here is the outline for the term, with a brief explanation why:
Week 5 – later starts
No Form Time for this week only. School will start 20 mins later, with period 1 at 9.00am. All bus students will be supervised and can gain access to the hall and library.
This is a difficult call as Form Time is a really important time for us. By delaying the start of the day for 20 minutes it will give us time to catch our breath, combine classes for relief purposes and deal with the work we put to one side when covering colleague’s classes, without impacting on learning.
Week 6 – Winter tournament week
We will need to roster home year levels through this week. This is the first time in 3 years that the winter tournament week can proceed, and we are sending 11 of our best teams around the north island for tournaments. Staff travel with these teams to support the students and so we need to reduce the school size to cater for this absence and any illness or additional absence that could occur. We decided to roster home each year level to balance the impact, as it recognises the needs of the senior students at this time. We also acknowledge the challenge that rostering home the juniors can pose and appreciate your support with this.
- Year 13 Monday (they have a study period first period that day)
- Year 12 Tuesday
- Year 11 Wednesday
- Year 10 Thursday
- Year 9 Friday
Students will be expected to continue on with work set earlier in class.
Week 7 – Normal week ahead of assessment week.
Week 8 and 9 – Assessment weeks with school exams from 15/9 to 23/9. Details shared separately.
Week 10 – Spirit week.
- Spirit week remains in place. This is a fantastic finish to the term, led by our senior students. Fun events will be run during lunch throughout the week to reinforce our House Spirit. All proceeds from this week go to our House Charities.
- Friday 30th September is a practical day for senior students. Targeted senior students will be required onsite to help them catchup after the disruption they have experienced across the year, in advance of completing their assessments. All other year levels will be rostered home to enable students full access to our staff and workshops. Full details will be shared closer to the day.
This term, students have been out of school much more than normal, and I am relieved to see evidence of illness decreasing in our community. I look forward to improved attendance through the remainder of this term, as we know how much of a difference this makes to the learning progression of our students.
I want to finish by saying thank you to my staff, who have put in a lot of extra mahi this year. They have been so supportive of each other and our students as we deal with an unprecedented quantity of disruption. If you want to say thanks, please write to email@example.com. Staff receive your commendation on a certificate and go into our regular draw for acknowledgement. We really enjoy hearing positive feedback from the community and students and I encourage you to drop us a note, it certainly helps lift our spirits.
Ngaa mihi nui