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Nau mai, haere mai, talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, kia orana, warm greetings

I have spent the last two weeks attending two major conferences in Australia which highlighted where St Thomas’ and New Zealand education is placed internationally. I am pleased and proud to say we are very much at the forefront of a progressive and innovative system.

Last week I joined 38 principals from across the Canterbury region to spend 3 days in Brisbane visiting 4 schools, the Queensland Educational Leadership Institute and finally joining the Queensland Secondary Principals Conference. This time spent in Brisbane clearly demonstrated that the challenges we have faced in Christchurch over the last 9 years, in particular the Earthquakes and all the associated adversity in the aftermath, and more recently, the atrocity of the terrorism in March, has actually enabled educators across our region to enter a place that is further advanced in collaboration, collegiality and innovation that actually places us as leaders of a 21st education system.

There are many aspects of our system and our dynamic school, Hato Tamati, that we take for granted because it is our everyday. It is important to celebrate many of the small highlights that come together to make our rich culture emerge that provide our young men with the holistic, innovative, optimistic, inclusive, experience they live in their time at St Thomas’.

This week I have spent 3 days in Melbourne joining 48 Principals across New Zealand and Australia representing Edmund Rice schools. The time was led and facilitated by internationally renowned futurist thinker, Sohail Inayatullah. We were challenged to think about the place of schools and, in particular, our schools with an Edmund Rice Charism in the year 2030 and beyond. For all of us it was confronting and challenging, on a local level the work we have done as a school including, technological advancement, cultural responsiveness, integrated curriculum, 21st century skills based learning, student agency, differing learning environments, restorative practices, has St Thomas’ well placed to enter the futurist space.

The last two weeks will be a starting point as we open up dialogue and consultation around formulating our three year strategic plan. I look forward to working with our community in gathering voice on the future direction of our community. I feel we are very well placed to move forward into the future.

Tuesday was Catholic Schools Day, in which we combined with OLV and Villa Maria for a day celebrating our faith in relationship with our fellow catholic schools. Mass on Tuesday morning was a fantastic celebration of our Catholic community It was a beautiful occasion watching the three schools come together and lead the mass as a community. In this newsletter is a fantastic you tube clip showcasing this wonderful day.

I would like to thank our parent and student community for supporting our teaching community as they enter industrial action to work towards better conditions that will, in the long term, attract more young people to our profession and improve the ability of teachers to educate and develop the young people in our care.

We have had a fantastic fun filled week celebrating Samoan language week. The week started well with celebration at assembly through language and song completely student led. As the week progressed we have wonderful examples of Samoan culture including music, sports, food, and language. I would like to congratulate our parents, staff and students for working together to showcase Samoan culture.

We have had a golden fortnight of sporting results which has seen our 1st XI win the Connectics shield, our 1st XV with a historic victory over CBHS, our 1st V into the top 4 of the Thompson trophy and our U15 rugby team win and retain the Challenge shield. To top this off, we had Year 9 student Daniel Prescott win the Canterbury Cross Country Championships.

I finish this newsletter with a message of hope and optimism Often young people, schools and the future are reported negatively in that the past were the “good old days”. What we see in working with young people on a daily basis fills us with hope. The level at which our young people think and the issues that they concern themselves with shows a deep empathy for others and the environment they live in. I believe part of the courage that leaders in schools need centers around allowing our young people to have a strong voice, and an opportunity to lead us into the future.