Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,


What a busy week this week will be.  It was a fitting beginning that the week started with Pentecost Sunday and that this was the final week of preparation for the children who will be confirmed tonight.


A huge thank you to the parents who led the preparation lessons and to Mrs Simmons and Father Michael for the huge effort that they put in to co-ordinate the programme.  Today Bishop Colin has come to our school to meet with the pupils and to hold a practice for tonight’s Confirmation celebration.


Wednesday and Thursday see us holding our initial interviews to support the written reports on National Standards, send out last week.  I encourage all parents to attend these interviews, as sometimes more information can be gained from an interview rather than a written report due to the ability to engage in dialogue.  It also shows the pupils that school and home are working together to achieve great things for them.


I have also timetabled an opportunity for the parents of Year Six pupils to meet with me and discuss our

programmes for the 2013 senior school.  This is a great opportunity for me to highlight the great things gong on in the senior school and the range of opportunities that we offer our Year Seven and Eight

pupils, and to hear any thoughts and suggestions that you may have.


Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Monday, May 21, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The recent National government’s plan to lift class sizes and introduce performance pay is a huge concern to all teachers, school Board of Trustees but most importantly to us as parents.

Many schools will lose teachers or at the very least have their staffing negatively effected to a significant degree which will simply mean a lot more children in each individual class with less scope to support children who are finding learning a struggle.

I wish I could believe that the people who are advocating lifting class sizes to over 30 pupils in the junior school had taught in these conditions or had been a parent of a child in these classes but I am relatively confident in saying that they won’t have.  I taught in a Private school in the U.K. where parents paid huge fees to ensure that their children were in small classes and the level achievement that these children attained was exceptional compared to the state school pupils who routinely had 30 plus per class.

When I returned to New Zealand I found that class sizes had decreased to the levels that we currently have and that achievement was increasing accordingly, to a level that showed (as it still does) that New Zealand is a leading light in World Education.

The arguments put forward in support of the lifting of class sizes are, I believe purely economic.  No rational argument can be put forward to support that teaching 30 pupils will achieve better results than teaching 25, it’s simply not logical.  But the real shame if these changes come to pass is that the pupils who need extra support to achieve; the Governments so called long tail, will be exactly the pupils who will again miss out.

But I believe it is not too late to change the direction that these changes are head to as all politicians dislike not

being popular.  If enough people share my concerns at these proposed changes nation wide then perhaps this error will not come to pass.  If you want to let the Prime Minister know of your concerns them simply email him at john.key@parliament.govt.nz and share your concerns with him.


Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,


Winter sport is now in full swing and an initial scan of the feedback that I received in the health consultation forms confirms my initial thoughts that a very large number of our pupils play a winter sport.  In some rooms 100% participation is achieved, a very commendable achievement.

The debate rages in most sporting circles on what is the correct age for children to play sport with winning as the primary focus as opposed to developing skills and participation.  As a parent I have three children all involved in sports, and at very different stages.

My youngest plays a range of sports: Tball, football, miniball, flipperball and touch.  The model seems to me the best for children in the middle primary is football where the children meet up before hand and the coach runs a skills session then they play games on small modified fields. 

I’m sure that other sports run similar programmes and the ministicks hockey programme was also very successful.

My older two children both play in the premier division of the secondary boys and girls grades in their various sports, here winning is the aim.  One is coached by a highly experienced innovative coach who makes practice and the hard work needed to win fun, not everyone could get Grace to do a training

session at 6.40am.

 The thing to remember is that except in the highest echelon of sport, sport should be something that the child wants to do, it should be enjoyable, - yes challenging but not something onerous that they don’t want to do.

 Parents help by being enthusiastic and support, as the great American golfer Ray Floyd said “If I didn’t enjoy golf I wouldn’t be nearly as good”.

 Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,


In life there are two ways of rewarding or being rewarded for achievement, progress or participation: extrinsic rewards, where people receive a tangible symbol of their success, be it a trophy, plaque, certificate or even a gold medal.  Some extrinsic rewards, for example a university degree certificate, are obviously more than extrinsic rewards as they are also physical proof of attainment.  Where as a generic player of the day trophy that is won each week is a symbol of success attained in the short term.

The other type of reward is the intrinsic type, that is when you may receive an extrinsic reward but this is only secondary to the innermost feelings that you hold of success, pride and that your success was (to you) vital and essential.  People can feel both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarded at the same time, maybe if they win a sporting event, but while the extrinsic reward maybe lost or loose value over time the intrinsic rewards stays with you forever.

Someone can receive all of the extrinsic rewards imaginable; they can get gold cups, and have ticker tape parades held in their honour but if they don’t value their success and feel the value of the reward intrinsically their success is almost without value.

The challenge as parents and teachers is to get the mix of these correct when dealing with our children.  When they are little a certificate for player of the day or a small generic trophy can offer to them a feeling of achievement or success—an intrinsic reward.  But as they grow the requirement of achieving intrinsic success can be deeper and is based on what goals and aspirations the child/young adult has.

I have seen boys and girls selected in high representative teams who literally shrug their shoulders and say ‘whatever’, while these same people glow with pride when they beat their father at Chess or achieve a high grade in a class quiz.

There are highly ranked sportsmen and academics who don’t feel successful because they have not allowed themselves to be intrinsically rewarded while you will see other people in less auspicious positions who glow with pride because they value their successes.

Pride comes from within, and as parents and teachers of young children we set the tone for our children—we need to ensure that they set themselves honest and attainable goals and that they feel their success is valued.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Week two of Term Two for the year and the weather has suddenly changed, winter is upon us. It is with a sense of shock and real sadness that we acknowledge the untimely passing of Janine Will.

Janine is the mother of Maddy in Year Eight and Annalise who is in Year Eleven at Kavanagh College.  Janine has been a huge supporter of the school over a number of years, coaching, going of class trips and serving on the P.T.A.  I have very fond memories of Janine on school camps where she was always quick with a joke but was a very reliable helper.

 At times like this we ask why?  But I think what we need to do, rather is to try to support the Will family, Richard, Maddy and Annalise in this time of pain and sorrow, in what every way that we can.

 Many people in our community will be feeling shocked and upset, if you need someone to talk to them please contact the school or ring Father Michael on 489-7054, or 021 515 7189.


Mike Brosnahan.