Board of Trustees Newsletter

Term 2, 2018


Kia ora tatou!

Nga mihi mo te tau hou Maori! - Maori New Year's Greetings!

As the second term draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to thank our teachers, support staff, students and community for their support and commitment to the school.  We recognise its been a challenging time for students and teachers during the school term with the school’s ongoing building issues, so we hope you enjoy your well-deserved break over the holidays.

Thankfully, with the amazing support of the school community, we feel the school has finally turned a corner in addressing both our short-term and long-term property needs. We apologise for the anxiety caused by the school’s property problems, but the Board is confident that we will progressively see improvements to our school over the next couple of years.

We've already seen a number of positive initiatives come to fruition within the school, the opening of the Tawatawa-Vogelmorn Bike Track and the development of the school's language strategy (thanks to Sondra Bacharach and Rebecca Wilson for leading this work). The Board has also recently agreed to establishing a French Bilingual Unit in 2019 and welcomed two new members on to the Board.

For more information about the school's property development plans and the various school initiatives noted above please read the rest of our newsletter or/and check out our school website.

Finally, we'd like to thank everyone again for all their efforts during the term. Students, support staff, teachers, parents/carers and the wider school community have been instrumental in the change that we want and hope to see for our school. Thanks also to Kamaea Tukaki-Gallagher who has decided to step down from the Board.

Enjoy the school holidays with loved ones and see you next term.

Richard Ngatai

On behalf of the school Board of Trustees

Building update

Tēnā koutou katoa, my name is Rachel Kirkman and I joined the Board of Trustees earlier this year as a parent representative. I have two daughters at Ridgway School, Kate in year 6 and Alex in year 3. I have taken on the role of being the Board's representative for property matters, including liaising with the Ministry of Education.

Over the last few months the Board, teachers and parents have written to the Ministry of Education, Minister Hipkins and our local MP Paul Eagle to raise their concerns and frustrations regarding the ongoing issues with the school’s buildings. On behalf of the Board I would like to acknowledge and thank those parents and teachers who have done this, and I hope you will be encouraged to hear that the Ministry of Education have now apologised both verbally and in writing to the Board for the delays in funding improvements to the infrastructure at Ridgway School. The Ministry has now made a financial commitment to fund work at the school and appointed a Project Delivery Manager to oversee the process, which is beginning immediately.

Building Condition reports have recently been obtained for all three teaching Blocks to inform the scope of works required. Investment at the school will replace the defective relocatable Blocks C and F which are considered to be at end of life. There will also be further work to remediate and modernise the Main Block.

The full scope of work will be developed over the coming months based on an Education Brief which the Principal, Board and Ministry will develop collaboratively. This Education Brief will be used by architects to ensure the proposed design aligns with school’s education vision and pedagogy. As with any large building project, it will take some months to complete the design, consultation and consenting process.  As part of the process, designs will be presented and discussed at a community meeting.

The progression of this redevelopment work will not alter the urgent building work to the Room 1 roof and Junior toilets in the main block, which we are currently in the process of acquiring a builder for. Nor will they alter the Board's intention to develop a new sandpit and shaded area, which we hope will follow quickly on the heels of the urgent building work. Both of these upgrades will be accommodated in any new design for the main block.

Finally, I would like to thank Phil Tai, another Ridgway parent who has volunteered his time and expertise, who will join myself and Kathryn as part of the Project Steering Group working with the Ministry. If there are any other parents or community members who wish to provide advice or guidance to the Board on property matters, please let us know, it would be gratefully received.  

We will continue to keep you updated on the project’s progress via the Building Update link on the homepage of the School’s website, and via newsletters.  You are welcome to talk to myself, Phil, Kathryn or any board member about this redevelopment work, or contact us on

Language Strategy Consultation

During this Term Ridgway School consulted with the community about our Languages Strategy.

The strategy aims to provide a framework that links our language learning opportunities within a cohesive framework.  The Languages Strategy (draft) has 3 strands:

  1. Whole-School Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori Knowledge
    1. within everyday learning programmes
    2. linked to other aspects of the curriculum
    3. increased support for teacher professional development provided
  2. Stand-alone language learning e.g. Mandarin
  3. Bilingual Learning Opportunities e.g. French Bilingual class*
    1. Following the NZ curriculum
    2. No extra cost to the school or disadvantage to other students
    3. Bilingual class students (and families) fully engaged with all aspects of school and community life.

*proposed French bilingual class is in response to a request from Unité Bilingual to set up a class at Ridgway school.  Other bilingual classes could be opened also if there was sufficient demand.

The board published the Languages Strategy (draft) and invited members of our community to read it and offer feedback.  Feedback could be given in various ways

  1. Directly to the principal or board members
  2. At a consultation meeting held at the school
  3. Via an online survey

The school also sought feedback directly from our Whānau hui group and from our German parent group.

Consultation findings:

  • There is support for language learning at Ridgway School.
    • There is strong support for teaching te reo Māori.
    • There is a portion of the community who feel passionate about the need for language learning options, in addition to te reo Māori.
  • Views on how languages should be taught varied.
  • Learning about cultures (NZ and others) is very important to our cummunity.

Board of Trustees response

Based on the feedback received from our consultation the board have decided to;

  • Revise the Languages Strategy so that it also reflects the value our community place on cultural learning.
  • Provide increased professional development for teachers to support their learning in te reo Māori, so that they can strengthen their teaching in this aspect of our curriculum.
  • Establish a French bilingual class in 2019.

Bilingual French Unit to be established in 2019

Following a consultation process with our community and careful consideration of how it fits within our vision for learning at Ridgway School, the board have decided to open a French bilingual unit.  This unit will open at the beginning of term one 2019.

There is a strong demand for this unit from families with a French-speaking background from across the Wellington region.  There is also potential for children from non-French speaking families to attend. Ridgway School will employ a New Zealand registered teacher who is bilingual in French and English. Students who are part of the bilingual unit will learn the New Zealand Curriculum in French for 60% of the time and join the rest of the school for classes in English for the remaining 40%.  The unit will be a composite class (like the other classes at Ridgway) made up of students of various year groups.

Some of the benefits to our wider school community include roll growth (which would help support our upcoming renovation projects as these are funded on roll size), the opportunity to learn French outside the bilingual unit and greater knowledge and understanding of another culture.

Funding for the French bilingual unit will be generated by students in the class. The Ministry of Education will fund the teacher and teaching resources will be provided by FRENZ (a charity which promotes bilingual French education). Children enrolled in our French bilingual class will pay a yearly fee to FRENZ, who will ensure that all necessary equipment and learning resources are supplied to this class.

This is an exciting opportunity for the school, and we look forward to welcoming students to the unit in 2019.

Take care over the holidays and we look forward to seeing you all in Term 3.

Ridgway School Board of Trustees.

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