The Ponatahi Christian School Prospectus
ROUTINE SCHOOL MATTERS
The School Day:
The bell for morning assembly goes at 8:25. There are then two periods of 45 minutes each from 8:45 to 10:15. Morning interval is from 10:15 to 10:35. This is followed by one 50 minute period and one 45 minute period from 10:35 to 12:10. Lunchtime is then for 50 minutes. In the afternoon there are two 50 minutes periods from 1:00 to 2:40. All primary and college classes should be finished by 2:50 pm, after closing the day with Bible reading and prayer in their home class.
Although the college classes keep fairly strictly to the above times, there is some flexibility for the younger primary classes at the discretion of the teacher.
It is a legal requirement for all students aged 6-16 to attend school and the school principal is mandated by the Education Act to uphold this. Unless the student is ill on the day, school clearance is needed for a student to be legally absent. Failure to comply with this is breaking the law. Please consider also the final week of a term. It may be tempting to have an extended holiday but there are often many assessments in the final week of a term and when students are absent it is difficult to measure their progress to identify their learning needs.
Procedure for notifying absences.
All students’ absences must be notified either by phone call or a written note. Any absences for any reason other than sickness should be by prior arrangement with the principal.
If a child is ill then a written note or phone call should be made to the office by 8.45am. If a child is found to be absent without notification, then the office is expected to ring home by 9:00, but this should be a rare occurrence.
The oldest sibling passing on a written note from the parent is acceptable, but a sibling passing on a verbal message is not sufficient.
All students are given a weekly text from the Bible (KJV only) to learn by heart. It has been found that the increased academic ability of senior students to retain notes in their heads alone justifies this policy. However the main reason is that we hope and pray that the LORD may be pleased to bless the substance of the verse to the hearts of the young people. The length of text varies from a few words for the young primary to longer texts for the college students who could also be building up gradually the knowledge of a reasonably long passage.
We believe that if we do our job well as teachers there does not need to be much formal homework set. We want children to enjoy their learning experience and not be put off school by having to complete a lot of homework which has little academic value other than task completion. Nevertheless homework does have a place. It encourages good habits in the children, it provides good opportunities for the home and school to work together and it does provide children to learn with an adult beyond the opportunities available at school. The reading books sent home with younger primary children are an essential component of our successful reading programme. The rote learning of mathematical facts and spelling words is also a key ingredient throughout the primary school. In all, we would be disappointed if primary students are spending more than 30 minutes, and college students more than one hour, per night on regular homework. One thing that must be pointed out is any homework set, but not completed, is a formal discipline situation.
At college level formal homework expectations may include completing classwork which the student was not fast enough to complete in class so that in the following period all students are at the same point. Yet the most important homework at college level is not the formal completion of a task which can be checked by the teacher to be finished. The most important part of college homework, especially at the senior level, is reading over anything learned during the day to ensure that it is well understood. If any concept taught in any subject during the day is not understood within 30 minutes intense study, it should be brought to the teacher’s attention the next day. For the majority of students this is the difference between struggling to scrape “achievement level” or really doing well at the more serious academic subjects. Very few are going to “fail anyway” and very few are going to “get excellence anyway”, so all college students, and parents, should take note of the sentences highlighted above.
Reporting to Parents
Primary assessment folders can be expected at the end of terms 1 & 3. Y1-8 National Standards reports can be expected at the end of terms 2 & 4. Y9&10 assessment folders and Y11-13 NCEA assessment summaries can be expected at the ends of terms 1, 2 & 3. All students have a formal report at the end of term 4.
Children have the legal right to attend school from their fifth birthday and must be attending from the age of six. Since 2013, the BOT has allowed a child turning five during the first term to start at the beginning of the year. For terms 2-4, the child may start at the beginning of the term if his/her birthday is in the first half of the term. In other cases the BOT requests the parents wait until the start of the following term. If it is clear to school management that the child is not emotionally ready then the parents will be asked to wait until the next intake. Parents’ understanding on this matter has been a factor in the success of the new entrant classroom.
All items of essential stationery can be purchased through the school at virtually cost price. Purchases may be on credit, with accounts regularly going home.
We prefer it if students do not carry money on them during school time.
Confectionery and Energy Drinks
Confectionery is not permitted at school except in the senior common room or birthdays when some may be shared around the class. Confectionery includes soft drinks, lollies, chocolate and chocolate-coated bars and chips. Energy drinks are not permitted at any time, including school trips. The reality is, however, that we are not going to inspect children’s lunchboxes for food which the parents think is appropriate. Yet this rule will be referred to whenever a child visibly flaunts confectionery or otherwise elicits peer pressure.
The school has access to hearing and vision testing services, psychological services, and vaccination services. In all cases it is health department policy to obtain written permission from the parents before any health professional works with a student. In all cases parental values are respected by the school.
Every year all new Year 1 students are screened for vision and hearing and Year 7 students are screened for vision including possible onset of colour blindness. In addition any student due for a retest is screened, as is any student recommended by the parents or school (with parental permission). Parents receive a report on any concern detected
Students’ Safety and Privacy
- To avoid misinterpretation of intentions, it is school policy to avoid all physical contact between staff and students unless it is absolutely necessary for immediate health and safety. And even here gender issues are to be considered in matters like first aid. Similarly there should be no physical force applied to a student except in immediate safety or emergency situations.
- An exception to the point above is a young primary student seeking comfort or reassurance from a female staff member, which we endorse.
- The school respects the Privacy Act as regards the transfer of information about a student to any person or party not directly associated with the student at school (i.e., anyone other than a parent or other teacher).
- To uphold the dignity of the student, there shall no search be made of the person of a student by a staff member. The principal may ask a parent to come in to assist if necessary. In all practicality we are unlikely to even want to search a student except in a matter that is serious enough to involve the police (e.g.: suspected drugs, weapon, or substantive stolen property). And then the police, who have their own guidelines, may be called to assist if the student does not cooperate.
- Searches of students’ property such as his/her bag by a staff member may only be carried out if the student has had opportunity to be present, and when there is a reasonable ground to suspect that the student has hidden something like drugs, a weapon, or stolen property. No random or class-wide searches. (Desks and lockers are not “private property” for the purpose of this policy, even though these areas are generally respected as a student’s personal space).
- In general we expect all staff members to be professional enough to relate to a student in a manner that upholds their personal dignity and makes them feel safe in their learning environment.
Each year some senior students are chosen for this important task. Every interval and lunchtime there should be one teacher and one prefect on playground supervision at any one time. Prefects also have an important role at the bus stops, on the bus, before school, and at interval. They work according to a set of guidelines, and from their side are expected to act in a manner that makes it easy for younger children to respect them. The prefects have regular meetings with the Principal. We expect all students to obey the prefects at all times. One of the prefects is chosen to be the head prefect for the year. His/her main duty is to organise the other prefects.
The Matthew 18 principle applies: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Matthew 18:15,16.
When you feel that it is necessary to raise an issue about a teacher’s conduct, particularly in regard to discipline imposed upon your child, then please proceed in the following manner:
Step 1: Discuss the issue with the teacher concerned (phone will do), away from the hearing of the child. Often this will already shed a different light on things.
Step 2: If not satisfied then contact the Principal.
Step 3: If still not satisfied then approach a BOT member.
Please avoid the following practices which lead to division and are counter-productive for school discipline
- Making a conclusion before consulting the teacher and worse still, reacting to this in front of the student and/or “overruling” the discipline imposed by the school. (Any change to discipline imposed must come through the proper channels, otherwise it may be re-imposed by the Principal before the child is allowed back in the class).
- Comparing the discipline imposed in one case to that of another in which you are not involved as a parent and not aware of all circumstances.
- Directing a complaint about one staff member to another staff member. It is likely to be counter-productive anyhow as teachers do support each other.
In cases of alleged serious misconduct by a staff member then the correct procedure is to directly inform the BOT chair or principal in writing. No matter will be formally entered into unless it is in writing and neither will any anonymous complaint be entered into.
Damaged Equipment and Broken Windows etc.
Generally speaking, if a student breaks or damages property while performing a routine task or doing an activity allowed by the school, then the school pays for the damage. However, if the student was disobeying instructions at the time or acting in an obviously careless manner, then the student has to pay for the damage.
Damage to Text Books and Library Books
The school has invested a large amount of funds into text books and library books over the years. A student who loses or damages a school book, beyond fair wear and tear, is likely to be charged for it. A $10 processing fee is added for lost or damaged library books due to the work involved and the extra costs associated with purchasing and transporting single items.
Parent Access to Students During School hours
In most cases the following guidelines apply:
- A parent may phone a message for a child at any time, but the child may not always be given permission to personally come to the phone.
- A parent may come to the school office to request access to student files, upon reasonable notice.
- Parents may take their children away during lunchtime upon informing the school office.
- Parents are discouraged from meeting their children during classroom time. However, if the parent insists, then the child will be removed from class to meet the parent.
- “Parent” means those who have legal custody of the child(ren). Any person who does not have legal custody of the child(ren) will not be given any access except with permission of the legal guardian. This is a legal requirement and can be a major issue in secular schools who regularly have to deal with the sad consequences of broken families and the “other” parent trying to see children at school.
Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse
It is the policy of this school to fulfil its legal obligation in respect to the reporting of child abuse that may have occurred to any school pupil outside school hours. Hence the Principal has the responsibility to ensure that any suspected child abuse (whether physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect) is reported to either the Children, Youth, and Family Service or to relevant church elders. If reported to church elders and satisfaction is not reached, then the case will be referred to CYFS.
The Principal and staff have the responsibility to ensure that the identity of any informant remains confidential to the staff member concerned and the office of the Principal.
Students with living headlice may not attend school. Such students are deemed to be absent for health reasons. When there is a suspected outbreak of headlice, any student in the affected class or whole school may be examined by office staff or other volunteers during school time. Any parent not happy with this policy must be available to come and inspect children on request or be willing to fund a medical practitioner to do so. If you wish to be a volunteer head lice inspector then please contact the school.
Regular head lice checks are routinely carried out in the first week of each term, and more often if there have been recent outbreaks.
Office staff have the primary responsibility for first aid. The office staff have current first aid certificates and have well-stocked first aid supplies at their disposal. In the event of a student requiring further treatment, parents are informed and, if necessary, the student will be taken to the Carterton Medical Centre or an ambulance will be called. Teaching staff members have current first aid certificates which are renewed every two years, and senior college students also undertake formal first aid certificate training every second year.
Smoke Free Policy
School property, buildings and vehicles are out of bounds for smoking by all people at all times. This includes school time, outside school hours, and holidays. This policy covers all people, including visitors to the school and trades people.
Cell Phone Policy and Other Electronic Devices
Students must not have in their possession or use cell phones, from the opening school bell, 8:25 am to being dismissed in the afternoon around 2:50 pm, or on the school bus. Any cell phone seen or heard during this time will be confiscated and kept secure for one week on the first offence and up to one term for a subsequent offence. Students needing a cell phone before or after school may keep it in their bag, locker, or hand it to the school office. Cell phones may be permitted on some school trips which extend outside school hours. Please refer to the letter given out prior to the school trip.
Other than a calculator, or camera when given permission, students are not allowed any other hand held electronic devices during school time. This includes any time under school supervision, the bus, and school trips. If a student needs to use their cell phone to contact home or their employer there is a window of opportunity immediately before school or after school before the bus leaves. Any other time requires specific permission to avoid confiscation. As messages can be given to students through the school office, for the greater part students do not need cellphones at school. Parents who allow their children to bring a cellphone to school must be aware of that they are setting up the potential for a confrontation as no student likes his or her cellphone confiscated, and failure to meekly surrender the device will be a serious breach of discipline.
Playing Sport for other schools
In the Wairarapa primary sport is provided by the clubs and secondary team sport is provided by the colleges. Local colleges are usually open to accepting our students into their teams on the understanding that we do not have the number to provide our own team, and that we are willing, where practical, to contribute to the volunteer work needed, rather than always relying of the volunteer support of others. Any student wishing to play sports for other schools should work through the principal. Although the student may be given a certain freedom of selecting which school to play for, the local college fraternity does prefer our students going to the smaller colleges like Kuranui, Chanel, and Makoura who are often struggling for numbers to complete their own teams. Then we can have a win/win relationship with the school concerned.
In recent years less and less of our college students seem to be interested in playing sports, with a much greater percentage of seniors now in paid employment outside school time. Generally this is a good thing, provided it does not interfere with study. See the highlighted note on page 35.
Students using motor vehicles, including motorbikes and scooters
Senior students are welcome to come to school driving cars or motorbikes, etc., provided all New Zealand transport laws are adhered to, regarding registration, licensing and passengers. We have plenty of parking. Just remember three basic rules we insist on, over and above NZ laws:
1. The motor vehicle is not to be used during school time, including lunchtime.
2. We will never allow any student to get into a motor vehicle driven by another student unless we have a written request from respective parents. (Younger siblings being transported to and from school excepted.)
3. Any “show off” behavior such as loss of traction, unsafe speed with children walking around, or a “loud exit”, etc., will result in the student being banned from using a vehicle on school grounds for a specified period.
Permission to leave the school grounds
Leaving the school grounds without permission during the school day is a serious discipline issue as it compromises our health and safety policies if we do not know where everyone is whom we are responsible for. And there could be all sorts of potential trouble for unsupervised children out there.
Year 12 and 13 students may leave the school grounds at lunchtime, as long they follow the correct sign-out procedure and adhere to a list of rules that they and their parents must sign. These rules are as follows:
1. The student participates fully in devotions at lunchtime with the home class.
2. The student signs out at the office and back in again in time for class.
3. Once back at school the “no confectionery” rule outside the common room remains.
4. The student does not use a motor vehicle unless the parents request it for a reason applying to a single day.
5. School uniform is to be worn at all times.
6. Normal school discipline applies.
7. General conduct in public will be of the highest standard to enhance the public image of the school and the name of Christ which we bear.
8. This arrangement does not change the BOT’s ruling that energy drinks are not permitted during school time or on any school trip.
9. Students not adhering to the above or causing others or themselves to break the “no confectionery” rule back at school are likely to have this permission suspended for a time or revoked.