Week 4; Term 4

Save the date:  Our Kids Online – Porn, Predators and How to Keep Them Safe

On Wednesday 25 November at 7pm we will be hosting a Parent, Teacher and Caregiver Information Evening for Marsden parents and members of our local community designed to help any adults with children in their lives gain a better understanding of some of the potential dangers our children face in the online world.  

This session will be presented by Rob & Zareen, a husband and wife film making team based in Lower Hutt, with four children between them.  While navigating the pros and cons of handheld devices in the current digital climate, they decided to start making documentaries and providing resources after discovering what children are accessing.  In particular, with regard to exposure to online pornography, predators and the effects on children's emotional and physical wellbeing, and providing recommended practical solutions to help them keep their children safer online.
Their documentary 'Our Kids Online: Porn, Predators & How to Keep Them Safe', has screened in NZ Parliament, and at the Department of Internal Affairs and at the NCOSE Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Annual Global Summit (which was held online this year due to Covid-19).  I have watched the documentary and feel that it is definitely something that parents of girls and boys of all ages, from Preschool through to our oldest students, will find thought-provoking and practical.  Note there is no nudity or porn clips in the film nor did they speak with anyone from the porn industry.  You can view the trailer here.

The session on 25 November will run for 90 mins and will explain and explore:
  • How easy it is for children to access porn and to be found by predators
  • How porn has changed in terms of the online impact as well as the increase in violent content
  • How to approach talking to children about sex at different ages, as a precursor to entering into porn awareness and predator safety conversations
  • The importance of a porn counter-narrative; love, connection, consent and respect
  • Guidance to resources, and
  • Q & A session
You will receive an invitation to this free event in the next couple of weeks, but I encourage you to pop the date in your calendar now as we are certainly coming up to a very busy time of year. 

I would be keen to hear about other topics that you may interested in as we plan our parent engagement events for 2021.
Old Girls Day 2020
On a very different note, this morning we hosted around 90 Marsden Old Girls at various Old Girls Day events including a communion service, assembly, morning tea and school tours.  Old Girls Day is a special day in the school calendar – and until this year it was one that we assumed would just always happen - that we would get to this day at the end of October or early November and have the Auditorium jam-packed with students and Old Girls.  A few months ago it was looking like that may not be able to happen but we are very grateful that, right now, we are in a time of relative safety, and we were able to gather together as the extended Marsden family.  I guess we could have made 2020 Old Girls Day happen in some way over Zoom or through Google Meets if we had to, but I don’t think that it would have been very satisfactory.  In fact it probably would have been particularly unsatisfactory, as the special thing about Old Girls Day is the opportunity for Old Girls to be here, and be together.  Students who were in the 4th form (Year 10) in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 joined us today and we thank them for taking the time to come back, catch up with each other, and find out a little bit about the Marsden of 2020.

Week 3; Term 4

What a week!  We have been making up for lost time with a jam-packed schedule of social and educational events for students, parents and our Primary and Preschool grandparents dominating this week at Marsden.  The amount of positive energy around the school has been extraordinary and it is clear that, despite the difficulties of 2020 (we all know that there has been loss and disappointment), the spirit of the school is strong.  I am so grateful to our Year 13 students for the way they have led through the challenges of 2020.  While every member of the school community plays an important role in perpetuating the Marden culture, our Year 13s certainly carry the biggest load… they hold the culture of the school and hand it down.  There was some chance that the Marsden spirit could have been lost or diminished this year, but it is so clear that it hasn’t been, and that is because of the exceptional leadership of this group of young women.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch the video of House Music on Tuesday, take a few minutes to watch it.  You will definitely see what I mean about energy!

Our Year 13 students now move into the next phase of their schooling journey.  This year will be a little different in response to feedback from lockdown indicating that many of them found independent learning productive and well suited to their learning styles.  We know that the workplace and tertiary study environment is changing and now offers much greater flexibility, including work from home options.  With this in mind, we have offered the Year 13 girls the privilege of opting into a semi-independent programme over the next few weeks, before their classes formally end on 9 November.  We hope that this additional flexibility is useful preparation for their futures, when they will have personal responsibility for managing their daily commitments.

On Wednesday night we celebrated the achievements of our Year 13s in the sporting and cultural arenas at our Awards Evening.  The 2020 format was different to previous years, and some of our usual awards, including ‘Sportswomen of the Year’, were off the agenda due to the impact of COVID-19 on schedules and fixtures.  We did not award Sports and Cultural Colours for students in Years 7 – 12 due to the fact that these are awards which go across different sporting codes and cultural activities, and it is very difficult to award them fairly this year when not all students have had equal opportunity to meet the criteria.  When these are next awarded in 2021, the qualification time period will span two years (September 2019 to September 2021) and achievement will be recognised with a special 2020 - 2021 award. 

From here things settle down a little with the focus on the academic programme in the run-up to the end of the year. We also look towards next year with the election of the 2021 student leadership team. Yesterday the school was privileged to hear 12 candidates for Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl speak to us.  The prompt for their speeches was a quote from Dr Ashley Bloomfield at our recent Year 12 mother daughter dinner, “Leadership is a call to collective action”.  The quality of their presentations leaves me in no doubt that the leadership of the school will continue to be in great hands next year.

Week 2; Term 4

It has been great to welcome a large group of new students and their families to Marsden this week for the beginning of Term 4.  Aavin Withanage and Ryan Ferris have joined the Preschool.  The Primary School has had an exciting week welcoming Isabelle Tucker who has moved up from Preschool into Year 1, Jessica Mann and Christie Keller in Year 4, Grace Lee in Year 5 and Tilly Holt and Marla Saunt-Lord in Year 6.  The Primary girls are also enjoying the last finishing touch to the refurbishment of the common spaces in the Primary building… some bright ‘stepping stones’ which have been inserted into the new carpet are proving to be great fun.  Cece Chen has also joined us in Year 9.  I hope that all of our new students and their families have had the opportunity to experience the warmth of our community this week.

On the topic of community, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching a Marsden version of the app ‘Directory Burst’ for our parents at the beginning of next year.  This will give those parents who opt in to share phone and email contacts within our community, a convenient and easy way to keep in touch with other parents in their class or year level.  We also looking forward to working with our amazing parents and other volunteers on the 2021 Marsden Gala.  The plan this stage is for a slightly smaller than usual ‘Pop Up Gala’, to be held on Sunday 14 March.  Our ‘signature’ stalls including the Deli and Designer Fashion will definitely be front and centre.  Aside from the fundraising aspect, one of the benefits of the gala is the ‘friend-raising’ that occurs as a result of groups of people working to bring stalls together and then to enjoy the success and buzz of the day.  It is a great way for parents to get to know each other.

We are currently looking for new ideas for the ‘Pop Up Gala’ and also for parents or other volunteers who would be willing to put their hand up at this stage to coordinate a stall or activity.  The school provides lots of logistical support for this event so that the workload for volunteers is reduced.  We would really love all of our families to be involved in some way to make this event a big success.  If you are willing to help, please contact our Community Development Director Martine Foster  What would be great at this stage would be a quick email to Martine along the lines of:

“I am willing to get a group from my year class/year level together to work on …..”
“Have you thought about doing …. ?  I would be willing to offer some help or guidance with this”
“I’m pretty busy at the moment so getting involved in the planning may be difficult, but I would be very happy to help out on the day for a couple of hours so please put me down on that list”.

Even though it has been a somewhat disrupted year, our 2020 ‘Word From Marsden’, available in digital form here and distributed in hard copy today to the eldest child in each family, allows us to reflect with great pride on all that has been achieved in this extraordinary year. I am thrilled with the quality of the publication and how beautifully it captures the Marsden spirit. I hope you enjoy reading it.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Week 1; Term 4

It was wonderful to end Term 3 on a high note with the easing of restrictions allowing us to have a full assembly and also to welcome parents and guests back onto the campus.  Highlights were the ‘Kiwiana’ play performed in the Auditorium by our Year 1 and 2 students, the Primary Baptism and Communion Service on the last day of term, and the Year 12 Mother Daughter Dinner, with guest speaker and past Marsden parent, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.  Dr Bloomfield spoke to the girls about how he personally approaches leadership, and I am sure that his notion of leadership as a ‘collective call to action’ is one that this group of girls will take forward as they lead the school in 2021.  We were so appreciative of how generous Dr Bloomfield was with his time, and the girls appreciated the photo opportunities too!

Term 4 at Marsden is traditionally one filled with deep learning, both inside and outside the classroom, exams for our senior students, and the major events that celebrate the year that has been.  This year will be even busier with some major events such as House Music for Years 7 – 13, the Year 11 Dance, the Year 12 & 13 Semi-Formal, and the Year 13 Father Daughter Breakfast pushed into Term 4 as a result of Alert Level 2 restrictions.

Please see the dates below for our Primary and Years 7 – 13 Prizegiving events and make sure that you have them noted correctly in your diary as they do not follow the traditional sequence this year.  We made the change to ensure that we are able to access the Michael Fowler Centre for the Years 7 – 13 prizegiving.  We are looking forward to an event that once again showcases both performance and achievement.

Monday 7 December 7.30pm Year 7 – 13 Prizegiving at Michael Fowler Centre

Tuesday 8 December 1.30pm Primary Celebration in the Marsden Auditorium

We will be starting this term with a Teacher Only Day.  Staff from across the school will be participating in professional development led by Tamsin Hanly, a Professional Teaching Fellow in the Education faculty of Auckland University.  Tamsin has researched, designed and written a Curriculum Programme Resource (CPR) titled A critical guide to Māori and Pākehā histories for adults to read, to learn some accurate histories, Treaty, Māori and Pākehā knowledge.  The CPR is a practical tool to help schools meet all their various Treaty obligations more effectively.  This session will set us up for an ongoing exploration of the Treaty and its relevance to our work.

I look forward to seeing our students back on Tuesday 13 October for the start of Term 4.

Narelle Umbers

Week 9; Term 3

As we approach the end of term, many of us, students and staff alike, are looking forward to the opportunity to settle down with a good book over the holidays.  It is a tradition for Marsden staff to have a morning tea in the iCentre in the final week of each term, and most of us walk away armed with a pile of ‘holiday reads’.  It is also a time when many of our students also load up their school bags with books to be enjoyed.

The importance of deep reading was highlighted to me in an article in Education Review.  Professor Rosemary Ross Johnston observes it is ironic that, with the prevalence of technology, we seem to be turning into slick readers, skating over the top of words, rather than deep readers, diving for their richness, at a time when researchers from multiple disciplines — not only in literary studies and education, but in psychology, paediatrics and neuroscience — are stressing both the importance of reading (and of reading stories), and the positive effects of reading on the brain.

Research by Carnegie Mellon University scientists shows that an intensive six-month daily reading programme in children aged 8 to 10 causes the brain to physically rewire itself, as well as increasing the volume of white matter in the language area of the brain, improving communication within the brain.

But it is not just that increased participation in reading makes children good readers and better students.  Professor Ross Johnston cites several examples of research showing that reading has positive effects on a person’s wellbeing.  Research by Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy has found that reading a novel can cause persisting changes in connectivity and brain function, as well as improving a reader’s empathy.

This is backed up by the research of Canadian academics, Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar, who have found that people who are frequent readers of fiction are better at understanding other people, empathising with them, and seeing the world from their perspective.

“Deep literacy,” argues Ross Johnston, “nurtures the imaginations and minds that generate civil societies.”  Her advice to us as educators and parents is to observe and teach observation; model looking at details; encourage curiosity and a sense of wonder; question and imagine; exercise and practise thinking and its articulation; and encourage a sense of play.  Above all, however, educators and parents should encourage and model deep reading.  Not only will deep reading encourage empathy — something that Ross Johnston says seems even more valuable in this “tangled and sometimes angry world” — but deep literacy will encourage something that genuinely matters and is much needed today: “a generosity of spirit that is mindful and respectful of others”.

And, on the topic of ‘generosity of spirit’, a big shout out to our wonderful Year 8 students who completed a total of 307 hours of community service in a single day last week, what an outstanding effort!

Enjoy the break.

Narelle Umbers

A final reminder:
If your child is not returning to Marsden in 2021, please make sure you notify us by the end of this term (25 September) so that you avoid being charged fees in lieu of notice, and we can progress our planning for 2021.

Week 8; Term 3

Marsden’s Visible Wellbeing partnership with Professor Lea Waters has continued throughout 2020 and will extend into the early part of 2021 to allow us to finish the final staff training which has been delayed due to travel restrictions this year.
At the end of 2018, before the commencement of the partnership, we asked our staff and students some questions about wellbeing. These included questions such as ‘What do you think wellbeing is? What do you do to take care of your wellbeing? And, What do your teachers do in class to help boost your wellbeing? We will be re-visiting these questions early in Term 4 this year and will be looking for increased understanding and application of the pathways to wellbeing that make up the Visible Wellbeing SEARCH framework:

Strengths – using our personal characteristics that feel natural and enjoyable and allow us to perform at our best because they are energising and authentic to use.

Emotional Management – being present with our emotions and being about to identify, understand and manage them so that we can reduce our negative emotions and increase the positive ones.

Attention and Awareness – our wellbeing is improved when we are aware of and consciously direct our attention.

Relationships – working on our social skills to allow us to develop nourishing relationships with others and help our students understand, express and manage the social aspects of their learning.

Coping – being able to manage the demands of life with the resources we have to manage those demands, and being able to bounce back when we get thrown off balance.

Habits and Goals – knowing how to break bad habits and create good habits can help us progress towards our goals. When we set goals it can provide us with a sense of purpose, mastery and direction in life.

Our Visible Wellbeing journey and use of the SEARCH framework will not end with the conclusion of our formal two-year partnership. It will be something that we continue to work on and embed, and we are looking forward to analysing the responses to our checkpoint questions in Term 4, both as an indicator of progress and as a guide in our planning of the next steps in our wellbeing education journey.

Narelle Umbers

Week 7; Term 3

There is a lot of excitement in the Primary School today as friends and visitors join the girls for an ‘experience day’.  It is always great to see how even our very youngest students love being buddies for our visitors, how seriously they take the role, and how proud they are of their school.  Another highlight at this time of year for our Primary students has usually been the Father’s Day breakfast, which was scheduled to occur yesterday but is on hold as we wait for news about when we will be in Level 1 again.  Hopefully this will occur before Father’s Day is too much of a distant memory, because we certainly don’t want to miss this special event.

I always find that I have mixed feelings about days like Father’s Day as in some ways they can feel a bit contrived, but in other ways I appreciate them.  I do like the fact that Father’s Day serves as a reminder to make sure we make those phone calls to our dads, grandpas and other father figures in our life to recognise what they have done for us and express our gratitude.  It gives us an excuse to schedule family gatherings, and for those of us whose fathers or father figures are no longer with us, we are reminded to pause to reflect on what they taught us and the memories shared.

When I was primary school age, my family certainly resembled the stereotypical mid-twentieth century family with the ever present, doting mother who didn’t work outside the home and the breadwinner father, absentee father.  My Dad left for work before we were awake and arrived home every night at 6.25pm, in time for 6.30pm family dinner.  Every day one of us was sent to get his slippers a few minutes earlier, and Mum disappeared to put her lipstick on before he arrived.  I have often wondered how he managed to walk in every day at exactly 6.25pm, given he had a fairly significant commute across Melbourne.  Either there was so much less traffic back then that the timing was 100% predictable, or he pulled up somewhere to wait in the car if he was going to be early, so as not to disturb the routine.

My Dad might have been ‘absent’ for long working hours, but he also managed to be emotionally invested and active in my life, something that research tells us makes a world of difference in the lives of girls.  Not just biological dads or dads who are physically present, but also other father figures who develop strong relationships with girls as they grow up.  Sunday is a day to celebrate those relationships.

Narelle Umbers

A gentle reminder:
If your child is not returning to Marsden in 2021, please make sure you notify us by the end of this term (25 September) so that you avoid being charged fees in lieu of notice and we can progress our planning for 2021.
Finding a way through together

Our annual giving campaign continues to progress well with donations coming in from current and past families, Old Girls’ and friends of the school. Thank you to all of you who have already donated. Our total currently stands at $27,962 which is 55% of target amount.

Week 6; Term 3

By this time next week our Year 11 to 13 students will have commenced their mock exams.  This year these exams are being widely referred to as ‘Derived Grade Exams’, in recognition that the uncertainty created by the global pandemic has created heightened awareness that schools need to collect standard-specific, valid evidence to ensure their NCEA students have access to a fair assessment in the event that COVID-19 disrupts the final exams later in the year.  I encourage our girls to give these exams their best shot, but also to remember that one of the key purposes of mocks is to provide a reality check and to allow the girls to answer two key questions: Where am I at with my learning right now? and, What do I need to focus on to be where I want to be in November?

While there are so many major events still ahead of us for 2020, planning is already well underway for next year.  Our 2021 Curriculum Overview and Year Programmes for Years 7 to 13 were distributed today and outline our continued commitment to future-focused learning and ensuring our programmes are responsive to the challenges of the world beyond the classroom.

This year, more than ever, it is clear that we are preparing our students for an unpredictable future. Their resilience, flexibility, innovation, creativity, and curiosity will be the hallmark of their ability to thrive going forward.  Many of these skills have long underpinned our work and our students’ achievement. It is important that all of us, students, parents and teachers alike, understand their value and explicitly cultivate and celebrate them.

It is now time for girls and their parents to start discussing options for next year. For the majority of students, selection should be based around keeping options broad, enjoyable and individually challenging. If you are thinking about the relationship between subjects and careers, visit the careers page in My Marsden where there is a wealth of information.  It includes a section headed recommended school subjects, with recommendations from different New Zealand universities. Senior students may find this useful.

Our junior options are largely ‘tasters’ – many with a practical component, particularly in the arts and technologies. While languages must be taken as a full year option, many of the options run for a semester – giving students the option to explore a broader range of learning experiences. From those tasters, students can opt to pursue individual subjects at a deeper level, higher up the school.

We continue to offer a number of subjects where individual project-based learning is a key element. These programmes promote creativity, critical thinking, problem solving – and in the case of some, entrepreneurship.

The electronic subject choice form will be emailed to parents and caregivers. It is important to return subject choices by the due date as we begin building our 2021 timetable and determine our staffing needs based on that information. It is a complex process – but always stimulating to be looking ahead to the future!

Narelle Umbers

Week 5; Term 3

This term I am enjoying teaching Year 7 and Year 8 Digital Technologies in our wonderfully equipped ‘Waihanga’ (makerspace).  We have been focusing on robotics, coding and engineering challenges.  I have been so impressed by the way the girls tackle tricky problems, persist when things don’t work the first time (or the second or third time!), and also by how much fun they have designing and building things.

The experience has reminded me about a recent study of makerspaces in American co-educational schools that found troubling evidence that, despite one of their aims being to encourage girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), they are, in fact, highly-gendered environments dominated by male students.  While boys and girls were found to participate equally in makerspaces in primary school, girls’ participation halved to 25 per cent in the high school years.  In addition, boys were twice as likely to hold leadership positions in group makerspace activities, and were more likely to steer major projects such as robotics challenges or solar car design teams.

The 2018 study, carried out by researchers with Drexel University’s ExCITe Center for Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies, examined makerspaces offering formal (in-school) or informal (extra-curricular) programming within Preschool to Year 13 educational settings.  While clearly there are many positive aspects of makerspaces, the study also uncovered “the implicit bias embedded within emerging makerspace culture”, that also contributes to and reinforces gender disparities in makerspace student and instructor leadership.

Interviews with makerspace staff revealed the depth and pervasiveness of this bias, with instructors referring to male students as geeks (20), builders (18), designers (15) and engineers (13), but referring to female students as “girls” (92) or even “helpers” (11).  Only five instructors used the more gender neutral terms of entrepreneur (3), creator (1) or innovator (1).  The Drexel University researchers described this finding as “deeply unsettling”.

It is often said that co-educational schools provide a less gendered and more ‘real world’ experience for students, yet the highly-gendered nature of American makerspaces provides evidence that co-educational schools can unintentionally promote and reinforce sexist stereotypes, resulting in high school makerspaces being dominated by male students.  In a girls’ school, however, it is impossible for three-quarters of makerspace participants to be boys precisely because 100 per cent of students are female.  Girls lead all makerspace teams and competitions, and find the solutions to all of the mechanical and technical challenges that arise.

Girls’ schools also play a key role in role-modelling environments free from gender stereotypes where girls are taught STEM subjects and undertake STEM activities led by both male and female teachers who are well-versed in addressing implicit bias.  Leaders and staff in girls’ schools are careful to ensure that girls are not limited by outdated notions of what subjects or activities are ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’.  Our girls-only Waihanga — underpinned by a gender-neutral pedagogy that gives girls the skills and freedom to think, create, design and build — is just one of the very many positive benefits that our Marsden girls enjoy.
Finding a way through together
Our annual giving campaign continues to progress well with donations coming in from current and past families, Old Girls’ and friends of the school. Thank you to all of you who have already donated. Our total currently stands at $27,962 which is 55% of target amount.

Week 4; Term 3

2020 is going to go down as the year when so much didn’t go to plan, but when so much was still achieved. Thanks to a generous 18-month fellowship awarded by the Association of Girls’ Schools (Australasia) and supported by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (USA), our Academic Director, Margaret Adeane, has been given the opportunity to undertake research as part of a Global Action Research Collaboration. 

The collaboration has certainly hit some speed bumps along the way.  In regular Zoom meetings with her fellow researchers, she has found them grappling with extraordinary educational situations, due to the pandemic.  Their much anticipated first milestone was a June gathering in Philadelphia, which, of course, did not take place.  She is nonetheless enjoying an exceptional opportunity to work in a global bubble, with fellow teachers who share a commitment to enhancing girls’ education.  Here Margaret shares some information about her project…

“How do we encourage a ‘brave not perfect’ mentality in the context of project-based learning?  How do we feed back to grow creativity, resilience, and innovation skills for girls?  As we expand our project-based learning opportunities at Marsden, these challenging issues have bubbled up.

The future workplace is unpredictable.  Constant innovations in technology and digital culture require young people to be adaptable, innovative, curious, creative and resilient.  A willingness to experiment, to make mistakes, to learn, unlearn and relearn are strengths.  The project-based learning movement (PBL) taps into these skills and seeks to empower students as drivers of their own learning.  This PBL movement is global and gaining traction and at Marsden we have embraced the opportunities PBL offers to develop key 21st century skills.

For students, the personalised project is a far more scary proposition than conventional assessment, where teachers define the task and marking criteria.  How do you determine the boundaries and scope of your own project?  How do you know which direction to take it in?  What if it veers off in an unexpected direction?  What if it goes wrong? How do you know if it's any good?  These risks and unknowns make it challenging for students to select, shape, pursue and evaluate the success of a personal project. Understandably, it often feels safer to work with familiar material and create something that you've made, relatively successfully, before.

At Marsden we want students to take a braver approach to independent learning, harnessing their curiosity and creativity.  This school-wide goal has helped focus my Global Action Research Collaboration project.  Still in its early days, the project explores the power of feedback to encourage students to explore new territory with confidence and curiosity, to recognise and grow from setbacks and to articulate the benefits of their own learning.”

I thank Margaret for the way she is balancing this exciting project with school responsibilities in these uncertain times and I am confident that her research findings will help shape our project-based learning offerings, and better prepare our students for life beyond Marsden.

Narelle Umbers

Week 3; Term 3

Expanding student aspirations
One of our strategies to deliver against our goal of providing future-focused learning and teaching is to explicitly work to expand our students’ aspirations.  Across the last two years we have partnered with Swivel Careers to work with our girls in Years 10 – 13 on a number of different programmes, in groups and individually, and to provide an additional perspective from outside Marsden.
At the end of last term our Year 10 students experienced the ‘Defining Careers’ workshop.  The sole aim of this workshop was to broaden their minds and start to make them aware of all the choices they have and will need to make as they progress through school studies into tertiary study or any other career pathway. The Swivel facilitators encouraged them to be open minded to all the opportunities and each student worked through personal strategies as well as group tasks.  Swivel will be coming back in Term 3 to carry on working with the Year 10 group, and we are excited to see how the girls respond in the one on one sessions after completing this workshop.
Some of the student comments made throughout the workshops were; “I didn’t realise I had so many options”.  “I thought I had my mind made up but now I am unsure, as this session made me realise I have other options to consider”.  “I’m not as stressed as I was, I now know there will be something for me, and I still have time to find out what that is.”

Also on the careers front, we have an amazing range of speakers coming to our Careers Evening (please see here for information ) next Thursday 13 August. I encourage all Year 10 – 13 students and their parents to attend.

Finding a way through together
Our annual giving campaign continues to progress well with donations coming in from current and past families, Old Girls and friends of the school.  Thank you to all of you who have already donated.  Our total currently stands at $26,162, 52% of our target. 

Narelle Umbers

Week 2; Term 3

It was wonderful to welcome six new students to Marsden this week: Max Tucker in Preschool, Georgia Hogg in Year 3, Billie Nightingale and Eleanor Gollan in Year 5, Isabella Gollan in Year 6, and Sayuri Beesting and Maytal Noy in Year 7.  Our Primary students and staff were also very excited on Monday to see all the work that had been done over the holidays to refresh the primary building.  The girls love their new lockers.  The finishing touches to complete the project will add to this bright new look over the next few weeks.
It was also great to see so many of you at the informal parent social evening last night.  With many performances and other events returning this term we really look forward to welcoming you onto the campus more often to enjoy all that is on offer.
Sports, Cultural and Academic Awards 2020 
Our sports and cultural awards evenings are traditionally highlights of our calendar later in the year when we recognise the girls who have achieved excellence in their chosen endeavours or have given outstanding service to Marsden’s co-curricular programme.  Due to the fact that so many of the events which enable our students to qualify for these awards have been cancelled this year, we have consulted with staff, students and parents about how to fairly recognise student achievement in this disrupted year, and have made the following decisions: 
  • Sports and Cultural Awards will not be awarded in 2020 for students in Years 7 - 12.  When these are next awarded in 2021, the qualification time period will span two years (September 2019 to September 2021) and achievement will be recognised with a special 2020 - 2021 award.  The criteria for these awards have been temporarily updated to recognise this extended time period.  Sports awards criteria can be accessed here and cultural award information here.
  • Students in Year 13 2020 only will be invited to apply for sports and cultural awards this year and these will be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the opportunities that have been available to each student.  Year 13 students can access application forms for these awards from the above links.  Applications close on 16 September 2020.
  • The Marsden Awards Evening will be held at Marsden on Wednesday 21 October 2020 to present these and other awards gained by our students in 2020. 
Our Academic Awards are presented each year at our Scholars' Assembly.  The 2020 Academic Awards will be presented in the traditional way in Term 1 next year, but the criteria have been amended slightly to recognise the changes made to requirements by NZQA in response to the COVID-19 disruption.  The amended criteria for 2020 Academic Awards can be accessed here.
Finding a way through together
Our annual giving campaign got off to a great start in the final week of last term.  Thank you to all of you who have already donated.  Our total currently stands at $23,712 (47% of $50,000 target).

Narelle Umbers

Week 1; Term 3

I hope that the last three weeks have afforded your family time to have a break and re-charge for the new term.  It has been lovely seeing students around the school at sports clinics, NCEA workshops, in holiday programmes and in the pre-school.  We go into this term hoping that big events that the girls look forward to such as Grandparents’ Day in the Primary School and House Music for our Year 7 – 13 students will be able to go ahead as they bring such joy to our community.  That statement would have seemed very odd in a newsletter this time last year, but we now go forward with hope that has just a little tinge of uncertainty.  

In the uncertain economic environment that we find ourselves in I know that some of you may be faced with difficult decisions around your daughter’s schooling for 2021.  In order to support all of our families, the Marsden board has undertaken this year to provide information to you about our fees for next year by the end of August, rather than the usual timeframe of the end of November.  We hope that this will helpful. 

One thing that I really enjoy at this time of year is meeting with new students and their families as they go through the enrolment process for next year, and this has continued throughout the holidays.  As Marsden parents, you know that we value academic growth and personal growth equally, but this is often a concept that takes some unpacking with prospective parents.  When you look at our academic results, which are invariably the strongest in Wellington, you could assume that we must put intense focus on academic outcomes at the expense of everything else.  Our results are great, but I always argue that they are so great because, in fact, our focus is firmly on the wellbeing of each girl, on creating the conditions for her to flourish at school. 

There is often also a discussion about the particular benefits of an all girls’ education.  There is strong evidence to show that girls achieve better academic results in a girls’ school environment.  The table below compares the performance of Marsden students with girls in girls’ schools and girls in co-ed schools across the country last year.  Decile 10 schools are those with the highest socio-economic demographic ranking, including state, integrated and independent schools.
Our girls also gain a disproportionate number of tertiary scholarships for a school of our size, testament not just to their academic results but also to the breath of their co-curricular participation, their leadership and their community service.  They truly are inspiring girls.