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.
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. No matter the size of your gift, it will contribute to making a significant difference to a family in our community, supporting our girls to continue their education at Marsden with their cohort and friends. Our total currently stands at $20,467 (40% of our $50,000 target).
If you would like to donate please go to this page.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone back on Monday for a great term of learning.

Narelle Umbers

Week 12; Term 2 

Update on reports
Since late last year we have been undertaking a review of our reporting process at Marsden.  Our aim has been to produce reports that are more timely, more meaningful and more widely read by our parents.  Because of the extended process of writing, reviewing and publishing reports, there has often been a gap between the writing of the reports and their publication.  We wanted to close that gap, and also make reports available to parents and students earlier in the final week of Term 2.
For our Primary students there have been significant changes to our report style for 2020 in response to parent and teacher feedback.  Changes have been made for the following reasons:
  • To focus more directly on student learning and less on the content coverage
  • To provide more specific and relevant feedback
Reports will be in a PDF format attached to your daughter’s Seesaw page.  We have chosen Seesaw as it is an online platform that our whānau are familiar with and enjoy using.
For our Year 7 to 10 students we have taken the opportunity to report on a broader range of skills, that are significant across the curriculum and which we know to be in high demand in the world beyond school.  We are not just teaching subject content to our classes but helping our students to become more effective learners, so they can develop and apply these skills to different contexts, at different points in their life.  For example, the tenacity required to problem solve in Year 10 Mathematics might be useful later in life when trying to make sense of university psychology or finding solutions in the workplace. 
In addition to the usual subject skills, our Year 7 to 10 reports are specifically providing information on motivation to learn and engagement, personal organisation, contribution and collaboration and tenacity and resilience.  These qualities are presented in a tick box format with descriptors that elaborate on what they might look like in the school learning environment.
We expect to see a range of levels of achievement of these qualities that will not necessarily correlate with academic achievement.  For example, a student who ‘independently uses a wide range of appropriate writing conventions, organises ideas, and selects effective vocabulary’ in Year 9 English, may also ‘require direction and encouragement, to contribute to the classroom dynamic’.  The first is a high end descriptor for Year 9 English, while the latter describes someone who finds collaboration and contribution difficult.  Inversely, a student who struggles with academic achievement may show true resilience in the face of challenges; a high achieving student may be personally disorganised.  We want students to continue working on developing these skills and by reporting on them, we are signalling that they are important.
Our NCEA reports still follow the format of previous years but we are looking to align them more closely with the junior reports in the future.  We have, however, adapted our teacher comments to focus more directly on the qualities of a learner.  We have moved away from descriptions of course content as that is available through other sources.  The end product is a shorter, more readable and more focused report.  We hope you find them useful.
Year 7-13 Reports will be available on Wednesday afternoon 1 July via the Marsden Portal.
Year 1-6 Reports will be available on Wednesday afternoon 1 July via Seesaw.
If you have forgotten your login details for the portal or Seesaw please email mymarsdenportal@marsden.school.nz   
2020 Annual Giving Campaign 
Next Monday we will be launching our annual campaign for 2020.  The focus and format will be very different to last year’s ‘Day of Giving’, but we are confident that the campaign will be equally as successful.  We will again make use of the Charidy platform to collect donations, but the campaign will run over several months, and for those of you who remember last year’s day, you will notice that it is definitely more ‘low key’.  We are grateful to Charidy for providing their platform to us for free this year in recognition of the challenging economic times. 

You will receive an email on Monday to introduce the campaign and provide you with further details.
What a term! 
As we move into the last week of term it is a good time to reflect on what has been a truly extraordinary period of time.  As we started the term all safely in our homes it was all about the numbers at those 1pm press conferences every day, and as I look back now there are some numbers that tell a story of hard work and constant adaptation to change this term… and explain why students and staff all need a break!  This term has been 12 weeks long, and in that 12 week period we have spent time in Alert Levels 4, 3, 2 and 1.  Each alert level change required everyone to re-think, re-invent, adapt and adjust, all the while continuing to learn, teach and support each other.  I am so proud of how well Marsden has come through.  

Enjoy the holidays. 
Narelle Umbers - Principal

Week 11; Term 2

I am really looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our parent social event early next term.  It has been obvious over the last couple of weeks just how much the girls have enjoyed catching up, and it has been great to see those who were new to Marsden at the beginning of the year having the opportunity to continue to build their new social circles.  I hope that it will be the same for our parent community. Please expect a relaxed evening of catching up with established friends and meeting parents who are newer to the school.
Someone asked me this week what role parents have in the school, and if the school could function without them.  My response was that yes, it could, but it would be with much less soul, energy and vibrancy.  As our Board Chair, Cheryl Middelkoop, said last week, the strength of the Marsden comes from a culture where the school actively seeks parents to become involved, not only by investing in the best education for their daughters, but as stakeholders in improving the experience students have at Marsden. One of our strategic goals is ‘Community Engagement’. We want to provide opportunities for all community members to align, engage with and contribute to the School’s objectives… and enjoy each other’s company while doing so.
In order to help us understand what you as parents want and need from your involvement with the school, I would like to invite you all to join with me, members of the board, and members of the Marsden Parents’ Association at a session with an experienced facilitator, where we explore together the topic:  Reimagining parent engagement at Marsden. This will be next Thursday 25 June, in the iCentre at 7.00pm.  You will receive further information about this early next week.
Reminder: Appointments to the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Board of Management 
To support the next phase of delivering the school’s strategy, we are seeking expressions of interest from members of our community who would be interested in joining the Board of Management. In offering to serve the school in a governance capacity, you would be involved in governing the operational management of the school, and actively contributing to the delivery of the strategic plan
If you are interested in joining the school’s Management Board, please send a copy of your CV, and a brief statement about what skills you believe you could contribute to the Board, to Principal Narelle Umbers by Friday 3 July. We welcome representation across the Preschool, Primary, Middle and Senior schools and are very supportive of Old Girls who may want to give back and support their school and are seeking for Board members with skills in the following areas: Financial Accounting/Audit, Marketing and communications, Strategy, Civil Engineering/ Campus management, Environmental sustainability, Legal, Human Resource/Talent management, Social media / technology. For further details, see last week’s newsletter
New COVID-19 cases In regard to the two new cases announced this week, we have been advised that there is no school or early learning service linked to these cases. This is a timely reminder, however, to continue to follow good hygiene practices and to act with caution for anyone who is showing new onset or worsening symptoms of one or more of the following:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Temporary loss of smell.
Anyone with these symptoms should ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP. They will advise on testing for COVID-19. 

Kind regards

Narelle Umbers - Principal

Week 10; Term 2 

Making a contribution to the school’s development – a message from the Board Chair 

Marsden has a proud history of developing young women to be successful in their lives, based on the foundation of “Ad Summa”  -  Aim for the Highest.  In part this is because the school has always benefited from having a strong Marsden family, where parents and Old Girls give freely of their time to ensure Marsden operates as a high-performance school.
In recent years this community volunteer support has significantly advanced the school so that our students flourish and do their best.  The support from the wider Marsden family has occurred in areas such as our building programmes, cultural diversification through Manu Rere Ao (the bird that flies the world), our sports and music programmes, as well as a wide array of co-curricular activities and many generous philanthropic contributions.
The school’s three-year strategy (2019-2021) includes a range of exciting developments that are enhancing the experience of students at Marsden.  In 2019 aspects of the strategy that were implemented included Marsden becoming the first New Zealand Visible Wellbeing school, and a number of future-focused learning initiatives.  In the next 24 months our focus will include initiatives to ensure that we become a more environmentally sustainable school, the development of strong philanthropic programmes to support sports and cultural activities, and a number of other exciting initiatives that will keep Marsden at the forefront of Independent School education.  Of course, the academic performance of the school (assessed as the highest performing NCEA school in the Wellington region 2019, as published on the NZQA website) remains central to all our strategies. 
Appointments to the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Board of Management  

To support the next phase of delivering the school’s strategy, we are seeking expressions of interest from members of our community who would be interested in joining the Board of Management.  In offering to serve the school in a governance capacity, you would be involved in governing the operational management of the school, and actively contributing to the delivery of the strategic plan
The Management Board is a skills-based board.  Membership of the Board is for a term of 4 years, and reflects the skills needed to support the delivery of the strategic plan.  For example, the Board composition reflected the skills needed to build and open Te Manawa o te Kura, which were different from those required for the sale of Marsden Whitby last year.  The Management Board also includes a representative from the Old Girls’ Association committee and the Marsden Parents’ Association.  All Board members are also appointed to one of the following three Board committees: Finance, Risk and Campus, Community Engagement, or Human Resources.
Current Board members are:    
Cheryl Middelkoop Head of Operational Risk & Compliance GSO and Corporate Functions - ANZ
Peter Hausmann Ex Company Director, shareholder and CEO
Michelle Taylor Executive leadership and development coach
Grant Hassell Managing Director and Head of Fixed Income – AMP Capital
Juliet Dobson Senior Employment Lawyer – Department of Corrections
Dr Arnold Young Consultant specialising in strategy development and delivery
Rob Everett Chief Executive NZ Financial Markets Authority
Brett Johanson Partner - PwC
Jo Prescott President of the Marsden Old Girls’ Association
If you are interested in joining the school’s Management Board, please send a copy of your CV, and a brief statement about what skills you believe you could contribute to the Board, to Principal Narelle Umbers by Friday 3 July.  We welcome representation across the Preschool, Primary, Middle and Senior schools and are very supportive of Old Girls who may want to give back and support their school.  We are currently seeking Board members with skills in the following areas: ·         
Financial Accounting/Audit ·         
Marketing and communications ·         
Strategy ·         
Civil Engineering/Campus management ·         
Environmental sustainability ·         
Legal ·         
Human Resource/Talent management ·         
Social media / technology
Community Engagement – Are you wanting to contribute but not on the Board? 
Perhaps being on the school Board is not for you, but you would like to become involved.  A key goal in the School’s strategic plan is achieving a wider and greater level of engagement with the Marsden Community.  Further communication will follow soon to explain how Old Girls and parents can become more involved in the school, including appointments to specialist advisory committees and involvement with school projects and events.
Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Cheryl Middelkoop
Chair, Marsden Board of Management

Week 9; Term 2

In our assemblies this year we have been introducing some of the science behind the six pathways to wellbeing that make up the SEARCH framework underpinning our school-wide Visible Wellbeing approach.  
It just happened that, as we have been working through the pathways in reverse order, we were looking at ‘C’ for ‘Coping’, during lockdown.  This turned out to be fortuitous, as coping skills generally only get called on when something has gone wrong, or in times of loss, challenge, adversity or sadness.  Coping can be thought of as being able to bounce back, or indeed forward, when we get thrown off balance.
We looked at the role that both our words and our thoughts can play in improving our ability to cope, by exploring two explicit coping strategies that we can choose to use when faced with adversity. The first of these is ‘reframing’.  Science shows that using catastrophizing language, even during a catastrophic time, can negatively impact our mental health and even our ability to concentrate.  Focusing on even a single negative word can ramp up activity in the amygdala — the “fear centre” of our brain — releasing neurotransmitters that interrupt our cognitive functioning, especially with regard to logic and reason. 
On the flipside, focusing on reframing and using positive words can be a simple and powerful way to improve our mood and even boost our energy.  For example, instead of saying, “I am stuck at home,” we could reframe by saying, “I am safe at home.”  Reframing what we say doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t hard.  But whenever possible, it’s important to be mindful of the language we’re using — for our own mental wellbeing and for those around us. 
The second technique we looked at was ‘turning ANTS into PETS’.  ANTS are Automatic Negative ThoughtS, and can arise as a result of our tendency to overgeneralise, filter out the positive, take responsibility for something that is not our own fault, or make assumptions about other people’s thoughts.  We all have ANTS, we have many of them, and our ANTS are often saying things about us that we would never consider saying about anyone else.  It is important to realise that ANTS are not facts, they are just thoughts, and with practice we can recognise the thinking traps that cause them and learn to turn them into PETS, Positive Enhancing ThoughtS.
Our journey through the SEARCH framework has now brought us to ‘R’ for ‘Relationships’, and has begun with looking at the power of social inclusion on improving our wellbeing.  Again, this has been a really timely message as we have moved back into school and are celebrating a newfound understanding about how important it is to be able to gather together, in person, rather than just virtually.

Narelle Umbers - Principal