Update 17 April 2020

Term 2 2020, Week 1, 17 April 2020                                                                                              

Kia ora Parents, Caregivers and Whanau                                          

Firstly, well done on getting through the first three weeks of lockdown in New Zealand’s history.  Thank you also for your support in helping your child/ren transition into their remote/online learning over the last few days as Term 2 has commenced.  We would appreciate hearing feedback from you as to how this has gone, so please feel free to email this through to me at

  1. Covid-19 / Alert Level 3
    Yesterday we were all made aware of what Alert Level 3 may look like if and when we move to that stage, but it would be fair to say there is still some uncertainty around what this means for schools, especially for children from Years 1 – 10.My understanding at present is that the Ministry of Education are meeting with key Education Sector staff today and possibly over the weekend to provide greater clarity for schools and parents as to what Alert level 3 means for teachers, students and families.Following the Prime Minister’s update about lockdown at 1.00 pm on Monday, 20 April 2020, the Middleton Grange Senior Leadership Team will be meeting online to discuss and plan for how our school will operate at Alert Level 3 and the implications of this for staff, students and parents.  This will likely mean that we will contact ALL families via email in Year 1 – 10 next week to ascertain whether or not you intend to send your children to school during the Alert Level 3 stage, as this will help us determine our staffing needs and priorities to ensure we are able to provide appropriate teaching and learning both at school and remotely/online.Please continue to check your emails regularly and over the coming days/weeks and also check for updates via our school website and Facebook page
  2. Below is some information including some of the highlights from the last few weeks:

      • Enrolments 2021 for Years 1- 13 open 1 May 2020
      • Pupil Leader encouragement videos on the school Facebook page
      • International College (German) pupils safely returned home
      • The Fridge – Radio station continues to operate

    Prayers / Praise

      • Easter and Holidays and fabulous weather
      • Dedication of teachers and other staff to establish a good remote / online learning platform
      • International College (IC) staff who have wonderfully supported the IC pupils, families and host families  over this period
  3. Remote Learning / Updates from our Head of Schools’Primary School:Many of our Primary School students are engaged in ‘remote learning’ using a wide range of web-based resources, learning packs (which were issued before lockdown), textbooks and Zoom or Teams conferences with teachers. There are very few students who don’t have internet access or devices they can use at home.  Challenges include multiple students sharing devices, and parents who are essential workers. I have been very impressed with how quickly our teachers and our students have adapted to this new learning environment, and the willingness of parents to provide whatever support they can.Rod Thompson, Head of Primary SchoolMiddle School:

    The Middle School has had a successful start to Term 2.  All classes have been engaging with course material and meeting teachers. I’ve been impressed with the way students, parents and teachers have developed their knowledge of new technology and are learning new methods for communicating.  Reviewing messages from students shows that they are adapting well to the ‘new normal’.  It has also been lovely to receive feedback from parents, such as this:

    Parent comment:

    “We would like to extend our most sincere praise and thanks to all teachers! Our son’s first official day of e-learning has been seamless, all subject expectations are clear and consistent, and his teachers have all been extremely prompt to respond to any queries he has emailed them about.”

    Tony Kendrew, Acting Head of Middle School

    Senior College:

    The general impression I get from chatting with staff is that there has been a great response from students in chats and to assignments and a good level of output. It can be a little difficult to gauge how much is enough/too much to set for a lesson, but we will all settle into this as we progress.  I would say: excellent attendance in live classes; audio can be a little erratic with variable internet connectivity; short step-by-step video postings have been really helpful.

    Student feedback:

    “I was just a little worried [at first] but I can see that all the teachers are doing their best and that makes things a lot easier to understand. I seem to be doing better and finding it a lot simpler to understand as I do more work.”

    “Thank you – this looks great. It’s been a lot to set up. Praying for you and the other teachers as you navigate learning through new ways.“

    Parent feedback:

    “Great considerate email.  Thank you.  [Name] also has a workout program that he’s doing daily so he’s keeping fit and he has his mum on the driveway helping with Basketball too!  I’m grateful for the extra time with him over this insane time in history.  Hope you and your family are all doing well in this crazy time.”

    Staff member feedback:

    “Uptake has been good with senior classes. Year 12s and 13s are responding well and getting work done in a timely manner.”

    Ruth Velluppillai, Head of Senior College

    International College (IC):

    IC Staff have reported that the majority of international students have participated in the online learning with only a few concerns coming through. IC Staff have tried to deal with any technical concerns prior to this week, but it has still required quite a lot of communication outside of Teams, to get students to a point of understanding what they are required to do. Low level English students have really struggled and will continue to do so, without the face-to-face teaching. There are a few concerns with the students that are not engaging, and staff are dealing with these situations individually.

    IC Staff make contact with students and host families regularly and are monitoring all situations. Feedback from host families has been generally positive. I have set up a WeChat group for parents and comments have been very positive. One mum said prior to the commencement of online learning on Wednesday, “My son replies to his teacher’s messages every day. He is looking forward to a different type of class tomorrow”. This WeChat group includes the parents of the students still stuck in China.

    Staff generally, are coping well. It is good to have this first week over and to be able to get a routine into place for the week to come. It isn’t as straight forward as just going online and teaching, as there are quite a few scenarios that crop up, but staff are doing a sterling job in ironing out the issues.

    The IC have set up a student ‘Lockdown Challenge’ where each week students are asked to take part in a challenge and submit their entries/outcomes and at the end of lockdown there will be prizes for best entries. One of our Japanese students submitted her Easter baking entry. She baked an Easter bread with her host mum!

    Colleen Steyn, Director of International College

  4. 2019/20 School Donation ReceiptsIt is our aim to have the School Donation receipts for the tax year of 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020  emailed out by Friday, 24 April 2020.  As we are all presently working under a “different working environment” with being based at home, we may encounter some technical issues achieving this, so would appreciate your understanding.  If you have any queries regarding your Donations receipt after this date, please contact Libby Davis via e-mail at:
  5. Christian Schools Trust (CST) update:Information about shorter term Attendance Dues relief options will be emailed out to all parents by CST late next week.Please note that Attendance Dues levels for 2021 will remain frozen at the 2020 amount.
  6. A reminder about our priorities as a school:From Psalm 46 – No matter what we face, God holds the final victory, and we can trust Him in the midst of all that may be happening around us. This Psalm calls us to live free from fear, to seek after a quiet and secure confidence in our God, who alone is able to save:“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… God is within her, she will not fall, God will help her at break of day… The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress… Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:1-3, 5, 7, 10Prayer:Dear Father in Heaven,  We long for your presence and peace again.  We’re struggling with worry and fear.  We trust that your power is far greater than the difficulties we’re up against today. We believe that you are mighty and that you’re bigger than this storm. Thank you that you promise to be our refuge and strength in times of trouble. We ask you for your blessing and peace right now and depend on you as never before.

    In Jesus’ Name,





Mike Vannoort