Week 9 Term 4 Panui

Wednesday 14th December 2022

Principal Message

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa. Greetings to you all.

"Ka mua, ka muri" is a whakatauki that many will know means "walking backwards into the future" - the idea we should look to the past to inform the future.

As we look back on 2022, our normal operations have been disrupted with high rates of sickness in our community. This has been a challenging time as we navigate uncertainty and guidance that continually evolves. Kids have missed lots of school with lockdowns and isolation requirements. However through this adversity we have risen and shown tremendous resilience, tolerance and determination to get us to the point where things are largely back to normal. We are thrilled to see most children have returned to regular attendance patterns and that parents are once again an integral part of school life.

Highlights of the year include sports events, dance festival, camps, the Grocery Grab and disco. It has been great to read reports this week and see the progress achieved this year from both a student and teacher perspective. I want to acknowledge the enormous success that Marion Barakat has had, working in collaboration with teachers, delivering the Reading Recovery and ELS programmes to support students to achieve accelerated progress in Reading. We have had a number of teachers successfully complete a micro credential qualification to strengthen the delivery of early literacy by using a structured approach to explicitly teach letter/sound relationships. We have also made significant progress developing explicit expectations for behaviour at Witherlea with systems and practices to reinforce and uphold these.

We have had some staffing changes during the year, farewelling Andrea Harnett, Richelle Henderson and Hazel Halton. It has been lovely to welcome Amber Russell, Jemma Herdman, Aoife O’Shaughnessy and Mel Hole onto the team who have become assets to our school.

All board members were re-elected for another term and continue to generously give their time to ensure this school reflects this community and serves it well.

I would like to acknowledge two members of the community who have gone above and beyond to raise funds for the school.

  • Martina Suleiman for running the Closet Room and raising $37,000 over the past 2 ½ years.

  • Maz Terpstra for raising $30,000 as a key driver of the Grocery Grab raffle and calendars sales this year.

Looking over the achievement data, the disruption from the last few years has had an impact on achievement in both literacy and mathematics and this is seen nationwide. Historically academic achievement has been a strength of Witherlea and it is the collective aspirations of the staff and board to sustain this trend. This segways nicely into the Kia Muri, which outlines where we are going in 2023.

In response to school wide data and feedback from staff, students and the community a number of changes are planned to enhance continuity to ensure all students experience success at Witherlea. Some of the visible changes you will see include:

  • A school organised into three teams rather than five to increase consistency and promote a coherent pathway for students as they progress through the school.

  • The launch of a STEM programme delivered by Matt Robertson. All children will have 16 lessons with Matt over the year while classroom teachers are released for their allocated non-contact time. This programme will enrich learning for all students and provide greater continuity.

  • A class structure that is developmentally appropriate and can be repeated year after year.

  • A consistent policy on age classification to maximise opportunities in primary school.

  • Our middle and senior class size will be 25% smaller compared to 2022, providing optimal staff to student ratios.

  • The board has invested more teacher aide support for learners at risk of not meeting expectations.

  • A refreshed strategic direction will focus on raising student achievement and enhancing school culture.

I want to finish by thanking the staff for the commitment and willingness they show everyday to go above and beyond to support the well being and success of their students. A special acknowledgement to the leadership team for the support they have provided to my induction to Witherlea. I look forward to welcoming Phill Johnson, Mel Beattie, Hayley Christie, Aimee Fish, Tracee Lee, Rachel Earle and Suze Palacio onto the team in 2023. I wish Ariana McIntyre all the best in her new role at Blenheim School and Jemma Herdman for her upcoming wedding. Ma te wa to Maree Herdman, Phoebe Quirk and Jordan Schollum who will be on leave next year.

And finally to the children and families whose time at Witherlea ends tonight. We farewell the Barnes, Beatson, Brazier, Capellino, Clarson, Clark, Clifford, Cotton, De Zwart, Dell, Delves, Hammond, Heaney, Horsley, Kahui, Lang, MacDonald, McElhinney, McRae, Morrison, North, Phipps, Pickering, Pope, Preece, Radovanovich, Roper, Tapata-Stephens and Webb families.Thank you for your valued contribution to our school. This place is a part of you and you it. Don’t be a stranger, you are always welcome here and we look forward to following your journey.

Wishing you all a happy and safe break and we’ll look forward to seeing you back in the new year!

Ngā mihi nui,

Symon Beattie


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Farewell to our year 6 leavers

Generosity to Foster Hope Marlborough

Thank you to everyone in our community that dropped off Christmas gifts to support Foster Hope Marlborough this year.
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Stationery Packs 2023

Stationery packs for 2023 from Paper Plus Blenheim will be available from Wednesday the 11th of January.

Witherlea Welcome Hour

All Witherlea School students and families are invited to come to school on the 30th of January from 2-3pm and visit their 2023 classes and teachers.

2023 Term Dates

Term 1 - Tuesday 31st January - Thursday 6th April

Term 2 - Monday 24th April - Friday 30th June

Term 3 - Monday 17th July - Friday 22nd September

Term 4 - Monday 9th October - Friday 15th December

Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Fair Shoutouts

Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Fair Shoutouts

Congratulations to these students who have displayed one or all of our school behaviour expectations and are a model to others;


Conor F - For always encouraging and supporting your class mates and celebrating in their successes.

Quinn L - For always doing the right thing. You are a great example of a kind, safe and fair student.

Tilly H - Always being happy for others to join in games and activities. She applies our school motto in the classroom and playground. Tino Pai Rawa


Meredith M - For being a kind, caring and considerate member of the Ponga team. We are so lucky to have you. You are a great friend and always look out for others. Ka pai

Stella H - Stella is a positive role model to others. She treats everyone she meets with respect and kindness. We are lucky having you in Room 6 Stella!


Isabella C - Isabella, everyday you turn up at Room 10 aiming to be better than the day before. You are a forward thinker and focussed on improvement. You are an incredible year 6 leader who has a huge future in front of you.

Harry D - Being a friendly and respectful member of Room 13. You continuously uphold with Witherlea school values.


Fran T - You are such a kind and caring person Fran. You always think of others first, showing patience and understanding.

Ishana M - Ishana, you are such a responsible student who always thinks ahead, showing initiative and enthusiasm in all aspects of school.

The awards are for recognition in displaying and modelling our school motto and values; Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Fair.

Early Words Recognition

Vincent C, Clara A, Mia M,

We are very proud of the effort towards learning that our youngest students put in as the Early Words is the start of mastery at Witherlea School.

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