Kea Crossing IMG1389 IMG9913 IMG7815 Wakefield School from Lookout 3 IMG4764 Picture from Waimea Weekly

 Tena koe,

Have you noticed the LIFE Education truck parked outside the school?  I’m talking about Harold the giraffe, of course.  I’m sure you know about Harold and possibly remember him from your own school days if you are beneath a certain age.  Earlier this morning I sat in on a LIFE Ed class with the new entrant children.  Ingrid, the LIFe Ed teacher, took us through an activity where we decided if certain actions or behaviours gave us feelings that were ‘warm and fuzzy’ or ‘cold and prickly’.  The conversation turned around things that we like to do and have done to us by others, and things we don’t like.  The children were really engaged, practising some excellent language and considering their feelings and behaviours in depth.  I was impressed.


LIFE Ed is one of these things that pops up and vanishes without much recognition, so I’m giving a big ups to Ingrid and the LIFE Ed trust.  I remember when LIFE Ed was set up in the late 1980s, as I was an eager young director with TVNZ and we made a short programme following Sir Howard Morrison as he rode the length of NZ on horseback to raise awareness and funds for the LIFe Ed trust.  The fact that it is still here after all these years shows its value.  LIFE Ed fits right in with our programmes around a heap of important stuff for your child: healthy eating, self-esteem, positive behaviour, friendships, respect.  I’m pleased that during the lessons Ingrid has a poster of our STAND values on display and regularly refers to them, so the children make connections around the positive messages we try to promote.


LIFE Ed continues with the support of a lot of local sponsors.  My thanks to them for keeping this excellent resource available to your child.  You can see more about LIFE Ed Nelson here:   They welcome interest and are always appreciative of donations, however small. 


Good reading habits?  Good idea!

Check out the poster in this week’s newsletter that puts a few numbers around the gains to be made from daily reading.   A little bit of daily reading is like compound interest: you don’t notice it but over time it adds up and makes a difference.  Make time for your child to read every evening - it’s the single most powerful thing you can do to support their learning at primary school age.  Well done!


Have a beaut week


Peter Verstappen 



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Here’s What We Mean by ‘Student-Led Learning’


Jordan, who is six years old, was recently appointed to our Student Council as a representative of Matai Kereru team.  Last week our Council meeting clashed with scooter training for Jordan.  He came to the office to tell me but I was out, so what did Jordan do?  He wrote me this letter:



To mistir vstn

Sore I cant go to the

Shooht cousool

Becose I

Got scooti

Chraning at



from Jordan.


I love this letter, for two reasons.  First, it is a beautiful expression of a child learning to write; look at how he has made sense of the words ‘student council’, you can hear Jordan picking out the sounds in his mind. 


Second, it is a beautiful expression of student-led learning.  You might ask, ‘what’s he learning?’ but consider this.  Here’s Jordan, 6, as a thinker: he knows he has an obligation to the Student Council, he sees he cannot fulfil it, he comes to tell me, that doesn’t work, he decides he needs to write to me so he creates this letter and brings it to the office.  This is even more impressive because Jordan doesn’t know much about the Student Council yet, he’s only attended one meeting, but he knows he has some sort of obligation to it.  Here’s Jordan as a communicator: if he can’t tell me in person, he’ll slave over this letter to get the message to me.  Here’s Jordan as a planner: he’s thinking ahead and balancing his commitments.  Okay, Jordan will have had some prompts from his teacher, but he’s taken up the challenge and look at what he’s achieved. 


I value the opportunities children have to be leaders at school through the Student Council, committees, monitors and other roles.  Their work in these roles contributes to the smooth running of the school, but as well as leading others they provide real occasions for children to lead themselves, to become masters of their own learning.  And that’s what a democratic curriculum looks like.


Have a good week,




Peter Verstappen