From the Principal - 28 September 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

Great to write to you at this time of celebration for our school.  The planning and preparation for our Jubilee provided a time to reflect on the very special place our school holds within the wider community of Tauranga Moana.  We are not just a Catholic School, we are one of the first schools established in our area.  However, the fact that we are indeed a Catholic School, commissioned by Bishop Liston and established by our Cluny Sisters richens this.  The place we hold in Tauranga Moana is significant for the growth of our Church and our city.  It is therefore fitting that we celebrated it as we have.

A very big thank you to all those who attended our Jubilee and a special thank you to all those who worked so hard and assisted in making it such a memorable weekend.

We had many past pupils return to the school from all parts of New Zealand and from overseas. All attendees appreciated the school’s hospitality, especially the students participation in the Kapa Haka welcome, the performances on Saturday and the Sursum Corda and Pasfika Group at Sunday’s Jubilee Mass. Our Year 6 students who offered to conduct tours of the school did an amazing job.

It was great to see so many of our families and pupils taking part in the peformances and old fashioned games at the Saturday picnic. 

One of the highlights at the Saturday night dinner was having two past pupils Kevin Farrelly and Jeremy Redmore entertain us with their singing. Jeremy, a former member of the band Midnight Youth.

Michael Cooney spoke about the origins of the school paying tribute to the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny and proposed a toast of thanks to the Sisters for establishing the school.

In her reply Sister Allison said how the Sisters were delighted that the charism of their foundress Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey is still being kept alive and how all members of the school community strive to live by her motto “To do a little good each day”.

The Jubilee Mass celebrated by Bishop Steve, Fathers Mark and Danny and Father John Joliffe was a wonderful and very fitting conclusion to our weekend.

In the words of Pope John Paul the second our Jubilee did express our gratitude for the past, our enthusiasm for the present and we pray that God will continue to abundantly bless St Mary’s School community in the future.

This week I have been visiting the Cluny Mother House in Paris.  A trip I have been looking forward to and anticipating for a long time.  When I first started at St Mary’s I was introduced to the history of our school and quickly made a connection with our origins and the success of today.  One of the key ingredients of this is our Cluny Charism.  

I had initially thought of Charism as a gift, and it is, but it is a gift that we need to develop, enhance and in turn pass on to those that will follow into our community.  We have an obligation to add to the amazing work of those who have made St Mary’s what it is today.  To contribute to the many qualities our school is so proud of and for whom our students benefit. 

It is my intention to therefore better understand the Cluny Charism on which our school was built and has prospered and hopefully return with an enhanced ability to continue the work our Cluny Sisters started so passionately 75 years ago.

Start of Term 4
In starting the new term the expectation is to see a major focus on personal uniform standards. A slight transition to summer footwear and the retirement of any visible under garments should take place by Monday 16 October. 

If your child is absent from school, please notify the school office by phone or text before 9.00am on the morning of the absence. The school absentee mobile number is:  021 2969437.  When a child returns to school after an absence please give a written explanation to his/her classroom teacher.

Late arrivals to school
We have noticed a growth in the number of students who are arriving late to school.  I realise that, on occasion, this cannot be avoided but unfortunately we have a number of students who arrive regularly after 9.00am.  The start of the school day is 8.50am.  It is important that students are here before this to ensure that they are ready for learning and do not disrupt a functioning class on their arrival.  

An alarming statistic at St Mary’s is that of all students who are late or absent for more than 15% of the school year, over 50% have achievement concerns.  Something that I believe is easily addressed.  Please make a big commitment next term to be at school on time.

Ben Fuller

From the Principal - 30 August 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

Greetings St Mary’s community, at an extremely busy and exciting time for our school.  A very warm welcome to our new students Declan Finlay, Claire Ma and Tomas Hooper. There is always a reason to be excited and this term we have not been without reason!  

As I write we are counting down to our school’s 75th Jubilee Reunion event.  Enclosed in this news letter is some specific information regarding the reunion weekend later this month.  Please take some time to look over this information as it is going to be a great event for our school and one that we all should be looking to take part in.  I would definitely encourage all to look at putting a table together for the dinner on Saturday night as a follow up to the family day of fun we have planned at School during the day.

Last week was an extremely proud moment for our school and particularly for myself as Principal.  We opened what is the first purpose build Innovative Learning Environment on our school site.  The Sister Gabrielle O’Neill Learning Environment.  The suggestion to name our new building after our special Cluny Sister was a great one and one that I am extremely pleased our Board approved.  

Being able to honour Sr Gabrielle as we did on Friday was one of the most rewarding moments of my time as Principal of this great school.  For those who were not able to be present below is a small excerpt from the dedication I made on behalf of our school community past and present.

Everyone who enters into our school community brings with them skills, commitment and a love for St Mary’s.  This is what leads people to contribute in the many ways that makes what happens at St Mary’s great.  You have heard me describe this in many ways, I talk about all of us combining to create the fabric of St Mary’s.  However, Sr Gabrielle as a Cluny Sister and as a Principal has not just been a part of the fabric or contributed to it, she helped weave it and though our school today may be very different to the one you led Sr it is still very much connected to your work and the work of your order.

In keeping with a focus on how lucky we are to be a Cluny School, earlier this term we host 18, yes 18! Cluny Sisters from around the Pacific region.  They all attended Mass on the Thursday and treated us with some of their singing.  An amazing treat for us all and a reminder of the amazing gift the Catholic Community of Tauranga has received from these awesome ladies.

New Gold Group Sponsor - First National

As a father and daughter team, Rod Sampson and Tammy Francis have blended their love of family with their passion for property - combining their strengths for a fresh approach to benefit all their clients.  

Rod, and his wife Lyn raised their family in the Bay of Plenty and as such, has a real passion for the region and a broad knowledge of what it has to offer.  

Tammy with her tenacity and determination has made real estate a natural transition for her, one that she is enjoying very much. With her son, Mason, at St Marys she is actively involved in the school and loves the sense of community that comes with being a part of that. 

They both understand that for vendors and buyers alike, property sales can be a stressful and emotional time. They do their utmost to make things as smooth and enjoyable as possible for all their clients by providing exceptional service, feedback and communication. To them, success is matching the right buyer to the right property, resulting in both a happy vendor and purchaser. 

We look forward to working with you and discussing the special offer we have for our St Marys families.

Nga Mihi Nui Kia Koutou

Ben Fuller


From the Principal - 5 July 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

A very warm welcome to our new students Faron Mobberley and Bella Ferguson.

At the time of writing we are looking towards the end of what has been another exciting, busy and of course memorable term for St Mary’s.  Our big community shared event this term was our Art’s week that culminated in a sharing of Art works completed by children and the celebration of performing groups and individuals.  The focus of our week was on the wider arts and so included, aspects of dance, drama, music in addition to the visual arts focus you witnessed.  My thanks to all who came along to support our school on Thursday evening and to Pip Berquist for her organisation. 

Collaboration (working together)

As you are aware we are currently exploring ways in which teachers can work effectively together in a collaborative learning environment to enhance learning outcomes for our students.  I am not often one to quote research to parents but current views of researchers such as John Hattie are that the number one factor in influencing student achievement is termed, Collective Teacher Efficacy.  This basically means teachers working together with the belief that through the efforts of many (teachers) we can make a greater difference for students.

The ideal physical conditions to create this are aligned to the design of our new learning environment but as you know many of our buildings are not at this time able to meet such ideals.  As a result, you have seen and will continue to see creative ways of collaborating as teachers in the spirit of the above theory.  Connected to this is approach is students working collaboratively together, again in an effort to achieve collective efficacy as students.  This may make you reflect on how you work best in your chosen profession or how interaction with colleagues makes for more effective outcomes in your field. 

Student Led Conferences 

Our term 3 student led conferences will be held on Wednesday 2 August.  This is a further opportunity for parents and caregivers to connect with examples of their child’s learning and achievement.  Information regarding the booking of conference times will accompany your child’s mid year report.  As in previous years school will close at 12.30pm on this day.  All parents will need to make alternative care arrangements for children from this time.  There will be no afterschool care on this day.

Before School Procedures and Punctuality

Thank you to all who have been making an effort with ensuring children are at school on time.  It definitely makes a difference when a child is set up an ready to learn at the start of the day.  Equally in our colder months it is not ideal to have children waiting in the cold for classrooms to open.  All classrooms will be open and supervised from 8.30am which means children who arrive before this will need to wait in an outside area.   Ideally any time from 8.15 - 8.45 is a good time to get to school.

Late students

If your child arrives to school after 8.50am then they are late.  All late students must report to the school office to be marked present on the attendance register.  

From the beginning of Term 3 your child will need to obtain a late pass from the office and take this to the classroom teacher.  This is a procedure we have adopted to keep your child safe at all times.


A reminder that you must ring the school office if your child is sick or going to be absent from school.  The best form of communication for absentees is by texting our absentee mobile number 021 2969437, alternatively you could ring the school office and leave a message.  This is a tremendous help to our office staff so your help with this would be much appreciated.

75th Jubilee

We look forward to a very exciting Term 3 when we celebrate the 75th birthday of St Mary’s Catholic School.  More information will come home at the beginning of next term to see how you can be involved in this very special occassion.

Happy holidays and keep safe.  

Ben Fuller

From the Principal - 11 August 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

A very warm welcome to our new students Flynn Gardiner, Lucy Hertnon, John Clarke, Brayden Nix, Ella Madams, Mitchell Parry, Jessica Cha, Clover Palairet, Hunter Signal, Olivia Lilly, Samantha Bint, Coen Bint, Kale Bint and Thomas Woo. 

First Holy Communion
On behalf of our school community I would like to congratulate all students who received their first Holy Communion over the last two weeks.  This completes your recent sacramental journey and significant step in your young lives as Catholic.  I must also thank and congratulate all who prepared our candidates from when the programme began last year through until now.  As a school we had many teachers involved in the preparation of students for the receipt of the three sacraments but key leadership came in the form of Mrs Donna Vincent, Mrs Elizabeth Driver and Mrs Teresa Rush.

Personalised Learning at St Mary’s
Like many educators I sat eagerly waiting to watch Seven Sharp’s story on Modern Learning Environments.  I won’t say I was disappointed in the story but it was a shame that the focus was on the physical environment as opposed to the pedagogy (way of learning) that is the feature of an effective innovative learning environment.

The key area of focus that I would encourage you as parents to continue to connect with is that change from a structured, teacher dominated, industrial model (factory) to a less formal student led or centred environment.  This approach brings aspects of learning that sit alongside the traditional content based approach.  A key goal for us at St Mary’s is ‘skilling’ the students to be independent and self managing learners.  For this to occur it is paramount that students understand their role and responsibilities as the learner and also the learning process.  This is of course not an ‘overnight’ process, it requires a process of learning to learn integrated into the classroom programme.

I am sure you will agree that everything is hard before it gets easy.  We therefore want our students to develop skills to cope with the ‘hard’.  They need to be able to persist, think flexibly, be creative, and take responsible risks.  The space does have a role in enabling students to test new ideas, make mistakes and use what they know.  Hence the flexible nature of our developing learning environments where students can adapt to a setting that gives them confidence.  This is why you will find many settings within the setting of an innovative learning environment … including desks!

Community Information Evening
We are delighted to host a Community Evening with Andrew Jones (Melbourne University).  Andrew will talk about what the very best learning organisations are focussing on; the skills and competencies learners will need for the future and how this fits with our focus on collaboration. 

When:  Monday 14 August 2017; 6:00pm

Where:  Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey Centre

Come along and enjoy some light refreshments, and hear the future direction of education. 
So we can gauge numbers for catering please indicate your attendance via this link to the online form

Student Led Conferences
It was great to see so many parents embrace the opportunity to share in their children’s learning journey through our Student Led Conferences last week.  As a form of student led reporting, our student led conferences are now an integral part of our reporting to parents process as they provide authentic examples of progress in learning through the sharing of and interaction with actual examples of learning.  As always, should you have anything you wish to discuss with your child’s teacher in relation to the conference, examples of learning shared or current achievement information please do not hesitate to make contact with them.

New Learning Environment
Our new learning environment is now ready for final council internal inspections and sign off, however, there are a few external areas needing to be completed before it can be effectively occupied by students.  

Prior to this we will be blessing the building (Kawanga Whare) in conjunction with local iwi at 6.15am on Tuesday morning (15 August) before holding the official opening on Friday 25 August at 9.30am.  You are all welcome to attend both events. 

The liturgy on Friday 25 August will be led by Bishop Steven Lowe who will be dedicating the building to a significant member of our school community.  As with an event of such a nature we welcome all current and former members of our school community.

75th Jubilee Reunion of our School 
You will be aware our school is celebrating its 75th Jubilee on the 22 - 24 September his year.
This is a very significant milestone in our school’s history and we are marking the occasion with various activities over the weekend.

Friday 22 September 2017

4.30pm:   Registrations
              Tours of the school

6.00pm:  ‘Mix and Mingle
              Kapa Haka 
              School Students Performance
6.30pm:  Bar Open and light nibbles will be served 

Saturday 23 September 2017 - St Mary's School

On Saturday there will be various activities in the school grounds (bouncy castle for the children) with the day finishing with a jubilee dinner at the ASB Arena BayPark.

11.00am:  Roll Call
                Decade photographs
                Tours of the school

1.00pm:  Picnic lunch (you can supply your own lunch or use the option available on the registration form)

Saturday (Evening) 23 September 2017 – Baypark ASB Arena Stadium Lounge

6.30pm:  Drinks
7.00pm:  Dinner

Our MC for the evening is ex pupil Sam Kelway. You may know him as the popular TVNZ news reporter. Sam was born in Tauranga and moved to Wellington before being lured by the bright lights of Auckland.

Sam’s a passionate story teller, with immaculate hair, who doesn’t mind getting his suit dirty for a good story.  A TVNZ-er since 2012, he’s game for anything and will stop at almost nothing in telling the stories that matter.  We look forward to hearing some of Sam’s stories.

Sunday 24 September 2017

The celebrations will conclude with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Steve Lowe at St Mary Immaculate at 10.30am on the Sunday.  Full details of all activities are available on the school’s website, facebook and a hard copy of the registration form is available from the school’s office.

We are encouraging ALL members of our past and present community (pupils, parents, teachers, anyone who has had a connection to St Mary's) to join us in the celebrations of this weekend.

We look forward to a wonderful and memorable celebration.

New Gold Group Sponsor - Harveys Rural Property

Richard Greaves offers a focused, results - based real estate service across theBay of Plenty and in particular Tauranga Central and Rural Bay of Plenty.

A proven property deal maker, Richard easily forms trusted working relationships with his clients and leverage off the market advantages that the respected

Harveys brand offers to streamline the sale of your property. With strong family values, a well-developed sense of community spirit and extensive networks,

Richard is making his mark in the Bay.

Through Harveys in Schools, we can offer a range of skill sets and resources to extend the reach you have in your community and to bolster fundraising initiatives.

• The Harveys Photo Booth – a great attraction at school galas, fun days, quiz night, school dances/ socials (subject to availability)

• A Harveys Master of Ceremonies

• Our charity Auctions bring fun and a touch of theatre to your school event; we know what works, how to source items for the auction and how to coordinate a memorable experience.

• Individual agents with specialist sports knowledge/ interest could sponsor school teams and assist with branded gear.

• We pledge to donate $1000 from each successful sale of a property referred to us via the schools parents, neighbours and supporters network.

A little about myself..... I moved to Tauranga at the beginning of 2017 with my wife Joanna and our three children who attend St Mary’s School, Hannah, Jack and Lucy.  We have enjoyed our first six months at St Mary’s and look forward to getting to know the St Mary’s School Community better.

Ben Fuller

From the Principal - 15 June 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

A very warm welcome to our new students Mollie Gleaves, Rohan Lijo, Adam Alasad, Liam Du Toit, Maddy Wheeler, Josh Binny, Ella Younger, Arielle Duytshoff and Kimberly Dobbie.  Winter is upon us and learning is ramping up at St Mary’s with all of our teams focused on some great learning inquiries.  It is a good time of year to check in on your children as learners with the aim of gaining an understanding of where they are presently at in their learning journey.  It is important that you make contact with your child’s teacher should you have any questions or queries related to their learning.  

Reports will be circulated later this term and as the first stakeholder in their learning students will have a significant role in evaluating their learning.  This is a further step toward enhanced student agency (students in control of their own learning pathway) at our school and though it will mean progress is communicated in a slightly different way it is still related to learning progress.  Again if you have any questions regarding progress please let your child’s teacher know.

PTA Quiz Night

On behalf of our school community my thanks to all who supported our annual Quiz Night again run by our tireless PTA and in particular Michelle Pine who headed the Quiz Committee. It was great to see the number of parents participating in the fun and digging deep to support our PTA and our school.  I am sure you will all join me in congratulating our PTA on running another magnificent event.

New Build Progress - Creating Conditions for Powerful Learning

As a community we are sharing in the excitement of seeing our new learning environment nearing completion, anticipated to occur within the next 4 weeks.  It has been great watching the experts bring our design to life within the heart of our school.  However, it is the potential for educational outcomes from within this design that I would invite parents to explore as our objective as a school is to create conditions for powerful learning.

To further explore this concept it may be helpful to compare our time at school (as students).  You may recall as I do an underlying narrative similar to this; a story that many of us bought into in order to achieve the best we could within our respective schools. It may have gone similar to this.

 “If you wanted to learn something, like quadratic equations or French, then you needed to be in the right spot at the right time (your desk), with this teacher (the expert), with these kids (your class) who you had to learn the same things as at the same time.  And … at the end, when the expert had shared their knowledge, then your success would be measured by their test”.

Are you able to make connections with this? Did it work for you?  Did it work for everyone?  Learning today asks the question “How can we create conditions for powerful learning?” Answers include concepts such as the following:

  • Make environments safe and secure
  • Grow personal connections
  • Make learning fun
  • Make learning real and relevant to life
  • It should be future focused
  • It should be positive and include opportunities for social interaction
  • Adapt learning so it is personalised and so that students can demonstrate their passions
  • There needs to opportunities for autonomy and self agency.
  • Don’t constrain it to a time

If these are indeed conditions for powerful learning and these are the conditions we need to create to support our learners, then it makes sense that the way we design learning and the environment  we design to support learning has to evolve. 

At St Mary’s sitting in desks and waiting to be told what to do is no longer the norm.  Where previously students were told to be quiet while they worked independently is now a collaborative space where learning related dialogue is encouraged.  Where there were worksheets to fill time for those who finished their work early, now there areare open ended learning opportunities where children can continue to build their understanding, and there are teachers continuing to feed rather than determine the journey. 

Before School Procedures and Punctuality

Thank you to all who have been making an effort with ensuring children are at school on time.  It definitely makes a difference when a child is set up and ready to learn at the start of the day.  Equally in our colder months it is not ideal to have children waiting in the cold for classrooms to open.  All classrooms will be open and supervised from 8.30am which means children who arrive before this will need to wait in an outside area.   Ideally any time from 8.15 - 8.45 is a good time to get to school.

Ben Fuller