This time of year, much of my time is spent on enrolment-focused work as I meet prospective boys and their families in Christchurch and many locations across the country, alongside community events.
Recently, I was at the Wanaka A&P Show, sharing a function and tent site with Waihi School and St Margaret’s College. It was a very successful sojourn for all, with interest in College exceptionally high and competition for places strong.
While at the College stand in Wanaka, I was visited by the local police, seeking advice regarding antisocial and disruptive youth behaviour, particularly by Years 11 and 12, in the local area over the Christmas holiday season. I was very surprised by what they described, as it reminded me of the infamous ‘Schoolies Week’ on the Gold Coast each December in Australia. What worried me most was referred to in my previous article in IBW about the need for us all to know what our children are up to when they are out of sight. As the year progresses, we and other schools in Christchurch will be helping our boys and parents think about the issues raised when a mixture of alcohol, drugs and uncontrolled groups come together during what should be a festive and safe period for everyone.
Royal Commission of Inquiry
As many of you are aware, Christ’s College has again found itself in the media following statements made to the ongoing hearings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care since 1950. We are responding to any Old Boys who contact us and to media inquiries. We are confident that our policies and practice are appropriate and respectful to all involved. These can be viewed here.
Children at the fore
Nowadays, we are very fortunate that the voice of children is at the fore in how we think and act, and we have processes that enable concerns to be dealt with in a respectful and appropriate way by parents, children and staff – with the child’s welfare at the centre of our thinking.
One of the truths we deal with in schools is that we are always looking to help young people grow in a positive way, even though they may make poor behavioural choices and underestimate the impact on others – their families and perhaps College itself – both now and potentially in the future. At times, I am shocked by the actions of some of our boys, in spite of the best programmes and advice. However, I always remind myself that they are growing into adulthood and will make errors that can be addressed as ‘teachable’ moments. When such behaviour occurs, we always try to be restorative, solutions-focused and to ensure all involved have the opportunity to reflect and move forward.
As a school, we are not so much worried by the ‘reputational risk’ that such behaviour brings, because such risk is a core component of the reality of adolescence. Our true risk is if we fail to deal with any matters, in a way that does not allow for the natural justice of all concerned, and if we fail to follow due process.
I am certain that the authority of the College culture rests on the foundations of our Gospel-inspired virtues, appropriate pastoral care and transparent contemporary practice and protocols that see the health, safety and wellbeing of the boys as our highest priority.
As we approach the end of the Term, we do so again forever thankful that we have been able to come to school each day to learn and play when many people abroad are unable to do so.
I take this opportunity to wish all a blessed Easter and for the families and boys within the school, the best for Term break as I thank them for such a great start to the year.