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Benefits in faith-based education

A study that found students at Catholic and other state-integrated schools have a better chance of achieving University Entrance (UE) is not surprising, says Sacred Heart College Principal Maria Neville-Foster. The research by business think tank the NZ Initiative, produced in association with the New Zealand Herald, found that one’s chances of finishing school with UE can be increased by 8.3 percentage points by sending them to an integrated school, or by 6.9 points at a private school, compared with attending your local state school, after adjusting each school's results for each student's personal and family background.Students attending state schools between 2008 and 2017 had an average chance of only 30.5 per cent of leaving school with UE, the NZ Herald reported. That increased to 37.4 per cent in a private school and 38.8 per cent in an integrated school. The data looked at 398,961 students across all of the country's 480 secondary schools over the 10-years. Mrs Neville-Foster says the findings are indicative of the way Catholic schools push for personal excellence and focus on the student and their individual needs. Sacred Heart College, a state-integrated Catholic girls’ school, is guided by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, which states that “achieving the best possible academic standards is a goal for all Catholic schools”. “In its academic standards, the Catholic school is required to be ‘at least as outstanding’ as other schools in its area. Parents should not have to choose between the best academic standards and a Catholic education; the Catholic school should embody both.”“Expecting and facilitating the achievement of the best possible academic standards for all children, whatever their ability, is part of enabling each student to use his or her God-given talents in promoting the good of society and the spread of the kingdom of God,” it states. Mrs Neville-Foster says their “true belief is that all students are given the opportunity to achieve their “God-given potential”. And that is only possible when they look at the Hauora - the whole person. They support each student to realise their best academically, spiritually, emotionally and physically.“It is about developing their character to be strong, independent, inspiring women of the future. We do that by using our gospel values to help guide them around their decisions about how they achieve and perform personally and inter-relationally.” “To be able to achieve at a high level, we need to be able to look after ourselves and our well-being. And we have to do that in order to achieve our goals.”  As a school, they focus on “fitting the system around the student, not the student into the system”. Since coming to SHC, she has seen an increase in people choosing Catholic-based education due to the growing realisation that it is a “better option”. “I think people are beginning to realise that in this modern world those key skills of having a strong faith-based education is important for young people to develop the ability to be confident, contributing members of society.”  

Sacred Heart College teacher earns Master’s

A photography and design teacher at Sacred Heart College has successfully completed her Master of Professional Creative Practice after a year-long PPTA study grant last year.  Mrs Ashton Jamieson, who returned to school fulltime this year, completed the qualification in July through EIT’s IDEASchool.Her project went down a path she “wasn’t anticipating” as the “very thing” she thought she wanted a break from, was at the centre of what she ended up creating. “A goal for my year of study was to let go of the time pressures and structures that shape each of my days as a teacher.  I initiated a project in 2019 that developed into this year using a self-designed system and set of rules to navigate where I was going.” Mrs Jamieson came up with a rule-based regime where she assigned a set of rules to ensure she could get tasks done each day. Using her usual mode of ‘femmage’ she constructed her own collage ‘army’ using a richly detailed process of making. “One of my rules was that the rules could change as long as I documented that process as it developed.” For each task, she would cut out a figure and use magazines to collage “armour” onto them. As the project evolved, Ashton started collecting her off-cuts and storing them in a jar, including the silhouettes of the figurines which she mended back together. She then documented the timings for each piece and created a spreadsheet of that data and thoughts associated with it. “It was about halfway through the year when it struck me that I was creating a system similar to that from which I had intended to have a break.” For her exhibition at the end of last year, she created a “crypt” - a secret or sacred space for displaying her collection.In her final presentation titled ‘Lexicographie’ – a play on her middle name and artist name Ashton Lexie, she explored her materials as a visual language. “It was all about language and looking at what happens when as the artist you let the materials do what they want to do. I investigated what naturally emerged from these interactions and attempted to decipher each happening” she said. Navigating fulltime work, the demands of study and Covid-19 proved to have its fair share of challenges, but she is relieved to have made it through and thoroughly enjoyed the process. She has learnt the importance of “re-energising” as a creative and feeding that back to her students. “For me, it was about reaching a point in my teaching practice where I thought I needed a bit of upskilling, time to have a little break and get my brain back in that creative space again.” “It was about maintaining relevance in our ever-changing digital world, engaging in new research and learning a few new things and bring it back to my classroom.”  As an old girl of the college, Mrs Jamieson spent her formative years from 2002-2006 finding her passion and developing her skills. “I quite often say to my students that growing up I was always the artsy kid in the class. And I think there is something in owning that, owning your talent.” It wasn’t until she left school when she decided to merge her talents with teaching and “landed back” where she started. Now, 10-years later she couldn’t think of being anywhere else. “I love it here. A lot of people ask me if it is time to move on, and I haven’t found anything yet that has pulled me away.”She hopes to apply for some residencies around the country to take her personal practice further. In the future, she may look at completing her doctorate. “I think a bit of space between studying is really important too, to grow as a person and let the ideas evolve.” Principal Maria Neville-Foster said Mrs Jamieson has made the school “very proud”. “You are a true inspiration and carry the mission of our school; ‘each young woman learning for life in a Catholic faith environment becoming a confident and contributing member of society’. “You are an excellent example of what all these girls can become, and we are very lucky to have someone with your talent, passion and commitment as part of our community. It is not easy to work full time, study and continue to produce top quality art for exhibition.” Mrs Neville-Foster said it is a testament to the high-calibre, and hard-working nature of the teachers at Sacred Heart College. 

Sacred Heart student gains A in Uni programme

A year 13 Sacred Heart College student has got a head start on her tertiary studies by completing a university music paper, for which she received an A grade.Eighteen-year-old Grace Mawson did the distance writing paper part of her music degree.  The paper is part of the University of Waikato’s Unistart programme for year 12 and 13 students.“I am one of the oldest in my year group and I wanted to get right into my degree so I could skip year 13 and then go to Waikato and do my degree.”“But we decided against it and my compromise was doing a paper through their Uni Start programme. Talking with Mum and Mrs Neville-Foster last year, we decided that I would use this year as a preparation year for university.”The paper she completed last term was a foundation paper on how to write at University. The first assessment was three essays as part of an annotated writing portfolio and they were each different text types; explanation, classification, and argumentation. “For explanation, I did how to identify colourless organic solutions because I am good at answering those in chemistry. For my classification, I did chemistry again which was classifications of alcohols; primary, secondary and tertiary. Argumentation was on why euthanasia is unacceptable and how it impacts people around the patient, which is what we were doing in religion.”“The next assessment was a literature critique and then the final assignment we had to do was an essay on how fake news affects people’s beliefs.”Grace says the programme's lectures were easy to follow and she could do them in her own time.“It was reassuring to know that I am up to that level and it shows that I am ready for university.”“I’m not doing another uni course this year but I am doing a few extra NCEA standards just to bring my grades up so I can try and get an excellence endorsement,” says Grace.Grace is planning to do a Bachelor of Music at the University of Waikato next year and believe the Uni Start programme has helped her prepare for her tertiary education.“I will also do electives in possibly chemistry and calculus because I am going to be a secondary teacher in music. But the chemistry and calculus electives will allow me to relieve those classes at High School level.

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