Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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February-March Update

In Years 7-9 we have introduced MidYIS testing that will give us a measure of where our students are against international norms and allow us to track their

progress over the coming years. In Years 10 and 11 students are assessed against the criteria required for success at IGCSE level. In addition to externally validated testing we will have promotional examinations at the end of the current academic year. In these examinations all students will be expected to achieve minimum grades, including passes in English and Mathematics at C grade and above, if they are to ensure promotion from one year group to the next.

While we have no desire to retain any student the harsh reality is that if they have not achieved a certain standard they are going to find the work in the next year even harder and thus get further behind. This is of course a worst case scenario and we expect all our students to be fully prepared for the examinations. As a school we will provide all the support possible but each student needs to take a degree of responsibility for their own learning and be aware of their role in ensuring academic success.

On Wednesday 23rd March, the last day of this current term, we will be issuing a Mid-Year Report that is a little different from the traditional report based around academic subjects. This report looks at the ‘Learning Skills’ required by students across all subject areas. In addition we hope the results of the MidYIS tests will be available by the end of term.

Please note that all classes will end at 11:20 am for Primary Students and 12:00 noon for Senior Students on Wednesday 23rd March as the school closes for the Easter Break. However teachers will be available to meet with parents to discuss progress between 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm on that day. We hope as many parents as possible are able to meet with their child’s teachers on that afternoon. Boarders may leave that afternoon or the following morning. Lunch will only be served for borders on Wednesday 23rd March.

We hope you will join with us in welcoming two newcomers to our team: Mr Martin Phiri has joined us on a full time basis to teach biology and Mr Ben Koshland, a volunteer form the United States will be with us for the next few months mostly working with the P.E. Department.

Being just over half way through the current academic year we are starting the planning process for the 2016-2017 academic year. This has started with a drive to promote the school throughout Malawi and attract more students. The first event an ‘Open Day’ was held on Saturday 27th February giving prospective parents and their children the opportunity to visit the school. In addition presentations will be made in Blantyre on Wednesday 16th March at the Blantyre Sports Club between 6:30 pm and 9:00 pm and on the following day Thursday 17th March in Lilongwe at the Lilongwe Golf Club from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm. A second presentation will in Lilongwe will also take place at the Golf Club on Saturday 19th March at 9:30 am. If you know anyone who may be interested please send them along to these information sessions. Details of the entrance exams to be held in Blantyre and Lilongwe will be published in the press once confirmed.

I can however confirm that the Mzuzu based entrance tests will take place in school on Saturday March 12th 2016 starting at 9:00 am. At this time we will also be introducing the inaugural ‘Rose Chibambo’ Scholarships. These scholarships offering a 50% discount on school tuition fees will be awarded to outstanding students identified in the school entrance examinations. If you would like more details on these scholarships please contact my office.

We also hope that parents who already have children in school and want to catch up with events or just to drop by to say hello can join us on both evenings.

Part of our planning for next year involves the writing of a budget and in these financially troubled times good news is hard to come by. Nevertheless I hope that our decision to keep fees pegged at their current US$ value for the next year is good news. Unfortunately no one can say what the Malawi Kwacha Dollar rate will be next September and I can only assure you all that we are doing our best to keep costs to a minimum. However as many of our materials are purchased outside the country we are caught as they say, ‘between a rock and a hard place.’

Next term we are rolling out a new system by which fees can be paid and we hope it will help parents in their planning. This system will then be extended to cover the payment period of the next academic year. Details have already been sent to parents but should you require any further information please contact us directly.

Although Mrs Yates and I enjoy living in Mzuzu it has one very serious disadvantage, the lack of a good book shop. In order to counter this we have arranged for a number of book suppliers to be in school on Wednesday 2nd March. Should you wish to spend a few moment browsing or purchasing books next Wednesday you are most welcome to come to school. Electronic alternatives may have increased but there is nothing better than losing yourself in a good book. If you are the parent of a boy, particularly of primary age, we would encourage as many dads and older male relatives to been seen reading. A good deal of research from around the world indicates that boys are often not great readers one very strong reason being they don’t see older males reading. We would encourage all members of our community to read as much as possible, as one writer put it ‘ today a reader tomorrow a leader’.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this letter or any other school matter please do not hesitate to contact my office.

With all best wishes

Peter Yates