As previously mentioned in my Blog, Chris Binge and Gareth Stevens are coming to present at Peak School on the evening of the 8th of May starting at 6pm.  This presentation is mainly aimed at the parents of our Year 4-6 children but anyone is welcome.

The agenda will be;
1. Island School Building Redevelopment. What will happen in the next few years?
2. Curriculum Development at Island School. What are Island Time and Island Futures?
3. Questions

An invite letter from Chris Binge, Principal, Island School;
Dear Parents,

You are invited to an information evening on various aspects of the changes to Island School. The evening will be presented by Chris Binge, the Principal and Gareth Stevens, the Vice Principal. We will describe the developments that have taken place and those that are coming up in the future. These will be grouped around two headings: Buildings and Curriculum.

As you will know the current Island School buildings are on Borrett road in Mid Levels. These school buildings are approaching the end of their useful life and it is an ESF priority to build a new Island School. However this raises several questions such as where a new school should be, what it should look like and how large it will be. Some of the answers to these questions are out of our hands, as we await Government decisions, but we have already engaged architects who are involved in the first study. We will explain where we have got to so far, and what the prospects are for the future.

Like all the secondary schools in ESF, the Island School curriculum has changed significantly in recent years. The introduction of the IB Diploma, and the BTEC applied learning courses has given a coherent and successful final two years to the curriculum resulting in excellent results and university entrances. As you know the Primary schools have also changed their curriculum, adopting the IB PYP programme. This raises the question of what and how we should be teaching in between the IB PYP and The IB Diploma, and this has been an exciting debate at Island School, as it has in all ESF schools. This year we introduced the cross disciplinary course Island Time. This will be developed further next year, and the year after will see the introduction of Island Futures for years 9 to 11. Exactly how this will look is yet to be finalised, but we hope to give you a view on the aims of a new programme.

There will also be time for you at ask questions on both issues. We look forward to seeing you.

Kind Regards

Chris Binge


Island School


A huge thank you to those that filled in the recent ESF stakeholders survey.  It was confirmed yesterday that we had a 44% parental response rate which was one of the highest across the Foundation.  The LMT (senior management) have spent time this week looking at the responses from all the stakeholders and we have already started to use these responses to inform our priorities for next year.  My next task is to prepare a report for the school council which will summarise the responses from the different stakeholders.

Overall we are delighted with the responses but as always there are areas we can work on.  Again thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.


We are still waiting on one or two samples from companies that we have approached to quote but we hope to be able to make a decision on the PE shirts shortly.  The idea is that they will be available to be purchased at the end of this term.  We hope to have stock in by the end of this term otherwise it will be ready for us to hand out on the first day back after summer.

A reminder that the children have voted to have the shirts in the colour of their houses and the most popular design (or a variation of) was this one (with a collar);









Although the above sample has the name of the house on the back we have decided to go with “Peak School” on the back as we all know what house we belong to plus we don’t want to confuse visitors and other sports teams by making them think that we have a large number of children called Cameron, Kellet, Nicholson and Victoria.  Obviously we will place our school logo on the front as well.


“The teaching of reading—once primarily dedicated to helping beginners and nonreaders learn how to decode—is shifting to embrace the vital capacities to analyze and comprehend. This emphasis on higher-level skills responds to a need to prepare all students to compete in a world where knowledge is expanding and information is available in multiple formats everywhere and anytime. Twenty-first century learners must not only know how to scan and skim billions of bytes but they also must know how to negotiate complex, difficult text. And—a goal not to be left out, we hope—they need to learn to understand and appreciate demanding and rich literature”.  Educational Leadership, Reading: The Core Skill, 2012

“If all we do is teach students to deconstruct text, will we remove all desire to read books?” Doug Fisher, Turning the Page on Reading, 2012

I was reading an article from Educational Leadership, ASCD which is an American based organization highly regarded internationally for their research and thought I would share the above quotes with you.

Reading is more than decoding (the ability to read the words).  Reading is about finding information in the text, it is about being able to pick up messages that are not directly given in the text (inferential), it is about being able to reorganise (reconstructing information), it is about being able to evaluate the information (gather and infere), it is about being able to understand the meaning of unknown words (vocabulary) and being able to express an opinion about the text (reaction)

Too often we have parents requesting that their child go up a level because they can easily read the book that has gone home.  However the child maybe able to “decode” the text but may have little or no understanding of what the text is about as per the skills mentioned above.  The priority and emphasis should be reading mileage and NOT how quickly they can get to the next level.  We purposely send home books which can be “independently” read by the student (called “independent readers”).  At school the children will be exposed to books which we call “instructional” which basically means that the child can read it AND understand it with support.

One way parents can help is to try the reciprocal reading approach.  This approach works best for children who are reading non fiction text or chapter books so is usually used with children in the middle to upper years.

The reciprocal reading approach varies but an approach that I found most successful is made up of the following steps;

  1. Get your child to read a paragraph, a page or a short chapter (approximately 100-200 words)
  2. Ask your child if there were any words in the text that they did not understand the meaning of (if they say there are none, ask them the meaning of a word you think they may not know the meaning of).
  3. Ask your child a question about the text.  Not always a simple yes or no question or a question where the answer is obvious but something that is perhaps inferred e.g the text may talk about the child wearing a coat so you could ask your child what time of year do you think the story is taking place in.  It may not say explicitly so the child will have to justify their answer.
  4. Finally ask your child to summarise the paragraph or page that they have just read to ensure they fully understood it.  Did they include the main points?  Did it reflect accurately what actually happened?

If you do this regularly the children automatically start to go through the above process when they are reading by themselves which ensures they are constantly reading for meaning.

Another powerful but simple strategy is to read to your child/ren.  This is such a powerful tool to improve your child’s ability to read and comprehend  The research (Allington, Gabriel, 2012) clearly shows the positive impact of children regularly reading something they understand (“independent reader”) and hearing a fluent adult reader read aloud on a daily basis.  Take turns reading a page each, a paragraph each but be assured the more you read to your child the sooner they will become a well rounded reader (ability to decode, analyze and comprehend).


The new classroom furniture has arrived (student chairs and tables) and immediately the students have fed back to me how they are much more comfortable than the old chairs.  Teachers are also happy that the new chairs do not “squeak” like the old chairs did!

A sample of the quotes collected;

“They are much more comfortable, normally I would have a sore back by now but with these new chairs I don’t” (Year 6 student)

“We love them, they are great, very comfortable to sit on and you can’t lean back on them” – unlike the old chairs where you could lean back on them so that only the back legs were on the ground (Year 5 student)

“My back no longer hurts, is there magic in these chairs?” (Year 4 student)

“Very good, we really like them” (Year 3 student)

“The chair moves when I move” – the seat panel and the back panel are designed to pivot to always provide support (Year 2 student)

“The chair was a bit cold when I first sat on it but now I like it because it is comfortable” (Year 1 student)








On the morning of April 18, Patrice Shadbolt our PYP coordinator gave a presentation to A majority of our Year 6 parents.  The presentation outlined the features of the Exhibition the Year 6 children are currently working through and the roles of the different stake holders involved.

If you are a Year 6 parent and missed the presentation or would like to know more about the Year 6 PYP Exhibition you can download the PowerPoint by clicking HERE.


I was expecting only two or three students to answer my maths questions from last term so was pleasantly surprised to have eight children answer all three questions correctly.  Considering two of the problems were linear equations I was very impressed with how the children could explain to me how they got their answers.

Congratulations to (from left to right in photo)  Darren Choi (Year 3),  Ambrose Lee (Year 4), Douglas Man (Year 6), Leo Webb (Year 4), Justin Lee (Year 4) and Daniel Leung (Year 5).  Missing from the photo is Alecia Leung (Year 5) and Kaven Wijeyekoon (Year 5).

Leo Webb won the draw to challenge Mr Garnett in a mini Chess competition.  Leo has selected two of his friends to play in a mini chess tournament against me!  Yes, I am a little worried but have been practicing using some of the chess apps we have on our iPads!

I will look to set some more questions in the coming weeks.


Please note that the Unit of Inquiry (UOI) reports for UOI 3 and 4 will be  available for our parents to view on Gateway this Friday afternoon (27 April) .  Simply log in and access the information as per UOI 1 and 2.

A reminder that the end of year report which covers English, Maths, UOI 5, UOI 6 (summary only), Chinese, Music, PE, ICT (Year 1 and 2 only)  and PSHE (social) will be available to parents on June 26.  Please note that this end of year report will only be available on Gateway and will not be sent home in a paper copy as per previous years.  However it is very easy for you to download/save/print the report as a PDF document.

You can log into Gateway by clicking HERE.  To view the reports for UOI 4 and 5 on Friday you will need your login and password.


100* NOT OUT

As most of you know I am close to my grandmother and that she is also very old!  So old in fact that on the 2nd of May she receives a letter from the Queen for turning 100.  ESF and Peak School have kindly allowed me to fly back to New Zealand to be with her on the morning of her birthday and as a result I will be absent from school next Wednesday May 2.

It is an amazing effort and we are very proud of her.

Other 100 Year celebrations/milestones this year include:

Girl Guides – America

The sinking of the Titanic

Universal Studios

General Motors

Lifesavers – the sweet/candy

Oreo cookies

The first parachute jump

The Corvette

Peak School turns 1…….

So as you can see she is in pretty good company!