Rebranding – or what the Hekia was going on at our Correspondence School back in 2010?

Gotta confess to being bloody perplexed by a media statement from Hekia’s office yesterday.

She was announcing the appointment of the former Chief Executive and Secretary for Education, Karen Sewell, as the new chairperson of the Board of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura).

And what the fuck is Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, your hard-working member was tempted to inquire?

The media statement went on to provide the reply.

It’s the Correspondence School, silly.

Correspondence School combined two simple words that, when put side by side, communicated a great deal to just about everybody in the country.

But having something with an obvious name must have offended against modern-day concepts of good governance, good educational administration, or both.

So some smart-arse was put to work to come up with a name that would require most people to echo Alf’s question: what the fuck is that?

Exactly when this happened is hard to say.

No doubt it was officially announced one day with much the same sort of media release as the one despatched from Hekia’s office yesterday.

But Alf can’t find it.

The Correspondence School’s website includes news releases from the institution over the past several years.

On 20 January 2010 a statement (here) was headed

The Correspondence School student prize winners for 2009

The item below said –

The Correspondence School’s student prize winners for 2009 were announced recently in Wellington. Eighty-two students from New Zealand and overseas were awarded prizes, with 15 students and their families gathering at the end of last term to receive their awards at a prize-giving ceremony held at Pipitea Marae.

And so on.

Something magical happened between that date and 20 March 2010, the date of the very next news release from the school.

This time we were told

Te Kura student creates digital music

Full-time Year 10 student, Jae Herekiuha, is using open-source software and a Te Kura music course to take his skills to the next level. Jae is enrolled in Te Kura as a Te Ara Hou student who completes an integrated programme of learning. He’s a talented student who …

A Te Ara Hou student???

Not only a change of name had taken place, but a change of culture, too, and all done without any fanfare – or rather, not enough fanfare to be deemed worthy of a media release from the school.

Probably there was a bloody good reason from keeping a low profile.

They were not wanting people like Alf to be asking embarrassing questions, such as “what the fuck do you think you are doing????”

On 20 September that year the Education Gazette told us (here) what had been going on in an item headed Big school makes big changes

The Correspondence School has a new name, a new look and new approaches to learning to increase engagement and lift achievement.

Renamed as Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, or Te Kura, New Zealand’s largest state school has made significant changes over the past few years.

Chief Executive Mike Hollings says the school’s new name refers to connecting students with learning, “although there is a wealth of meaning behind the name reflecting the role we play in the education sector, our students and our vision for their achievement”.

There is wealth in pounamu, sure enough, which is why Ngai Tahu have made bloody sure only they can dig it up and cash in.

But as for the wealth of meaning behind the Correspondence School’s new name …

Well, sorry. Alf doesn’t get it.

But fair to say, he recognises that Te Kura in 2010 had almost 15,000 students on its roll at any one time.

About 7000 are dual-enrolled students in face-to-face schools (including health schools and alternative education providers) who are studying one or two courses with Te Kura.

Last year, of the 4000 full-time students in Years 1 to 13, 67 per cent were enrolled through the alienation, exclusion/expulsion or psychological/psycho-social, CYF and teen parent enrolment gateways. Almost half were Māori.

Alf appreciates, too, that school hasn’t been a bundle of laughs for many of these kids.

“Many have struggled in face-to-face schools, for a variety of reasons,” says Mike. “These kids have become disengaged. Chances are, by the time they enrol with us, they’ve been out of school for weeks or even months.

“We have a strong focus on building relationships with students, their whānau and others in their community, and on making learning engaging and relevant for our students.”

But why it makes sense to call teachers something other than teachers is beyond Alf’s ken.

More teachers (called learning advisors) are being recruited to new regional offices in Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland. This gives Te Kura greater opportunities for contact with students and other organisations which can positively influence their lives – including other education providers, community groups, government agencies and iwi.

A more recent post (here) announces –

Te Kura waiata now online

This – we may suppose – is a reference to the school song.

The announcement advises –

You can listen to our school waiata, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, and read an explanation of the lyrics online – go to our page Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu and scroll to the bottom.

So the kids are being taught songs that are beyond their comprehension and must be explained to them.

Alf had been a strong supporter of the Correspondence School.

No longer.

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