Letters to the editor
I have recently been informed Marlborough Boys' College is abandoning "broad banding" for junior classes in 2013. I'm not sure whether this will include ranking by ability in their mathematic classes or the special needs classes.
As a parent who is sending her son to the college in 2013 I have serious concerns, especially for an all-boys school where competition and similar peer ability in subject classes promote motivation and competition to achieve.
I am also aware that mixed-ability classes in mixed-gender schools have some success. But even in that domain some science and maths classes in co-eductation schools have opted to have separate gender classes.
I think the change from broad banding to mixed-ability classes is an attempt to manage disruptive behaviour by an increasing number of unmotivated, ill-disciplined students who disrupt the lower bands.
This will not enhance learning for the well-behaved student who wants to maximise his acquisition of knowledge in these mixed-ability classes. It will spread the disruptive learners and impact negatively on the others.
There is much to be proud of at Marlborough Boys' College in sport, singing and other extra-curricular areas, but in the academic domain there is much to be desired. In a school with 1000 boys or thereabouts, NCEA results are average. There were no scholarships in 2012.
There is no doubt the intellectual ability in a school of this size exists - why do the able boys not achieve?
I am certain that mixed-ability junior classes will not promote the desired outcome of higher achievement in the primary purpose of schooling; measurable achievement which in boys' schools comes from classes where competitive learning with their peers produces the best results.
RACHEL VAN BEEK
Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty responds:
Marlborough Boys' College is not abandoning broad banding.
At year 9 there will be a slight modification to bandings as it has been done in the past. English, social studies and science classes will be in two bands rather than the three that have operated in the past. Maths will continue in three bands. Option subjects are of mixed ability as they have traditionally been.
NCEA results are not average at level 1 and 2.
The just-released ERO report on the school highlights this:
"For students in years 11 to 13 undertaking courses that make them eligible to be assessed for a national qualification, there has been marked improvement in achievement overall, including for Maori students. Significantly greater success is evident in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA), levels 1 and 2, where performance is above comparisons nationally and for schools of similar profile. Greatly increased percentages of merit and excellence subject grades are gained."
Any parent is welcome to make an appointment to discuss any concerns or questions they have about school matters.
In response to the letter about pound fees from Gina Price [Express, December 4], some animals are serial escape artists. In almost all cases they leave their property because they are not securely confined or they are left unattended for long periods by owners. Both circumstances reflect upon the animal owners.
There would be some difficulty, and much room for complaint, if Animal Control was to pick and choose which animal owners should be required to pay pound fees. Declaring puppies should be absolved from fees, for instance, would be a recipe for dispute.
Fees are set to cover the cost of the service that is provided to the region. The fees reflect the staff time and the costs of transport, food and care that is involved each time an animal is picked up.
An open pound is suggested as an option by your correspondent. Here in Marlborough, as in Christchurch, the public can view the unwanted animals with a view to giving one a new home. However, we require a new owner to meet the cost of registration and inoculation as indicators the owner is going to be responsible for the animal. Reducing that cost to a new owner would simply mean more of the cost would have to be met through the public purse.
Under the Dog Control Act, owners are given seven days to collect their dogs. If that doesn't happen, Animal Control must decide the dog's fate. Our staff go well beyond the requirements of their job to find homes for such animals, including contacting their networks of dog lovers.
The council covers the cost of putting down unwanted dogs humanely; in other words, the failure by animal owners comes at a cost to the wider public.
Animal Control contract administrator
Marlborough District Council
Well done, Clara
Wow, congratulations, Clara. What an amazing young woman - talented, humble, intelligent and beautiful.
I loved watching New Zealand's Got Talent. Like Rachel Hunter said, I'm proud to be a New Zealander. The show brought out talent the country needs to see, totally world class, professional and thoroughly entertaining.
We can't forget to mention our own little town, with talent like Clara and Jayden and Jessie and the cast of Oliver. Superb.
Not only am I proud to be a New Zealander, I am proud to be Marlburian. It's wonderful to be able to showcase our fantastic people in the arts instead of always on the sports field.
- The Marlborough Express