27 Jun 2019

Principal’s End of Year Message – 2019

Dear Parents, Students and Staff,

What a superb finale to the year! In the last two weeks, we have enjoyed the Bauhinia Family Celebration, the Bamboo and Banyan Families Celebration, the Gala Music Concert and the Final Assembly of term – as well as a whole host of other smaller special events to celebrate the end of another highly successful year at South Island School. The number of special events that our students participate in, and indeed organise and run, is truly exceptional, and reflects our philosophy that education is about so much more than just what happens behind the door of a classroom.

At one of these events, I spoke to the school about the importance of listening carefully – if one truly wants to make a difference, one must first actively listen to establish what difference is needed. I hope you feel that I have listened carefully in my first year at South Island School. At the end of the school year, I believe I now have a good grasp of what is already excellent about the school, and also an understanding of a few areas where there is still scope for further improvement. This listening and consultation process has culminated in the publication of the South Island School Strategic Development Plan. This important document sets out our development vision for the next three years and I look forward to working closely with staff, students and parents as we seek to make real the ESF objective of progressing from being world-class to being genuinely world-leading!

To achieve this, we must all continue to listen very carefully and honestly to one another. As you know, we have now moved beyond the CIS/WASC framework, at this time when our IGCSE and IBO qualifications are highly respected for university entrance across the world – and during the next year, we will further develop our own quality enhancement processes in liaison with ESF. Put simply, we will be seeking to ensure that everyone – students, staff and parents – share the common goal of being the best we can be, in everything we do.

In seeking to define the vision for the future, I hope I have also respected the ethos of the school that I have been so fortunate to inherit. At the recent Commencement Ceremony, I spoke about how we all ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. Some true giants of education have taken South Island School to this moment in its history – not just former Principals, but also many other members of staff, as well as thousands of students who have collectively contributed to our exceptional atmosphere and ethos.

At this moment, I must pause to pay tribute to Annette and Chris Chapman, who retire from South Island School at the end of this week. Chris and Annette have between them served an incredible 69 years at the school. Above all, Annette and Chris have modelled the heart, spirit and dignity of South Island School to our students, staff and community, and we will carry their legacy forward. We will all miss them greatly, and we are sure that the next chapter of their lives will be extremely happy for them. Thank you, also, to the other teachers who leave us at this time – Vici Egan, Louise McCombe, Paul Barker, Fiona Henderson, Matt Lewis and Harpreet Kaur. Thank you also to Support Staff colleagues who leave us at the end of term, including Grace Ho, Po Cheng, Yuki Lee and Don Ming Yung, who have each served the school for more than 20 years each – with Don leading the way with an incredible 40 years service! 

This is also a time of sadness when we must say goodbye to a number of students and their families – goodbye of course to our graduating Year 13 students, who now step onto their further education and careers pathways, and goodbye also to a small number of students and families from other year-groups, who are leaving the school now for a range of different reasons. Wherever your journey takes you next, we wish you well and please stay in touch.

As I reflect, finally, on the end of my first year as the Principal of South Island School, there is one headline that confirms my desire to stay here for a very long time. That headline, simply, is our students. I have never before had the privilege of serving such dedicated, hard-working, driven – and yet humble students. I hope to enjoy this privilege for many years to come.

Please have a wonderful summer break with your families and I look forward to seeing you again in August.

With best wishes,

Tom Vignoles
Principal, South Island School