- Class sizes: as a small school, we keep our classes small so teachers are able to work with each student. We began our current year 9-10 classes with an average of 24, but later enrolments have lifted our average year 9-10 class size to 27.
- Looking after students: Garin does not have year level deans: instead the school uses vertical forms or whanau (20 students from all year levels) which meet every day. Providing the whanau teacher stays in the school, for the following five years they are the first person parents normally contact when they need to communicate with the school. We also have one pastoral whanau class which has larger number because of of student and parent demand.
However we do have Academic deans: looking after academic success for seniors, for juniors, and for our Maori students.
- Garin’s Gold Heartbeat Canteen: students stay at school for our lunchtimes, and we do have an excellent canteen which has won gold Heartbeat awards for the last three years – and sells a range of popular and healthy food. There is also a microwave and hot water for students with their own lunch.
- Prayer and Masses: we begin every day and every school event with a brief prayer, and we try to have a full school Mass each term. We don’t have a chapel or a regular chaplain, so it is hard to do more than that. Our emphasis is on “Christian Living”: making the values of the Gospels part of our everyday lives. We like St James’ definition of religion: Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. James 1:26
- Exams: Garin is an holistic school and we expect students to be involved in a wide range of areas. On top of that we teach 13 subjects in year 9-10 where most other schools focus on 6-7 to prepare students fro NCEA in year 11. However Garin students do really well in NCEA exams and always perform better than the national average for decile 8.
- One of the key ways we measure our success is in the award of “Colours” to NCEA students who gained all 80 credits required for NCEA with Merit and Excellence passes.
As you can see from these tables, the number of “Colours” earned by our students and teachers have increased from 17 to a very impressive 54 (and 45% of our students sitting NCEA gained endorsed certificates with more than 50 credits at Merit or Excellence).
- Bus routes: there are free buses from the towns and rural areas to the south of Richmond (Wakefield, Brightwater, Redwood Valley, Foxhill etc). There are a heavily subsidised buses from Mapua, Moutere, and Motueka. Students from Stoke and Richmond normally take the healthy option and walk or bike to school. The College also organises and subsidises a contract with the local bus service for an express bus from the north of Nelson directly through Nelson to the school, at a cost of about $100 per term.
- Reporting: we report to parents nine times during the year. All parents get formal reports in terms 2 and 4, and all have the opportunity to sit down for a check in with teachers in term 2 for NCEA students, and term 3 for juniors. As well, we have a social event at the beginning of the year, and send out mid-term reports on students who have fallen behind.
- Costs: we work hard to keep costs down because parents need to pay Attendance Dues of nearly $800 a year to the proprietor (the owner of the land and buildings). This covers the cost of servicing loans on Catholic schools. As well, students need to pay for uniform, stationery, sports fees and gear, trips etc. Our Parent Partnership donation to cover the little charges that arise during the year is $120 (and $160 for a family).
- A safe community school: every human organisation seems to have people who misuse power. At Garin we work hard to identify these events, and educate the people involved. If that does not work we ask them to go to another school. We regularly check with students through confidential questionnaires.
- Contact with the school: the school sends out a newsletter every Friday. We ask parents to report to us on how well we are doing once a year, and we have an “Effectiveness Check” that we send out at least once a term so families are able to give us feed forward so we can improve the way we do things. As well, parents are frequently in contact with Head Teacher John Boyce, whanau and classroom teachers.
- ERO reports: you can find the three-yearly Education Review Office reports at www.ero.govt.nz and use the keyword Garin.