St Andrew’s College annual Prizegiving performance of Stairway to Heaven goes viral

At the St Andrew’s College annual Prizegiving this year, held on Sunday 26 November at Christchurch’s Wolfbrook Arena, the spotlight shone on various talented individuals and groups as the College celebrated the many successes of its students in 2023. However, the highlight of the evening came during the grand finale performance, a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven that left the packed auditorium of around 3,500 students, parents, and staff astounded by the musical talents of St Andrew’s College students.

The video of this performance has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, in New Zealand and internationally, with many thousands of comments received online from well-wishers, fans of rock music, and the St Andrew’s College community from around the world. The response has been overwhelming, with views having so far exceeded 300,000, with 3,500 shares on the College’s Facebook page.

The ambitious performance, following an arrangement by the band Heart, featured around 100 singers and musicians, seamlessly blending the sounds of the College rock band and orchestra, enhanced by an impressive light show. The various musical groups involved only came together three days prior to Prizegiving to put the whole performance together.

Head of the Music Department, Duncan Ferguson, was the brains behind the performance, supported by Music Teacher, Mark Hodgkinson, lead singer Grace Burnett (Year 13), lead guitarist Mia Fraser (Year 13), and acoustic guitarist James McIver (Year 12) in bringing this exceptional performance to life.

The College’s music tutors and all students involved in this memorable showcase can be incredibly proud of the hard work they put into this Prizegiving performance, which is now showcasing the extraordinary talents of St Andrew’s College students beyond the school gates, to a world-wide audience.

Video on Facebook:

Celebrating Success: ACG Strathallan Excels in Cambridge Learner Awards

ACG Strathallan fosters excellence in education by producing students who excel on the global stage – and the school’s recent success in the June Cambridge Learner Awards is a stellar example.

Four ACG Strathallan students have excelled in the prestigious Cambridge Learner Awards June examination series. Amanjot Kaur gained Top in World for AS Level Mathematics, and High Achievement awards went to David Grey (AS Level English Language), Lauren Aylward (AS Level Business Studies) and Chloe Li (IGCSE Level Chinese Language). 

Celebrating academic excellence

ACG Strathallan Executive Principal Danny O’Connor was delighted with the results and says the school’s commitment to academic excellence is a key driver in student success.

“There is such a strong culture of learning at Strathallan,” says Danny.  “It’s cool to work hard in class and do well. Students respond positively to a learning environment based on high expectations and support. Our parents are also committed to supporting their sons and daughters to achieve academic excellence. For some students that results in top in the world results, for others it is evident in the remarkable progress in their learning that they might not have achieved elsewhere.”

Success breeds success

Creating an environment that fosters academic success is a top Strathallan priority and positive role models motivate students to reach for the stars.

“We’ve had a number of impressive academic achievements in recent years, and I think this inspires students to want to achieve similar results. They see one another working hard and it becomes the new norm to work hard in class, complete your homework and be proud of doing well academically.”

Creating the environment to thrive

But as Danny explains, that’s not all that sets ACG Strathallan apart when it comes to preparing students for academic success.

“We provide a structured environment with dedicated teachers that have an in-depth knowledge of their specific subject disciplines. Our teachers and support staff work incredibly hard to inspire and support students. Regular tests and feedback on learning provides students with valuable feedback to address any misconceptions in learning.

“By creating a safe and supportive environment, students are inspired to learn and not afraid of making mistakes. Every child has the ability to learn and excel at school and it takes the care of a dedicated teacher to bring that out in students.”

Student support

For Year 12 student Amanjot Kaur, ACG Strathallan’s supportive environment has been pivotal to her accomplishments.

“Strathallan has always been incredibly supportive throughout my academic journey. The teachers regularly conduct tutorials, allowing me to clarify any doubts and gain a deeper insight into mathematical concepts. Their willingness to provide additional guidance outside of regular class hours significantly impacted my learning journey,” says Amanjot.

“My math teachers Mr Fourie and Mr Balchin also play a vital role. They are amazing teachers who not only possess a deep understanding of the subject but also have a passion for teaching. They go the extra mile to explain complex concepts, answer questions, and provide additional resources to aid in our understanding.”

A remarkable achievement

Achieving Top in World was a dream come true for Amanjot, who describes receiving the award as “thrilling and validating”.

“When I first saw my mark, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, accomplishment, and disbelief that I’d achieved such a remarkable feat. My hard work, dedication, and countless hours of studying have paid off, and I’m filled with a profound sense of satisfaction and gratification. This recognition has boosted my confidence in my mathematical abilities and validated my dedication towards my academic pursuits.”

Eyes on the future

Not only that, but the award has confirmed to Amanjot that she’s on track for a bright future.

“I’m planning on studying computer science at university and my ultimate goal is to contribute meaningfully to the tech industry. Strathallan has set the groundwork for my degree by offering a multitude of opportunities. Engaging in numerous math competitions has sharpened my problem-solving skills (a crucial element of computing), and I’ve had the privilege of participating in coding competitions, where encouragement from my teachers has been a constant source of motivation. These experiences have broadened my skill set and deepened my passion for the practical applications of mathematical and coding principles.”

Global citizens

But there’s more to life at ACG Strathallan than just great marks, as Amanjot explains.

“Strathallan offers a diverse range of clubs, sports, and volunteering opportunities and our teachers actively guide us in our extracurricular pursuits, emphasising the value of personal growth and skill development outside the classroom,” she explains. “I’ve always been an active and engaged student, and my involvement in school committees has been a significant part of my academic journey. Whether it’s serving on the House Committee, participating in events like the Pink Breakfast, or taking on the 40-hour Famine challenge, I’ve consistently sought opportunities to make a positive impact within my school community.” 

And that’s music to the ears for an Executive Principal like Danny O’Connor, who adds: “Involvement in sport, activities and service outside of the classroom helps students to learn so much about themselves. We don’t just want our students to leave school with good results, we want them to leave as good people that will go on to have a positive impact in their communities.”

Future Problem Solving Nationals at St Cuthbert’s College

At St Cuthbert’s, numerous emerging changemakers have been recognised, as evidenced by the recent Future Problem Solving National Finals results. The Year 11 team, comprising Bonnie Wang, Julia Sung, Isobel Denton, and Olivia Wei, along with individual competitor Zara Toes, achieved 1st place in the Global Issues Problem Solving category, securing qualification for the International Finals in Indianapolis in June 2024.

A commendation is also extended to Year 11 student Galathée Gaillard, who attained 3rd place in Global Issues Problem Solving. Notably, the school’s students clinched 3rd place in both the Junior and Middle Divisions of the Global Issues Problem Solving Team event. Special congratulations are in order for the Junior team, featuring Year 7 students Annie Wang, Meera Thayalan, Bella Guthrie, and Aydene Peter, as well as the Middle Division team consisting of Regina Cao, Eassin Wang, Evee Tan, and Violet Liu from Year 10. Recognition is given to all participating students for their respectful, focused, perseverant, and creative efforts.

With over 150 competitors at the Finals, in addition to Senior teams and individuals participating offsite, the achievement reflects the exceptional problem-solving skills of the students. The school eagerly anticipates witnessing the Year 11 team and Zara Toes shine at the International Finals in the coming year.

St Margaret’s College’s Kathryn Gray was appointed to the Adolescent Success Committee

St Margaret’s College’s Head of Middle School Kathryn Gray has been appointed the New Zealand seconded rep to the Adolescent Success Committee.

Adolescent Success serves Middle Years Educators with current best practice and research using events, publications, and networking opportunities so that they can best educate young adolescents.

St Margaret’s College is proud to be the only Middle Years School of Excellence for girls in New Zealand, an association dedicated exclusively to the education, development, and growth of young adolescents.

Learn more about our Middle Years School of Excellence here.

ISNZ Data and Insights Report 2023

Independent schooling in New Zealand provides a significant contribution to society, not only through the quality education of young people but also in the ways it creates and serves communities throughout the country.

This report documents the activities of Independent Schools of New Zealand (ISNZ) member schools for the calendar year 2023 to provide an accurate picture of the independent school landscape in New Zealand. It also shows the distinct benefit that member schools are providing for their stakeholders and the broader communities in which they are located.

Download the full report here:

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School student excels in global Chinese language competition

Year 11 student Telesia Tanoa’i of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School has been named the top Chinese language student in Oceania and one of the top five Chinese learners in the world.

The Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition is an international competition for non-Chinese students to demonstrate their knowledge of Chinese language and culture. The 16th Chinese Bridge attracted 45,000 secondary school students who competed in preliminary competitions across the globe.

After winning the Lower North Island competition run by the Confucius Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, Telesia, accompanied by her Chinese teacher Mrs Jing Ying Herrington and three other regional winners from New Zealand, travelled to China for the global competition. They joined 110 representatives from 97 countries in Beijing and Yunnan province, China from 16-31 October.

Contestants faced a multi-round elimination system, with competitions in academic knowledge, speech, and talent. After several rounds of competition, Telesia claimed the title of Continental Champion for Oceania, alongside Continent Champions from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.

Principal Paula Wells says “We are all so incredibly proud of Telesia; what an incredible ambassador she is for her culture, her family, and her school. This outstanding achievement is testament to her hard work and her beautiful personality, which will have shone through on the international stage.”

Telesia, who was also a Youth Ambassador for New Zealand Chinese Language Week, started learning Mandarin Chinese from a young age thanks to the influence of her mother who is a former New Zealand diplomat and speaks multiple languages. In addition to Mandarin, Telesia is also learning Gagana Samoa, Te Reo Māori, and French.

“I am grateful my parents saw the value in language lessons and that we had the chance to travel when I was growing up. A huge motivation for learning Chinese is that some of my best friends are Chinese Kiwis and Chinese international students. I love learning from them, and sharing my Samoan culture with them too,” says Telesia. 

Another incentive is being able to talk about issues affecting Pacific peoples, such as climate change, with a global audience. A Chinese speech Telesia shared on this topic has been viewed 150,000 times on TikTok.

Telesia hopes her success in the competition will encourage others to learn Chinese and open a world of opportunities and international experiences.

“The competition was intense, but my faith kept me going. I knew my family, my community, and my ancestors were with me. It was an honour to represent Aotearoa and the Pacific region on that stage.”