Address: 282 Victoria Avenue, Remuera, Auckland | Telephone: (09) 520 0602
E-mail: [email protected] | web:

Newsletter: Term 2 Week 2 – 11 May 2017

Dear All,

I have been conducting research on how to improve the teaching and learning of writing across our school. This has lead me to look more closely at the factors that influence writing. For example the Ministry of Education 2006 “ states: “It is well established through studies and theories of language learning that oral language underpins written language: the two are closely interrelated”. Therefore based on this premise, if we were able to raise the standard of oral language teaching and learning at VAS we could potentially extend not only the achievement of writing but also other curriculum areas.

Oral language is vital in all learning and all social interaction. Whenever we think, read and write and whenever we communicate with others, we are drawing on oral language in some way. Oral language has always been a fundamental component of the English curriculum. However its role in supporting learning is not limited to one curriculum area. It’s our oral language that enables us to become literate, to think, and to communicate.  Educational psychologists like Jerome Bruner (1966) stressed proficiency in oral language because he regarded it as a vital tool for thought. He claimed without a fluent and structured oral language, children will find it very difficult to think abstractly and symbolically.

Therefore when I came across an article from the New Zealand Herald (September 15, 2016) by Nicholas Jones & Catherine Gaffaney stating that early childhood centres and primary schools around the country had noted a decline in the spoken-language abilities of new entrants, I was concerned. Don McLean, principal of Hampden Street School in Nelson, said the oral language skills of about 10 to 15 of the school’s 70 new entrants each year were well below standard. The principal went on to say:

“We had boys a couple of years ago that were from a Kiwi family but spoke with American accents. It was because they’d learned to speak watching Disney Channel.”What we’re seeing is kids who don’t speak in sentences – they speak in phrases . . . and they don’t have a very wide vocabulary.

School leaders and specialists in linguistics suspected the problem could be caused by factors including children using gadgets too often and parents not talking to their children enough. It was highlighted that the ability of children to express themselves in the classroom is essential to their cognitive development and future learning. Therefore, what can be done to lift the standard of oral language of our students?

There are many strategies teachers can use to enhance oral language within the classroom programme. As part of my research I will be be promoting these strategies schoolwide. However for our teaching and learning to be successful we need your support.  

These are some ways you can help to develop your child’s oral language skills:

  • Reading to your child frees them from the labour of decoding and supports them in becoming active listeners. They enrich their vocabulary by hearing new words in context and insights into the way language works (MoE 2003).
  • When your child starts a conversation, give your full attention whenever possible.
  • It’s natural for children to mispronounce or misuse new words. However, it’s essential not to reprimand when they make such mistakes. Rather, applaud your child’s attempt, point out what they got right, and then review the proper way to use and or speak the word. The more fun and positive an experience, the more interested and able your children will be in expanding their vocabulary.
  • Treat children as if they are skilled at conversation. Give them your full attention and focus on what they say.
  • Ask open-ended questions to follow up on what they share.
  • Ask children questions about things to which you do not know the answer. Questions that ask children to reflect on a topic or to formulate opinions and explain them not only show children that you value their ideas but also encourage them to think about their own feelings and ideas.
  • Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation. Continue to build vocabulary. Introduce a new word and offer its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood.
  • If you want your children’s language skills to improve, take their vocabulary questions seriously. When they express curiosity about a word, be sure to teach the correct definition and pronunciation. Do your best to simplify definitions, but provide copious detail and examples.

  • Kind Regards

    Jane Cameron

    Class and Individual Photos

    Photolife will be at school on Monday 15 May to take class and individual photos. If you would like sibling photographs taken, please get a request form from the office.

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    DRAMA/SPEECH LESSONS: Click here for information
    MUSIC LESSONS: Click here for information on Musiqhub music lessons

    FOR TERM 2 2017
    Click here for details on these activities.
    Click here
    for After School and Holiday Community Based Programmes and Activities for 2017

    What’s Ahead?


    School Times
    School starts:      8.50am
    Interval:             10.30-10.50am
    Lunch:               12.30-1.25pm
    School finishes:   3.00pm

    Term Dates for 2017
    Term 1: Wednesday 1 February to Thursday 13 April 2017
    ~ Waitangi Day Monday 6 February ’17
    ~ Good Friday 14 April
    Term 2: Monday 1 May to Friday 7 July 2017
    ~ Queen’s Birthday Monday 5 June ’17
    Term 3: Monday 24 July to Friday 29 Sept 2017
    Term 4: Monday 16 October to Friday 15 December 2017
    ~ Labour Day Mon 23 October ’17

    Stationery Sales
    Tuesdays and Thursdays: 8.30-8.45am

    Uniform Shop
    – half way up dragon drive in the old dental clinic

    OPEN FRIDAYS only: 8.15-8.45am
    Orders and payments for uniform can be made online on our website ~ Click hereSave

    Lunch Orders
    1. ‘Daily Lunch and Catering’ ordered through ezLUNCH: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – ONLINE ORDERS ONLY
    Join ezlunch today  and Place an order  Sushi is available through Daily Lunch and Catering
    2. Pita Pit: ordered through ezLUNCH: Thursdays – ONLINE ORDERS ONLY
    Join ezlunch today  and Place an order
    3. Subway: Wed and Fri – ONLINE ORDERS ONLY
    Register to order online at

    School Dental Service
    8b Ngaio St Orakei Ph5200603.

    The dental team will be posting letters to all new entrants to our school as required.

     Remember to ‘like’ Victoria Avenue School on Facebook.facebook_like_small

    PLEASE, PLEASE CHECK FOR NITS – a number of classes have reported nits and if your infected child is not treated then many others will be!
    Here is a link from NZ Health for info and treatment.


    Reminder school Banking is on every Wednesday
    To join go to the ASB display/banking box in the foyer.

    VAS School App

    To download the app for free on iPhone or Android click this link.

    Fundraiser – $5 to the School for each Subscription to NZ Rugby World Kids Magazine

    Langhills Publishing is offering our school the opportunity to sell subscriptions to NZ Rugby World Kids magazine and keep $5 for every one sold. Please click here for the flyer to subscribe. The offer runs until 31 May.