Firstly, in the 2021 Tonga Sixth Form Certificate assessments, St Andrew’s scored a 76% pass rate, compared with the national average of 49%. The school received a special mention in the Ministry of Education’s circular announcing the results, for their improvement from 30% in 2020. Numbers are small, and percentages can get skewed as a result, but this does at least show that academically the school has put some of the uncertainties of 2019/20 and the change of leadership behind it.
Because we have been unable to visit the school and talk with the principal, we have not felt confident to make any funding grants apart from the normal fees scholarships. Our contributions to St Andrew's have always been made in consultation with those who are leading the school, and it is unfortunate that with the Covid outbreak, we have not yet been able to meet with and talk to the new Principal, Mrs 'Ana Finau.
However money was sent to the school in March to pay fees for needy school students, and for a number of ex-students who are undertaking tertiary study. In 2021 a total of 54 students had their fees paid by sponsors, and 7 ex-students received a contribution towards their tertiary fees. As always, we are grateful to our supporters who donate towards these fees, as we are also to those who donate untagged funds.
Although it was not strictly in 2021, we can report on the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in January 2022. This caused a lot of anxiety among supporters and friends of the Hornsby Trust, particularly as communications were cut and news was slow to emerge.
After near a week of no communication, we were able to make phone contact with Melenaite Schaumkel, the school secretary. She reported that the school buildings were undamaged, as the tsunami only penetrated one block back from the beach in Nuku'alofa. There was, however, a thick coating of ash over the whole school. This was (relatively) good news.
She was unable to tell us about any staff or students' families who have lost houses or plantations as yet, but she did report that the family of the former Principal, Rev Mo'unga Maka, have lost their entire plantation near Kolovai on the Western side of Tongatapu. The school is due to reopen normally for 2022, and students will spend the first few days clearing ash from buildings and grounds.
During 2021 the Trustees of the Welstor Trust - set up by Mary Hornsby for charitable purposes - decided to scale back their activity, and gained High Court permission to transfer the bulk of their remaining funds to the Hornsby Trust. This has given us the possibility of further avenues of support for the school, and we are particularly eager to talk this through with Mrs Finau, and begin to use our new funding stream to make a difference to the education offered by St Andrew's.
With that in mind we hope to have an opportunity to visit St Andrew's in 2022.
We wish to thank our fellow trustees, David Brown, Jonathan Austin and Angus Ogilvie, for their watchful and encouraging oversight of the Trust. We particularly thank Angus and his company Generate Accounting, for carrying our the many tasks associated with our financial side. The 2021 Charities NZ Performance Report prepared by Generate will be added to this report about April, when it is finalised.
We are also grateful for the continuing support given by Aiscorp, our computer supporters, who have taken on more serious work to repair the St Andrew's system after a crash. Thank you to Elmar Gailitis and Aiscorp.
We are always conscious of the large number of faithful supporters who contribute to the Trust, enabling us to provide a better education for the young people of St Andrew's. Thank you, and may God bless you.
Simon and Rachel Tipping