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NCEA Change Package 2.0 - dreaming of a different outcome

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Since the announcement of the NCEA Change Package I have vacillated between angry, sad, angry, sad, frustrated and mystified. I constantly seem to be asking myself - how did we land here? How did we end up with a package which feels so very much like, at best, a step backwards and worst a damaging double down on industrial definitions of knowledge as defined by subjects. And even worse, how did we end up with a package which totally failed to address  issues around well being and workload for our young people?

My primary concerns are outlined here: In 2018 we were presented with innovative, future focused opportunities that we were given the opportunity to feedback on. In 2019 we have been presented with a very very different NCEA Change Package that we do not have the opportunity to provide feedback on. It is clear that the latter document was the direct result of the intervention of the coalition of Principals who were upset by the innovations presented in the “big opportunities”. Th…

The Principal Diaries - reflecting on the journey three terms in!

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These school holidays marked the end of my third term at Albany Senior High School. I am absolutely loving my role as Principal at ASHS and I am still pinching myself when I think about how good of a fit it feels for me (and hopefully vice versa as well). It is incredible to think about how much has happened in such a short time. At this point I really do want to give my senior leadership team and all the staff at ASHS a massive warm and fuzzy shout out for the way they have jumped in boots and all!

Below is a bit of an overview and update of the exciting things going on at ASHS. Much of which links directly back to the our trusty annual plan.


Specialist Subjects working on providing visible, deep and inclusive learning. Part of this year’s annual plan is focusing squarely on how we can ensure we are working towards all learning being visible, deep and inclusive. Under the fabulous leadership of Associate Principal Miranda Makin and DP Cristina Casey our specialist subject leaders are …

Opinion Piece: Tomorrow's School Review - little to lose and much to gain

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As the sun set on the school year in 2018, the Tomorrow’s School Independent Taskforce published their report and recommendations. The taskforce looked to review the education system at large, with a particular focus on the ways in which are schools are governed, led and resourced. The report is a weighty tome, coming in at 144 pages and presenting “a package” that identified eight key issues and 32 recommendations with a focus on “developing a system that promotes equity and excellence and ensures that every learner achieves educational success”.

The report is as courageous as it is polarizing and whilst the report and recommendations are detailed, they can, in their relative brevity, leave enough space to enable some to presume the worst. The recent months have seen many responses which represent a diverse range of voices and views - the loudest of which seem to be those driven by ideological positions and a desire to continue to reap the benefits of one’s “luck” and protecting the…

The Principal Diaries - The Annual Plan and putting the plan into action!

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It was an interesting process pulling together my first annual plan as Principal at Albany Senior High School. School Charters and Annual Plans are interesting beasts. To be honest, they appear to be box ticking waffle and weasel words which gather cyber dust in some virtual filing system.

My belief was that a plan can be bloody useful, but only if it was actually designed to be useful. For that reason, I set about researching and reading as many as I could lay my hands on. What I found, for the most part, was (I thought) unnecessarily long winded and either attempted to capture so much in so much detail that they seemed insurmountable or so vague they read like paraphrased business as usual. In the end, the easiest approach was to go to The University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership to look at their resources and templates and have a crack of building something from scratch. The following is my attempt to craft an Annual Plan (this obviously doesn't include the broa…

An open letter to New Zealand students - you are bigger than any exam!

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Kia ora lovely students of New Zealand,

Well, today marks the day that many of you will have experienced the first high stakes external exam of the 2018 NCEA exam season and whilst I do wish you all the best, I also want you to know that you are bigger than any NCEA exam.

An exam is defined by the Collins Dictionary as a formal test that you take to show your knowledge or ability in a particular subject, or to obtain a qualification. 

I would rather focus on what an exam is not:

It is not a measure of if you are bright.

It is not a measure of your potential.

It is not a measure of your worth, either now or in the future.

It is not a measure of your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn.

It is not a measure of your ability to communicate.

It is not a measure of your ability to collaborate.

It is not a measure of your ability to research.

It is not a measure of your creativity.

It is not a measure of your curiosity.

It is not a measure of your willingness to take risks.

It is not a mea…

The Principal Diaries - reflections, observations, opportunities and leadership inquiries

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Well, the first term has felt like something of a whirlwind. It has been a case of of hitting the ground running and any other whirling/high speed metaphors you can think of. Partly this was due to the time of year - being a senior school, the third term ends up feeling like the (nearly) end of the year, with Impact Projects coming to an end this marked a flurry of exhibition, performance and celebratory evenings. The other reason that it has barreled along so quickly is that I was determined to act quickly so as to ensure plans were well and truly in place for 2019.
As I reflected earlier in the term, I am determinedly approaching first-time Principalship as a leader of learning and have tried to be transparent in that leadership (and leading of change) from day one. In my second week I shared with my staff my lens on powerful learning which informed my approach to observing learning across the curriculum and school. After many weeks of digging into school data (attendance and acade…

The Principal Diaries - Getting ConnectED with our community!

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When I applied for the role of Principal of Albany Senior High School, one of the points I covered in my pitch at the interview was my ability and desire to build powerful partnerships and networks for ASHS students:
And finally, I am leader who can build powerful partnerships and networks. 

I have experience in developing productive and warm relationships with local schools to establish a highly effective Kāhui Ako. I bring in depth experience gained as a Projects Pathways and Partnerships Leader and as an Impact Project Guide, having worked with the community and business sector to create rich and authentic learning partnerships for our students. As Education Advisor for the 21st Century Skills Lab and as a board member of NetSafeNZ I have experience that spans across the education and business landscape. I have fostered a vast education, community, innovation and business network that will support the growth and expansion of powerful partnerships for this school and it’s learners.