From the Tumuaki/Principal’s Desk

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa. Welcome to the Westland High School newsletter for August 2023.

Kia ora e te whānau

My sincere and deep thanks for the warmth of the welcome my whānau have received arriving in Hokitika and at Westland High School. I want to acknowledge the work of the staff over Term 2 and in particular acknowledge the Senior Leadership Team and the roles Mrs Reeves, Mr Bailsford and Ms Bateup played in stepping up to lead the school.

One of my goals, and certainly what attracted me to Westland High School, was the real opportunity, despite the demands of principalship, to get to know our learners and for them to know their Principal and the aspirations we have for them. I am impressed with the manaakitanga shown by our students and their willingness to make themselves known to me as I familiarize myself with the school, its facilities and the range of opportunities the school provides for them.

My intention is initially to spend as much time as I can learning about Westland High School, its staff and its community. I subscribe to the notion that one should seek first to understand, then to be understood. This means I am seeking to learn deeply about the strengths of Westland High School, what are our exciting challenges and what are our aspirations for our rangatahi. This will inevitably identify a range of things for us as a school to consider and I appreciate in advance you taking the time to share these with me.

What is particularly timely about this opportunity to engage with the school, is that it ties directly in with the new direction from the Ministry of Education around school planning and reporting: Te Whakangārahu Ngātahi Planning Together for Ākonga Success: Our School, Our Community. Out of this engagement will emerge the strategic plan for Westland High School that builds on the work already done and adopts the requirements now in place to engage and hear from you, our students and our community. I look forward to hearing from you and please take the opportunity to help me understand more about how we can work together to achieve excellence in education within culturally inclusive practice for our students.

A little about me. As you may have read I am an educator of 30 years who has worked in a variety of schools in New Zealand and abroad. I have four children, one of whom is still at high school and has joined Westland High School. I have been involved in school leadership in one form or another for the majority of my career and took up the role as a principal 6 years ago. I believe that:

  • “If you stuff up, fess up and we will help you put it right.”
  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” – so work hard.
  •  Education is an opportunity that you need to grab with both hands – find your passion.
  •  Turning up is fundamental to success in life – attending school correlates to success.
  •  Every person is unique, of value and has a talent – find it and do what you love.
  •  Kindness is the expression of our desire to be treated kindly – be kind.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the success of students this term in sport and in their efforts to make progress towards academic success. We will be celebrating this in our Formal Assembly next week. To the Footloose cast and crew – break a leg. I look forward to seeing the show.

What’s on top

It seems that once again smartphones and their place in schools is a hot topic for discussion nationally. My view is that school communities are best placed to determine how they might approach this issue balancing prohibition views with individual responsibility and the need for young people who are living in a digital world to learn to self-manage.

However, what is true and acknowledged widely, is that it is challenging to mediate the impact of the digital world on our young people and when serious and disturbing issues arise on digital platforms they inevitably create a workload and burden for educators as schools deal with the impact of external events and how that impacts on student wellbeing. There can be no opportunity without responsibility. How we model, teach this and guide our children in navigating this space is a collective challenge that must be met and is certainly important. 

Ngā mihi nui
Nic Richards