Bronze Staff Travel Award Report

By Ashley McKenzie.

I was lucky enough to receive the Bronze Staff Travel Award at the end of 2022 for my contribution and commitment to Westlake Girls’ High School over the last six years. This travel award has enabled me to grow as a teacher, colleague, leader, and volleyball coach.

I proposed a trip to Australia to immerse myself in the Australian curriculum to build upon and continue to develop my strengths, characteristics, and leadership capabilities within my department. This experience has enabled me to gather and create new resources for our school.

My objectives were to investigate programmes that schools offer through the lens of Physical Education and Health, encouraging high engagement of students across a diverse range of needs. I also aimed to examine the development programmes available for volleyball at all-girls schools to enhance the success of both individual athletes and teams.

This opportunity has created positive changes in our current day-to-day programmes and enabled high-quality resources that are successful at schools with the same special character. I have also shown my colleagues what is happening across different regions in Australia and brought innovative, modern, and engaging resources to our department. These insights will enhance our collaborative environment and enable us to meet all learning needs across a range of cohorts.

I travelled to Adelaide in South Australia, where I visited Roma Mitchell Secondary College and Brighton Secondary School. At Roma Mitchell, I gained insight into their Physical Education and Health programmes and saw how they have set up their sports academies across all year levels. I observed multiple classes and saw the structure and set-up of PE and sport. I then spent a day at Brighton Secondary School (one of South Australia’s most prestigious volleyball schools). I visited their volleyball gymnasium, meeting the staff and students involved in their sports programmes. The facilities were incredible, with an entire volleyball gymnasium and sports academy for all year levels and outside beach courts. I gathered and created resources with the woman who founded the Volleyball program over 30 years ago. I plan to use this research to allow volleyball into Westlake’s future Cygnet programmes.

My trip then took me to Melbourne, Victoria, where I was lucky enough to visit two schools, Haileybury and Strathcona Girls Grammar School. One was an all-girls high-achieving school, and the other was a private co-educational school. I observed both the physical education programmes in action across a few days while also meeting the staff and gaining resources to use back in New Zealand. I met a diverse range of wonderful people and made many excellent connections.

I am immensely grateful for the experience and excited about continuing to implement the inspiring and practical learning from my trip into life here at Westlake.