From the WGHS Board 

Joy Bradfield
Presiding Member

My last Board report gave an overview of the topics we covered at our first meeting on 22 February.

This week we held our second meeting of the year. In addition to the regular governance items scheduled throughout the year, a highlight for the Board is our curriculum reviews. This week we received an impressive presentation from Susana Tomaz, TIC of Westlake’s STEAM programme, who presented the structure of STEAM in Years 9 and 10, and the benefits of joint lessons and integrated project-based learning.

Susana then went on to talk about STEAM in Year 11, where students enter the ESTEAM programme. There, along with integrated assessments, students benefit from connection with the world of work through mini internships with companies such as The Warehouse Group, Deloitte, IAG and Genesis.

Susana touched on the fact that Westlake Girls High School is leading the way when it comes to STEAM programmes in New Zealand schools. She was asked to present Westlake’s programme at the STEAM Summit Conference and Computer Science for High School Teachers Conference, with student participation.

She also spoke about the high percentage of students who want to study science, technology or engineering as a result of participating in the STEAM programme.

Susana finished by saying that STEAM might not be for every student, but every student can gain something from the programme. As a Board we will continue to support and grow this innovative and exciting opportunity for our students.

We would also hope that all our students, in whatever curricular areas they are in, actively seek out all the opportunities that are available to them at school, to grow their skills and talents, and try new things, during their high school years.

Covid update

Carol Wright, our Board staff representative, reported on the challenges of Covid on internal assessments – particularly for the more practical subjects; and the adaptions that have had to be made to accommodate staff and student absences. The completion of the junior students’ PAT tests; and our role in piloting the Year 10 Literacy co-requisite qualification was referenced. Pilots like this benefit both students and staff, as students have the opportunity to gain 10 credits in their literacy before they have to complete Level 1, and staff have the work in place in preparation for the introduction of new Level 1 standards. Again, it’s rewarding seeing WGHS at the forefront of new developments in the education sector.

At the meeting, the Board made a point of acknowledging the school’s staff, who have worked through a difficult term affected by Covid in their classrooms and homes. We’ve been fortunate that there has been no evidence of transmission within our school, and we have reached the end of term without needing to stagger attendance of year levels onsite. The Board is very grateful to the teachers who have stepped up to take on extra classes, the Senior Leadership Team for their strong support and guidance, and to Deputy Principal Paul Davis, in particular, for creating the school’s Covid policies based on direction from the Ministry of Education and the Covid Protection Framework. Acknowledgement was made in support of the students who likewise have followed the advised health and safety covid protocols despite mask fatigue etc. These robust procedures, along with the collective team effort, have seen us fare better than other schools in Auckland, and the Board acknowledged the school’s work in keeping students and staff as safe as possible during this time.

Positive outcomes for Māori

Another exciting area that our Board is actively engaged in is seeing ‘Māori enjoying and achieving education success as Māori’. We, as a Board, are working to ensure that the school gives effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (under Section 127 of the Education and Training Act (2020)), and that our plans, policies, and curriculum reflect local tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori, and te ao Māori.

We have made instruction available in tikanga Māori and te reo Māori and are supportive of the developments and growth in this curricular area with more students embracing te reo Māori. Our results indicate that our Māori students are achieving equitable outcomes, and educational success as Māori at our school. Members of our audit committee recently attended workshops aimed at giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and received positive feedback on the progress we are making in this area. Giving effect to Te Tiriti is a journey rather than an event, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As we continue to listen to the voice of Māori through our co-opted member, Challen Wilson, and work through tools provided by the MOE to assist us, we can see the progress and feel the momentum that’s taking place in this space. We look forward to engaging more with our community in this regard as Covid levels permit.

Polyfest 2022

We were also thrilled with the results of our Kapa Haka group, which was the only group from the North Shore to participate in Polyfest, and who won the Haka Taparahi (female haka), coming a very respectable 9th overall. This was a  great achievement, especially during Covid times, and a testament to the hard work of the Kapa Haka group, their leaders and alumni, who assisted in their success.

Board Governance

Supporting the school through effective Board governance is a rewarding role that we, as elected parents, can play in advancing effective education for the wāhine/girls in our community. There are increasing legislative requirements placed on schools and I’ve seen the difference that effective governance can make to the Principal and the management of a school.

Good governance, enables the principal and staff to focus on the school’s vision and goals for its students with confidence. The Board comprises elected parents with a range of professional backgrounds, skills and experiences which cover the importance governance areas of finance, personnel, property,  health & safety and risk management, along with development (sponsorship etc) and policy reviews. The Board has co-opted skillsets where needed to ensure that we have the right oversight to inform the Board. This especially applied to the recent Events Centre construction project, and meeting the ongoing requirements of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Perhaps you might like to consider supporting the school by standing for Board election in September? Our Board meetings are held in public and you are welcome to attend, please contact Marie McKerrow for further information by emailing [email protected]

Pictured top is the Board from left: Challen Wilson (Co-opted Member), Jane Stanley (Principal), Carol Wright (Teacher Member), Russell Clements (Member), Carolyn Ranson (Deputy Presiding Member), Kim Tay (Member), Joy Bradfield (Presiding Member), and Marie McKerrow (Board Secretary). Absent is Member Andrew Hofmyer.