Country’s largest school recognised for good governance

Issue: Volume 95, Number 22

Posted: 5 December 2016
Reference #: 1H9d5n

Earlier this year Rangitoto College was named the winner of the Excellence in Governing – Awatea Award at the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

The judging panel for the awards noted that the school’s Board of Trustees’ governance skills showed them to be masters of complexity in scale and in culture.

“Powerful strategic direction is focused on self-improvement day by day, building staff capability and innovation in teaching and learning that is driving achievement to far exceed national levels,” the judges said.

Board of Trustees vice-chairman Mike Shaw says the board was very pleased and proud to have won the award.

“We want a world class educational experience for our students,” he says. “Strong governance and good leadership of the school are two of the pillars that help make us successful.”

Despite having more than 3,000 students on the roll, Rangitoto College has gone more than four years without a student disciplinary case coming before its board. So how has the Board of Trustees at Rangitoto College become so successful?

“A lot of our success comes down to good leadership in the school and great teachers,” Mike says. “With more than 3,000 students, 195 teachers and 80 support staff, there is the potential for things to go really badly, but it doesn’t, it goes really well."

“There is a good understanding at Rangitoto College of what is governance and what is management. There is a lot of trust from the board in the principal to do his job."

“At the end of the day we’re basically parents elected to a board of trustees, but we take the role of governance and of being a board very seriously.”

Mike says one of the challenges for big schools is supporting every single student to achieve to a high level.

“We have a very strong focus on every student achieving,” he says. “At Rangitoto College, everybody is very much an individual and is encouraged to be the best that they can be.”

One of Rangitoto College’s biggest innovations has been the development of a professional learning and development programme for staff.

“In our 2007 Education Review Office report there was a small comment about how PLD could be made slightly more cohesive at the school,” Mike says.

“The school, with board approval, then decided to take eight teaching staff down to part-time teaching hours so that these staff could really look at how teaching happened in the school."

“It was decided that if we had a system to look at what works best and then address issues as soon as possible, then we could have the best outcomes for students.”

All teachers at Rangitoto College are encouraged to look at best practice examples from around the world.

“It’s great to be at a school that has teachers striving to do better every day,” he says. “When you go into the staffroom you hear teachers talking about the best ways of doing things and how they can do better.”

Mike says entering the awards was a good opportunity for Rangitoto College to self-review.

“On a day-to-day basis you can think you’re doing okay, so it was a good opportunity to step back and look at how we were going. I started to think that we had a pretty strong case."

“Winning the award was a good acknowledgement that we’re doing okay.”

The 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards are now open. To find out more about the awards, and to enter, go to www.pmawards.education.govt.nz(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:47 PM, 5 December 2016

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