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New principal the impetus behind change at Tawhai School

Mar 27th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News

MATTHEW Skilton has been quick to make changes in just over a year as principal at Tawhai Primary school.

A whanau support group to support Maori achievement is one of the initiatives he set up.

Almost a quarter of Tawhai’s students are of Maori descent, which is above the national average of 15%.

The Whanau group is made up of the parents of the Maori students, where they discuss issues that face the students and how to support them through it.

Mr Skilton, whose predecessor had been at the school for 24 years, has also restructured the staff and management to help the children progress smoother within the school between the years.

He has formed a new senior management team to give students more consistency between syndicates within the school.

“It’s all about the students to me. It’s all about the students as learners and as future citizens.

“The big thing is that we’re a learning school, we’re a school based on the kid’s wellbeing and learning, as our priorities,” says Mr Skilton.

He is also bringing more computer based learning into the school, and has installed laptops in the classrooms.

Tawhai is Mr Skilton’s first principal’s job after working at Muritai School in Eastbourne.

Along with most of the other principals in the Northern Hutt area, he has voiced his opposition to the possibility of league tables being developed from National Standards.

League Tables are a system which allows parents to judge schools based on the school’s student achievement.

“When you’re not measuring progress, or not considering the difference that you’ve made for those kids in terms of student achievement, then those league tables can be very misleading.

“If I’ve got 70% of kids reading at or above the standard, it looks like I’m well under-achieving. But what happens if it was 50% the year before and I’ve improved my overall achievement by 20%?

“The point being is that a league table isn’t about what difference you’ve made, it’s just about where you’re kids are achieving at,” says Mr Skilton.

Despite being against the tables, Mr Skilton is not against National Standards as a whole.

He thinks National Standards help challenge teachers’ thinking on not relying on one assessment to make an overall judgement on a student’s achievement or abilities.

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