In 2010, I was appointed Principal, leading Golden Sands Primary School, the brand new school in Papamoa. Starting up a new school from scratch requires teamwork, a shared vision and commitment. Community input was also a key factor in ensuring that our new school was successful. It’s important that good relationships are established and there is a strong vision for the school, which is owned by the community.
Although being the principal of a new school does have its challenges, I was able to seek advice and support from other principals of new schools. My University of Waikato Master of Educational Leadership studies really opened my eyes to leadership theory and practice and shifted my thinking. Having first-hand experience and theoretical understanding of such a challenge really helped me hit the ground running.
For my thesis, I conducted an in-depth case study, which included interviews and observations into the learning culture in a new school, in particular Golden Sands School. Writing a thesis that is relevant to my work was incredibly beneficial. My thesis enabled me to really analyse and dissect the process we were going through. Because there is limited research around the establishment of a new school, I hope my thesis can be useful to others in the same situation.
Originally, Golden Sands started with 83 Year 1-4 students, but now there are 430 students up to Year 6. It is a innovate learning environment (ILE), whereby teachers have had to adapt to team teaching, new facilities and a new approach to the curriculum.