New king of King's College

HUMBLE: Principal Michael Leach is leaving Botany Downs Secondary College to take up the post of head at Kings College.
HUMBLE: Principal Michael Leach is leaving Botany Downs Secondary College to take up the post of head at Kings College.

Michael Leach's appointment to head a top private college brings to an end a 10-year stint leading one of East Auckland's newest schools.

The outgoing Botany Downs Secondary College principal says it is humbling yet daunting to be chosen to start term four as head of King's College.

Previous heads came from overseas, but the New Zealand public education system is among the best in the world, Leach says.

"I think the King's board want to reflect that, and they want their school to reflect the richness that New Zealand educators can bring to a learning organisation."

All of Leach's leadership appointments have been challenging, he says.

He spent six years as principal of the decile one Tangaroa College in Otara before starting in 2005 at Botany only one year after the school was formed.

"If you are at a decile one or 10 school nothing changes - every student who walks through the gate deserves the best opportunities to learn," he says.

"Each student's success in their pathway is important, and you should never lose sight of the fact that we need to personalise every student's learning programme. Hopefully I've been able to do that for most of the kids."

Leach will start his tenure boarding at King's College. The idea was part choice and part suggestion so he gets a taste of how his new students live.

"You are their surrogate parents for a big chunk of their time," he says.

"The culture of this school is not only in the classroom and the playgrounds but it's in their boarding facilities."

The Botany roll has grown from 300 to more than 1800 from 60 different cultures.

During that time it has been recognised "as one of the best educational institutes in the state system," he says.

He is proud of what he has achieved and shares credit with his students and staff.

Leach is moving from a modern college to a place with 118 years of history, tradition and experience.

"My role, I guess, is to respect what has happened in the past and to value what's happening in the present, but to look to the future and try and make sure that the school is geared for what happens in education."

Technology teaching is going through a watershed time, he says.

"If you are not onboard that wave then the kids are going to get left behind in terms of being able to contribute in society as we go on."

The 53-year-old is South Auckland "born and bred", played for Manurewa Rugby Club and was a loose forward for Counties from the late 1970s to early 1990s.

He is still involved on the board of Counties Manukau and is an adviser for Manurewa Rugby Club.

Leach says it is an advantage that he understands the South Auckland community.

"King's has a really strong community focus, they've got an expectation that the students will contribute to the community in which the school is."

King's College board chairman Ross Green says Leach was chosen for his leadership, passion for sport and his experience with modern teaching.

"Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in leading high-performing schools," he says.

Eastern Courier