'Exciting new chapter for schooling' in Hamilton

OPEN PLAN LEARNING: Endeavour Primary School principal Marcus Freke, chairman of Endeavour Primary board Bill Noble and National MP David Bennett discussed Hamilton’s newest schools.
OPEN PLAN LEARNING: Endeavour Primary School principal Marcus Freke, chairman of Endeavour Primary board Bill Noble and National MP David Bennett discussed Hamilton’s newest schools.

Pupils at Hamilton's newest schools will be "architects" of their own learning.

At a public meeting in Rototuna last night Endeavour Primary School principal Marcus Freke said the establishment board wanted to create an open plan learning environment to foster collaboration and creativity.

"I don't use the term students or children because we believe the community will all be part of the learning environment. I will be a learner, parents will be learners and students will be driving the learning."

The classes hope to be composite in order to foster relationships between teachers, parents and students over a two-year period.

"Students in that class for a second year will become classroom leaders, but also parents will be able to go to a teacher they trust about issues they may have," Freke said.

About 70 residents turned out to listen to the public forum, but the question of zoning was not directly answered. Hamilton East MP David Bennett said in the absence of the Ministry of Education his comments would be "general".

The ministry will meet with Hamilton City Council on June 20 to finalise zoning for the Rototuna Junior and Senior High School, but at this stage families living north east of Lake Rd and north of Orini Rd will miss out.

The southern boundary will be Wairere Drive.

The high school master plan design was finished in May and is currently under tender with construction hoped to start by January 2015.

Concerned residents were reassured the schools would be entirely publicly operated and increased transport options were being discussed.

Bennett urged the public to take any concerns about pedestrian access on Discovery Drive and transport to council.

Meanwhile, an establishment board of trustees for Rototuna Junior High has been appointed and is in the early stages of creating a vision for the school.

In March, Education Minister Hekia Parata revealed the long-awaited secondary school for Hamilton's north would be a two-stage building project.

First to open in 2016 will be a year 7-10 junior high school, followed by a year 11-13 senior high school which should be open to students in 2017.

Helping guide the new school was a great opportunity for the future of Hamilton but it was early days at the moment, establishment board chairperson Megan Campbell said.

"It's a pretty exciting new chapter for schooling in the wider Waikato. We haven't had a new high school since the early 1970s . . . and also I've got kids sort of in that age bracket," she said.

"We [the board] recognise that we have got a pretty loaded process ahead of us and a short timeframe. But we're very, very committed to that 2016 opening. And that will happen, believe me."

With Campbell on the board are Patricia Radich, Simon Graafhuis, Ken Williamson and Cheryl Christini.

The ministry also provided a governance facilitator, Lois Craill, to support and guide the board.

Board members brought a wide range of expertise, including skills in finance and government relations, experience with property builds and educational leadership, Campbell said.

Almost all had previous experience on a school board of trustees and it was "a really nice fit of people" who would work together and with the community.

The board had already visited several other schools to check out how they worked and get ideas.

"It's easy to think that schools are all about buildings but ultimately it's about what learning is and how the learning occurs within those buildings," Campbell said.

"We are still in the beginning setup process [for the school]. Right from setting up budgets and the like through to looking at ‘What's this school's place going to be in the community that it's within?'."

The work ahead included developing the educational vision, working with designers, creating policies and appointing the foundation principal, education ministry group manager for sector enablement and support Jill Bond said.

The establishment board was appointed in April after the ministry asked for expressions of interest from community members.

Applications were evaluated by a panel including ministry staff and education sector representatives.

A foundation principal for the junior high school would be appointed about 12 months before it opened, so the principal could help appoint other staff.

Waikato Times