Dedicated to student development with Christine Leighton

After 42 years in education, St Andrew’s College Rector, Christine Leighton, is very clear about the privilege of spending a career dedicated to the development of young people.

Teenagers are wired to test boundaries and while this has not changed over the last few decades, the world surrounding them has. Schools are places where character is developed, attributes and attitudes are formed, interests and passions are created, and skills and knowledge lead to meaning and understanding. I cannot think of a better place to spend my working life,” says Christine.

For the last 17 years, Christine has been at the helm of St Andrew’s College, following on from nine years as the Principal of St Hilda’s Collegiate School in Dunedin. Attracted to St Andrew’s as a co-educational school, Christine enjoys the variety, energy, positivity, and sense of purpose in leading a community of over 1600 students (from Years 1–13), over 300 staff, and around 13,000 Old Collegians.

As an independent school, St Andrew’s has the ability to resource its campus with facilities that are fit for purpose and support the wide range of academic, sporting and cultural opportunities for which they are well known. Over $130 million has been spent on the St Andrew’s campus over the last 17 years, the latest development being the new Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre which houses dance studios, a Black Box Drama room and the Gough Family Theatre, with capacity for a 265 seated audience.

“This impressive facility is the final piece of the puzzle of a campus transformation which will ensure current and future students enjoy top-class facilities at St Andrew’s for decades to come.”

Enjoying sports and culture

With little time for personal rest or relaxation, Christine feels fortunate to take great enjoyment from supporting students’ sporting and cultural activities. “Watching young people perform on the field or stage,  you are witness to their formation of character and resilience. Learning to compete, win with humility, and be gracious in disappointment, is such an important part of life,” reflects Christine.

When she does find time, a good book (her latest being The Covenant of Water), a thought provoking movie or theatre performance, time with family and friends, and a routine of regular exercise, are all Christine needs to make her life complete.

Developing top students

St Andrew’s College is the South Island’s only independent co-educational school offering Pre-school to Year 13 education.

“This year we celebrate 32 years since St Andrew’s became co-educational, with the percentage of girls across the College as a whole now 45 percent,” says Christine.

First and foremost, St Andrew’s is a place of learning, with a focus on developing a growth mindset and a love of learning. That focus is proving highly successful. In

the 2023 NZQA Scholarship examinations, students achieved an impressive 64 Scholarships, with six of these at the Outstanding level. “Students’ NCEA results were also pleasing, with achievement across all three levels in the

98 and 99 percentile.” Christine is quick to acknowledge her dedicated and professional teaching staff who ensure their students are known as individual learners and provided with the skills and knowledge to achieve their own personal excellence.

“Taking part in our broad co-curricular programmes, whole-school celebrations, and service activities also helps our students to learn many valuable skills and attributes, which complement their academic learning,” says Christine.

In 2024, St Andrew’s is focusing on whole school initiatives of well-being and character development, sustainability, Mātauranga Māori, innovation, and student leadership. In striking a unique blend between the traditional and the innovative, the College has built a brand of education which adapts quickly to the demands of the present while holding true to the values of its founders.

“This gives our young people a combination of freedom and boundaries which we believe results in graduates with roots and wings to flourish in an ever changing world.”

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