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Meet the Principal: Selwyn House School

Dr. Lyn Bird – Principal

At Selwyn House School, the critical skills of creativity, self-regulation, empathy, adaptability, innovation and collaboration are infused throughout the Selwyn House curriculum, culminating in a unique senior leadership programme that prepares all students for their future lives. Our students develop deep discipline knowledge across subjects and then use their ability to collaborate and innovate to solve complex real-world problems. Employers across the world have emphasised the need for today’s young people to possess both deep knowledge and critical human skills, a combination that is commonly termed ‘T-shaped’ professionals – Selwyn House is developing young ‘T-shaped’ students. Their ability to utilise their ‘T-Shaped’ attributes and deep knowledge results in powerful thinking and problem-solving – skills and attributes that are in high demand today and in the future workforce.



Selwyn House School is a leading girls’ school for Years 1-8, with an onsite Boarding House and co-ed Pre-School.

It features modern facilities, outstanding resources, and a rigorous future-focussed curriculum implemented by highly qualified, expert teachers.

The school offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which focusses on the total growth of the developing child, encompassing intellectual, social, physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs.

Their students achieve excellent results in their core subjects and internationally perform significantly higher than the international student cohort.

They consistently achieve at local, national and international competitions, with 73 recipients of national and international awards between 2017 and 2019.

As well as being able to explore their passions in specialist subjects including Science, Mechatronics, Spanish, Music, Visual and Performing Arts, and Physical Education, students undertake future and community problem solving tasks and leadership initiatives.

Selwyn House School has a proud tradition of offering an innovative education that continually adapts to meet future challenges.

The strong ‘STEAM’ programme at Selwyn House School uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

Their STEAM Hub provides every student from Year 1 to 8 access to state-of-the-art equipment including 3D printers, a kiln, a laser cutter, sewing machines and Virtual Reality headsets.

Mechatronics, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence are Selwyn House subjects that ensure students are equipped with 21st century skill sets and fully prepared to lead in a future that is heavy in technology.

The school provides exceptional educational opportunities for girls, in a stimulating and nurturing environment.

Their focus is on developing globally minded learners and leaders who will become confident and capable young women.


Centres of vocational excellence on the horizon

The great inventor Thomas Edison once said that opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.




The construction sector in New Zealand, made up of 250,000 workers, is an industry where it is wonderful to see workers ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and embrace new challenges and opportunities.

Our country and our economy benefit significantly from the industry’s admirable work ethic.

In light of big technology changes on the horizon and the shortfall of 80,000 new construction workers expected over the next five years, we need to ensure that the construction landscape is ready and resilient for what today and tomorrow bring.

Education is a crucial part of a strong industry and this is why the Reform of Vocational Education is underway; the biggest change to vocational education in 25 years.

During extensive engagement and consultation this year, New Zealanders told us they agree that we need a strong, unified and sustainable vocational education system fit for the future of work and capable of delivering the skills learners, employers and communities need to thrive.

An important part of the reform is the Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs).

A CoVE is a consortium of industry groups, subject matter experts, researchers and regional representatives from across a sector who collaborate to support the growth of excellent vocational education provision and sharing of high-quality curriculum and programme design across the vocational education system.

In August 2019, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the first two pilot CoVEs – primary and construction.

The Government will set the general parameters for these CoVEs while the specific design, functions and detailed subject matter will be determined by members of the successful consortia who will be chosen through a selection process starting with a Registration of Interest (RoI).

Consortium applications will be assessed by an independent evaluation panel made up of industry experts in the relevant sectors.

The panel will provide recommendations to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Board who make the funding decisions.

The intent is that successful applicants will be selected and have funding agreements in place for CoVEs to commence establishment from mid-2020.

There is $2.5 million of funding available per year, for up to five years, for each of the first two pilot CoVEs.

While funding is for a defined period, it’s expected CoVEs will be an enduring part of the vocational education system.

Each CoVE will include one of the new Workforce Development Councils; four to seven industry-governed bodies that will take a skills leadership role working with both the industry and providers to ensure the right type of qualifications and programmes are in place.

A series of thought-provoking workshops and webinars were recently held to discuss the potential scope and functions of CoVEs.

Approximately 170 stakeholders from the primary and construction sectors were involved, including representatives from industry groups, peak bodies, iwi, institutes of technology and polytechnics, Industry Training Organisations, wānanga, private training establishments, schools and universities, employers, unions, the institute’s establishment board, and government agencies.

A summary of findings and new Q&As from the workshops and webinars are now live on the TEC website. If you are interested in the RoI process, visit their website.


Leeann Watson

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Education been in the spotlight in recent months – and a shake-up of the sector has been long overdue.


Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

The most significant development has been the decision on the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE), with 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics to be merged into the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) from 1 April 2020, and a handful of Workforce Development Councils to be created.

We look forward to seeing greater collaboration between training providers and the business community to ensure training is fit for purpose and aligned with the skills needed by the industry now and into the future, and to support economic growth, taking into account regional nuances. With the announcement of the NZIST Establishment Board being based in Christchurch, this invites an opportunity to present a strong business case to house the national head office in Christchurch, creating over 100 jobs and reinforcing our position as a national centre for education and innovation.

It’s also imperative we focus on lifelong learning and integrated education that responds to the changing nature of work. That’s why we welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of an additional $14.5 million to the employer-led workplace literacy and numeracy fund – bringing its total contribution to $45 million over the next four years.

Lifelong learning gives employees the opportunity to continue with personal development, enabling them to step into higher-level roles or learn new skills to carry them through different jobs and industries. It also enables the employer to increase productivity meaning that re-training and re-deployment is a priority now more than ever.





Christchurch’s health university: University of Otago, Christchurch

Hidden in plain sight, the University of Otago, Christchurch has been punching above its weight in world-class medical training and health research for a surprising 45 years.



Based in an 8-storey main building on the Christchurch Hospital site, the campus hosts 1000 students either in years 3 to 5 of their medical training or postgraduate students studying up to PhD level, and internationally renowned research project teams which include students, scientists and hospital physicians.

Deputy Dean and Research Professor Vicky Cameron says it is a popular choice for the 330 trainee doctors because of the hospital right next door. However, lesser known are the 700 postgraduate students from varied backgrounds. An astonishing 60 postgraduate programmes are available to PhD level, plus professional programmes. The graduate entry Nursing Masters course is popular: it enables students with any undergraduate degree to obtain their nursing qualifications in just two years!

The PhD in bioengineering is also sought-after. Students have the opportunity to be involved in researching tissue regeneration using 3D printing. Other world-renowned research teams are establishing new blood markers for heart disease, examining cancer genetics, and investigating the genetics of drug response.



Many students bring a BSc or BSc Hons in health sciences, biology, biochemistry or genetics, but no areas of expertise are excluded – “We have graduate students from a really broad base, not just the lab sciences,” Vicky says. “Our Psychological Medicine Department trains and researches in mental health, and those students come with degrees in Psychology.”

The campus’ reputation draws students. “They read international journals and discover the research has been done right here, we have a reputation as a centre of excellence,” Vicky says. Small and collegial, the environment is non-hierarchal with supervisors working alongside students. Experience intensive, the students work hand in glove with the hospital next door and many staff are employed in both the hospital and on campus.



Internationally respected names lead research teams: the Dean – David Murdoch – is an expert in the field of Infectious Diseases, Christine Winterbourne in free radical biology (oxidative stress), Mark Richards in heart disease risk assessment through blood testing, and Martin Kennedy in the genetics of adverse drug response. The Christchurch Health and Development Study has tracked 1200 people from babyhood to now 40 years, leading to key legislative change including the fencing of swimming pools and removing lead from paints and petrol.

Some of the past graduates have become high flyers overseas, such as Dr Robert Peach PhD, who became a successful biotech entrepreneur, the co-founder of a company that was bought out for US$7.5 billion. Vicky gained her PhD here, and her research centres on the genetics of heart disease. “I know I am going to make at least a small difference in answering some of the difficult questions within the system,” she modestly says.

For most of the postgraduate courses there are no fixed enrolments but check the website, and scholarships are available from the University of Otago.



Meet the Principal 2019: Dr Lyn Bird of Selwyn House School



In a world of accelerating change, it is important that girls develop an abundance mindset in order to leverage emerging tools to solve complex challenges. At Selwyn House School we provide all girls with the latest technological tools and the creative environment to collaboratively innovate and develop solutions. A key ingredient of a Selwyn House education is the International Baccalaureate, Primary Years Programme (PYP). The PYP is recognised globally as a future-focused curriculum based on intercultural understanding and respect. In effect, the PYP learner profile attributes we develop in students embody those needed to be a successful future global citizen of the world.



Core learning in English, Mathematics and Science is complemented by transdisciplinary inquiries and rich tasks, which allow high levels of application, creativity and problem-solving. The development of these skills combined with crucial interpersonal skills, such as self-regulation, curiosity, creativity and tolerance, enable Selwyn House girls to become confident and informed individuals eager to take their part in the world. Learning is further enhanced by the active role that our specialist teachers in Mechatronics, Robotics, Performing Arts, Music, Physical Education, Sports, Visual Art and Spanish invest in daily learning.

Small class sizes ensure learning is personalised and teachers are able to build strong connections with each child and provide clear instruction in learning strategies enabling students to take control of their learning, know themselves as learners, self-regulate and develop self-efficacy – all life-long learning skills.
Selwyn House School proudly encourages students to:
• Ask questions and develop strong critical thinking strategies
• Analyse complex concepts, work collaboratively and be adaptable
• Be creative, motivated and determined
• Understand the arts and humanities and their interconnections to the STEM disciplines
• Have a strong sense of empathy for others, be a confident leader and persist when facing challenges

You are invited to visit Selwyn House School to learn more about their future-focused learning environment for girls in Years 1-8, the nurturing Boarding House and co-educational pre-school with a personalised tour.

Meet the Principal 2019: Christine Leighton of St Andrew’s College



St Andrew’s College has great respect for its long history and proud traditions, and is also focused on creating new opportunities to inspire future generations, says Christine Leighton, the only female Rector at St Andrew’s throughout its 101 year history. “We have a new strategic direction, Framing our Future, which combines the best of the past with the possibilities of the future. Our vision is to be at the leading edge of high performance educational practice, in a community which values caring for others, tradition, and creativity, in order to provide young people with the roots and wings to flourish in an ever-changing world.”



Christine is a great believer in girls and boys being educated alongside one another. “I went to a co-educational school myself and believe it is the best way to prepare young people for their future.” She is proud of the response shown by St Andrew’s College students in the wake of the recent terror attack. “Our students showed great compassion and leadership in support of a number of initiatives in Christchurch, with three of our Year 12 students organising the March for Love. We have seen a genuine desire from students to make their world of the future a better place.”

Students at St Andrew’s are encouraged to strive for excellence in their academic, sporting and cultural pursuits, with their successes widely celebrated. Christine was delighted with the College’s outstanding academic success in 2018, which she says is up there with the best schools in the country. “A group of 24 students achieved 43 New Zealand Scholarships between them, including 13 Outstanding Scholarships. Three of our Year 13 students gained a place in the top 50 students nationwide, including College Dux, Russell Boey, who was named as one of the top 11 scholars in New Zealand. ”

St Andrew’s is renowned for the wide range of sporting and cultural pursuits on offer. Its individual athletes and sports teams regularly win South Island and New Zealand titles, and have won recent South Island or National titles in girls’ volleyball, mixed and boys’ tennis, mixed adventure racing, athletics, and rowing. Cultural opportunities on offer include Pipe Band, musical theatre, and 25 different music groups.St Andrew’s College is the only independent school offering co-educational boarding in the South Island, with boarders well catered for in state-of-the art boarding houses. A Positive Education and Well-being programme is in place to support students’ well-being, and to help them flourish and develop a broad set of character strengths, virtues, competencies and a positive mindset, Christine says.


Meet the Principal 2019: Gary O’Shea of Nelson College


For more than 160 years, Nelson College has continued to provide high quality education for all boys. The college encourages its students to enjoy diverse opportunities, pursue passions and become resilient in their quest for excellence. Each boy is valued and supported through a positive school culture that is based on respectful relationships. At its core, a quest for excellence requires a pervasive, strong and positive school culture. This culture needs to be driven by dedicated staff and I am fortunate to have a staff of the highest calibre. At Nelson College, each boy is valued, respected and encouraged along his journey through adolescence.



Nelson College is New Zealand’s oldest state secondary school. Its proud traditions sit as a backdrop to cultural diversity, innovative teaching practice and widespread opportunities for boys. Its reputation as a high achieving school continues to be affirmed as the school inspires its young men to take their place in the world through the values of manaakitanga. Every boy is encouraged to develop a strong work ethic, alongside valuing themselves and others through respect, inclusiveness, generosity and service. Nelson College welcomes the involvement of whānau and recognises the value of the wider community’s support in helping to create a shared culture of excellence in every aspect of college life.

Nelson College provides a quality education for boys. Academic results are consistently above national average rates of achievement for boys. This is due to their use of teaching approaches and courses that cater for boys and their style of learning, as well as the school promoting a culture of self-review and improvement. Alongside a strong academic focus, Nelson College offers courses in arts, drama, music, technology and community; providing a well-rounded learning environment. Nelson College’s well-established Sports Academies provide programmes for both individual and team activities, which continue to meet success at a national level.

At the heart of the school are the two newly renovated boarding houses – Rutherford and Barnicoat – where boys from around New Zealand and the world live in a community in which they are supported throughout their education. In addition, Nelson College is located in one of New Zealand’s most thriving regional centres, with access to everything the region has to offer.


Meet the Principal 2019: Diana Patchett of St Margaret’s College



St Margaret’s College is the best of both worlds – it’s a modern school with incredible facilities and opportunities for girls, founded on traditional family and Christian values. It’s a traditional school, rich in culture and heritage, filled by modern girls who can realise gender equality in their future and modern families who share high expectations for their girls. These expectations are not just academic ones, for today’s parents know the importance of developing the so-called soft skills in setting each girl up for a bright future. St Margaret’s continues to be amongst the top academic schools in the country while giving our girls a rich and rewarding involvement in sports and the arts to an elite level.



Making that all important decision around schooling is one no parent takes lightly. It is a significant investment, but one that your child will reap the rewards of for the rest of their life. “No two children are the same, and that is a good thing,” Executive Principal Diana Patchett says. “At SMC, we celebrate diversity, we amplify it, for we know that each girl comes to us with her own gifts and abilities, and that it is our privilege to uncover those, and more, to set her up for success, whatever success looks like for her, as she moves through our school and then out into the world.”

Knowing and playing to your strengths, being an open-minded and flexible thinker, having confidence in your own skills and abilities, practising well-developed interpersonal and collaborative skills to be able to work well with others, and perhaps most importantly, demonstrating the resilience to embrace failure as a necessary means to realising a solution to new challenges – these are invaluable life skills for all ages. It is the aspiration of St Margaret’s College to set its students up for success.

The development of these powerful graduate attributes is intrinsic to the academic, social, physical and spiritual programmes they afford the girls in their care. In this way, any concerns for the unknown aspects of their future can become a tailwind that propels them forward and not a headwind to hold them back. St Margaret’s College looks forward to welcoming you to the school, so you can experience first-hand how they can set your daughter up for success.

Book your personal tour by contacting registrar Lizzie Dyer at For further information visit


Meet the Principal 2019: Ian Macpherson of Medbury School



While Medbury School enjoys a strong reputation as a progressive preparatory school for boys locally, nationally and internationally, the School has at its core, an engaging family feel, which extends both within and beyond the school gate. Traditional Christian values, supported by a strong emphasis on manners and respect, underpin the School’s mission ‘to unlock the potential of every boy’. Now in his second year as Headmaster, Mr Ian Macpherson has overseen Medbury join the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) and partner with Swinburne University to establish programmes to support emotional intelligence.



With 30 years as a specialist in boys’ education, Mr Macpherson and has seen first-hand the difference a boy-friendly approach has on maximising academic engagement as well as social and emotional development. “A boy with values is a boy set for life. The School motto, Play the Game, reinforces the standard for all student behavior and attitudes, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, in social interaction and activities, or beyond the school gates,” Mr Macpherson says.

The School’s Boarding House is an integral part of school life and home to boarders from different areas of New Zealand and overseas. “Helping boys master skills, which help them tackle greater obstacles and ask more ‘why’ questions, drives our curriculum development and implementation programmes,” he says. “We also value the learning opportunities that take place beyond the classroom and Medbury boys are truly blessed to be extended in so many ways.”

Medbury’s partnership with Swinburne University of Technology is a new and exciting initiative aimed at developing emotional intelligence (EI) via the Aristotle-EI programme. “When a Medbury boy leaves for secondary school, he does so with an education equipping him for life in the 21st century. He will leave us a well-rounded individual; a motivated and independent learner; and a critical thinker with high self-esteem, who reacts to others and the changing world around him, with confidence and good grace,” Mr Macpherson says.

“Friendships, values and a quiet self-confidence that comes with sound preparation, will provide an invaluable foundation for his journey ahead. Selecting a school to meet your high expectations and your son’s needs is important. I would like to invite you to Medbury to show you first-hand what sets our school apart as an exceptional Australasian preparatory school.”


Meet the Principal 2019: Scott Thelning of The Cathedral Grammar School



‘Every child. Every day.’ This simple yet powerful statement is the essence of my educational philosophy. It seems so obvious, yet in a school setting, can get lost in the pursuit of greatness, narrow measures of success and the needs of adults. At The Cathedral Grammar School your child is truly at the heart of the matter as we set about nurturing them, knowing them and growing them in a holistic and heart focused manner. Of course, academic performance and high expectations are key, but not at the expense of their wellbeing and the development of skills and qualities to thrive in a challenging and evolving world.



At The Cathedral Grammar School your child is in an environment that values their heart as well as their head. It’s the Grammar Way. The girls at our school enjoy the best of both worlds. In the Preschool and Junior School, girls receive the benefit of all that co-education has to offer. As they get older, their learning styles can start to differ from the boys. So, for Years 4-8, they are split into two separate schools. Based in their own respective classrooms within the school grounds, the girls and boys schools work independently but are closely aligned. This means the school can specifically tailor learning.

The Head Girl, Lucy, is the third of three girls in the Vance family to attend Cathedral Grammar and relishes the unique Cathedral Grammar culture. “The whole Girls’ School is basically a big family and everyone supports each other and they know everyone.” The prime inner city position means they make the most of the wonderful nearby resources. The girls head to Ara Institute for Engineering and Food Technology, Christ’s College to study Hard Materials and some students are involved in an Enrichment Programme at Tūranga, the new central city library. This is an exciting opportunity and aims to enrich and extend the school’s current learning programmes inside and outside the classroom.

Every week the girls and boys come together for what we call an Hour of Power, where they’ll study a myriad of subjects such as Robotics, Coding, Electronic Music 101, Collage Fabric and Food Art and French. They also join forces for extension classes in Maths and English, for chapel, assemblies, sport and fitness. Recognising that a well-rounded character is just as important as academic success, all students are involved in community service, helping to enrich the lives of others. “We would love your daughter or son to be part of our community, our family.”