Principals’ Update – Term 2 Week 2 2020

Wellbeing   –   Key Competencies   –   Community Engagement

Kia ora Pupuke Kāhui Ako whānau. Below, is our first Principal’s Update for 2020. Given the unprecedented period we find ourselves all living through, we invite you to share it with your leadership team, staff and community, to the extent that you feel is appropriate at this time.

During this time we have been thinking about our roles as Pupuke Kāhui Ako leaders and what we can still do to add value, but, at the same time, not clutter up people’s daily lives with just another email for them to consider, particularly given that there are so many organisations or colleagues or students already competing for their attention.

Many groups have the benefit of being able to access a wonderful range of resources through their subject associations and cluster groups providing rich learning opportunities to share. Our Within and Across School Leads will continue to be available remotely, to assist all staff in accessing and utilising relevant and meaningful online applications, resources and ideas.

The situation we have all been plunged into prompted me to think of the wicked problems that are often referred to in the literature around the Key Competencies, as seen below:

  • preparing students for a complex world, in which challenges have no simple solutions, by focusing on ‘wicked problems’ (Hipkins, Bolstad, Boyd, & McDowall, 2014, pp. 22-24)

The recent ERO review on the Key Competencies published in December 2019: The KCs – Realising the Potential resonates very strongly here. Here is the link to this document, which is well worth reading given the current moment, but also in light of the ever-increasing need to prepare our students for unknown and unanticipated challenges.

Clearly, we are in the middle of one of these wicked problems now; a challenge which has no simple or clear-cut solutions. This is self-evident in the various experts and commentators, across multiple fields, who are currently clamouring to proffer solutions; whether it be to follow what Australia is doing, or Sweden, or whatever else it might be that they have recently latched onto.

Every discipline can draw on examples that our students can relate to now, whether they be with regard to ethical or moral dilemmas often debated in the humanities, or containing rich scientific learning, or, indeed, opportunities for statistical analysis and real-life sampling, the relevance of Mathematical and Economic modelling, exponential growth and logarithmic scales. It will be fascinating to observe how the creative worlds of Art, Design, Music, Media and Literature reflect and reveal this new reality in the coming weeks, months and years. And, it will be vital for educators of all subjects, and at all levels, to capitalise on some of these richly teachable and learnable moments.

As you would expect, some of our plans for Pupuke Kāhui Ako events have had to change for this year. Please see further information on this below.

Julie Saikkonen – Lead Principal

Postponement of COLAB and the Musical Extravaganza

Regretfully, we have had to postpone two of our key community events planned for 2020. These were COLAB, our Pupuke-wide teachers-only professional development day, and the Musical Gala, our bi-annual musical extravaganza. These postponements, of course, are due to the ongoing global health pandemic with COVID-19 and the enforced need for continued social distancing measures across New Zealand. In terms of the postponement of these events, our plan is for COLAB to take place next year, in 2021, while we remain hopeful that the Musical Gala may still be able to run later in 2020. Obviously, any decisions made about the rescheduling of these events will be in direct response to the fluid and ongoing crisis that we all face.

We would like to thank all those who offered to run workshops for COLAB in 2020. We hope that you will be able to do so, at a similar time, in 2021.

WSL Meeting: Julie, ASLs and WSLs met on March 12 at Takapuna Primary. We had a brief update on progress made so far and goals set for this year. The WSLs were reminded of their roles and invited to collaborate on their inquiries, while having the opportunity to network and connect.


 ASL News: 

  • Student Action Team – planning, framework and resources for this are well underway. The ASL team realise that priorities for schools may now look very different so we will be seeking feedback from you on this. We have recently reworked sessions so that they can be delivered in individual schools removing the need for us to all meet together until much later in the year (when we hopefully can all reconnect in a physical sense). There is still immense value in student voice and action in our schools so we are hopeful that this will still go ahead – it might just look a little different!
  • Key Competencies – our unique, current situation highlights the importance of learner competencies that incorporate such qualities as flexibility, adaptability, resilience, organisation skills, critical thinking and communication skills. The newly developed Pupuke Kāhui Ako Competencies Resource, created by our own teachers, may act as a useful reference tool when planning lessons or discussing competencies with our learners. Many examples also relate strongly to wellbeing.
    Resources are based around:

Creativity   Resilience   Critical Thinking   Communication   Mindfulness   Growth Mindset   Meta-cognition   Ethics   Leadership   Courage   Curiosity   Collaboration
The Resource can be found here.

  • Transitions – developing coherent pathways and strengthening transitions from intermediate to high school through curriculum areas continued during Term One. WSL Jude Arbuthnot, from WBHS, has been integral in assisting TNIS in identifying both strengths and gaps in our Year 8 English programs. With her help, we have begun reciprocal observations and we look forward to continuing this important collaboration further. The work completed in 2019 around Mathematics pathways continues and collaboration with Wairau Intermediate, partially halted due to the current crisis, will recommence fully once we are back to more normal circumstances.
  • ECE Year 1 Hui – Over the course of Term One, we have continued to provide active support and opportunities for our ECE teachers to connect with our early year’s primary teachers. In early March, we held the Wellbeing in our Spaces hui at Takapuna Primary School, attended by ECE and Year 0 and 1 teachers from our Community of Learning. Several members of our Kāhui Ako presented at the hui, including Takapuna Learning Space, Kindercare and Takapuna Primary School. Takapuna Learning Space shared The Virtues Project, a global initiative which their ECE centre uses as a foundation philosophy to increase wellbeing and inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life. Kindercare shared the You Can Do It programme; an initiative they embed daily to increase student resilience, promote persistence and help learners to have more positive relationships. Takapuna Primary also presented what a day of learning looks like in their collaborative space, sharing with us their unique and innovative ideas for teaching through a play-based lens.
  • Connecting with whanau, iwi and community – In establishing authentic, sustainable connections with whanau, iwi and community, we continue to build strong relationships with various individuals and groups including the Te Raki Paewhenua Māori Committee, North Shore Library Research Centre and Te Reo Tuatahi. There have been weekly meetings with Raewyn Harrison (Te Reo Tuatahi) throughout the lockdown period via Zoom, to explore additional ways to support our schools with Te Reo and Tikanga Māori. We have also been working alongside Te Raki Paewhenua Māori Committee and the local council to address issues around the guardianship of Awataha Marae and returning it to the community. Looking ahead, planning is underway to provide some great ideas for Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori week which we hope will incorporate our wider community.
  • Podcast – over the past eighteen months, Pupuke Kāhui Ako has released a series of podcast interviews with a range of key voices in education from within and beyond our community. The most recent of these is an interview with Mark Masterton, who was Head of Art at WBHS for 21 years and recorded just a couple of days before his retirement at the end of 2019. This latest episode, and all previous episodes, are available now to listen to and download on our website here.

What is coming up for our Kāhui Ako:

Growth Coaching with The Education Group – the course due to start on April 28 has been postponed. The new dates are tentatively 27, 31 August and 14 September.



Denise Quinlan and her team have posted several short videos and podcasts on their NZIWR website as have a number of organisations. I am not sure whether teachers and parents may be able to pay attention to these at the moment given so many other demands on time but here’s a link to a short video that may be of use:

Greenlight Foundation website:

Webinar by Dr Natalie Flynn on wellbeing:

Resources and links

Pupuke Kahui Ako – Distance Learning
One of the roles of the Across School Leads is to facilitate the collaboration and sharing of the ‘gems’. To further support, and to inspire one another at this time ( and maybe also helping to minimise ‘reinvention of the wheel’) we have set up a folder for teachers to share the distance learning they are providing their students. Please direct your teachers to this folder Pupuke Distance Learning and encourage them to share their Distance Learning gems.

Corwin Press are scheduling some great conversations, including a recording of the one with John Hattie, found here.

Key points from Prof John Hattie:
1. Do not provide a lot of busy work, rather focus on shorter coverage and going deeper.
2. Consolidate prior learning.
3. Practice Self Compassion.
4. He commended the teachers and how hard they work. John suggested that teachers must focus on what things were working well for them and their students with online learning and hold on to them when they return back to school.
5. Blog post by Prof John Hattie: Visible Learning Effect Sizes When Schools Are Closed: What Matters and What Does Not

Webinar by Harry Fletcher-Wood: Supporting Student motivation and engagement when learning online

To register for The Education Hub Webinars go to: