A commitment to equity and making a difference
The shared values of teachers and principals form the backbone of the Secondary Principals Council, says new chair Kate Gainsford.
Kate will be a familiar face to many in PPTA Te Wehengarua from her stint as president from 2009 to 2011 and as senior vice president following that.
Born and bred in Rotorua, Kate attended Rotorua Girls' High School. She has been deputy principal of Porirua College and Wellington East Girls' College and is now in her tenth year as principal of Aotea College; a co-educational, state secondary school for years 9-13 in Porirua. Kate is also the women's principal representative on SPC.
It was that position on the council that encouraged her to run for chair. "I enjoy the collegial atmosphere and collaborative problem-solving approach we have on the council," she said.
Shared values form strong foundations
Kate is excited about taking up the new role. "It is a privilege to take on the mantel of chairperson for the Secondary Principals' Council of Aotearoa. James Morris has left big shoes to fill, and I acknowledge and thank him for his time and energy as our chair, in particular during the challenges of the pandemic last year," she said.
The shared values of teachers and principals form the backbone of SPC, Kate says. "PPTA is the organisation that has always had the most detailed understanding of how secondary education actually works in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Teachers and principals alike, share a commitment to equity and making a difference. It's these shared values that form the strongest foundation for the work of principals in schools.
"The unique collegial relationships of SPC in PPTA serve all members well. With most secondary education professionals belonging to PPTA, we retain a deep knowledge base and wide understanding of how things work and how things can work better – for everyone," she said.
Significant investment required
Kate sees change management as one of the biggest issues facing principals at the moment. "From the immediate agile responses required to deal with a pandemic, through to the longer-term impacts. This will happen in the context of the continuous improvement process for the New Zealand Curriculum and Marautanga refresh, the NCEA change package and the establishment of the Education Services Agency."
"Sitting behind this is a mounting pressure on emerging, but inadequate, learning support and mental health and wellbeing provision for young people. This requires significant investment, a greater sense of urgency and better ways of working across government to serve young people, families and communities, with something better than waiting lists and severely rationed services," she said.
"Being able to count on the moral and ethical compass and the support of the infrastructure of the PPTA, means we are well-positioned to traverse the territory ahead of us."
Watch this space for new projects
Kate is looking forward to working closely with principals and PPTA Te Wehengarua members and representatives across the union, to cut through and achieve improvement in areas that make the most difference in wellbeing and equity.
"SPC and PPTA are working together to develop a number of new projects to support principals and senior leaders in their work and I am looking forward to sharing more details throughout 2021," she said.