The recent Powhiri held at Papakura High School to welcome its new principal Simon Craggs was both moving and a reflection on the proud and passionate nature of every pupil, staff member and school community member associated with Papakura High.
Something that Simon felt keenly when he accepted the challenge of becoming the new leader.
He brings with him a wealth of education experience and knowledge most recently as the Principal of Onewhero Area school. He led through a period of development at the school including a focus on raising of achievement rates of its Maori learners. Developing extensive links with the local school community, the wider education community and forging strong links with mana whenua. Something he intends to foster at Papakura High.
“Onewhero is of course an area school so teaches from Year 1 through to year 13, whereas Papakura is strictly a secondary school. Concentrating on the last five years of our students learning means it is even more important to give our students every opportunity to maximise their education and bring out their potential. Involving everyone on that journey hopefully means that everyone will come to realise that everyone can achieve whatever they desire.”
Papakura High School was established in 1954 and is built on the mana whenua of Ngāti Tamaoho. It caters for over 900 students who come from a diverse multi-cultural background, many students affiliating to a wide range of iwi backgrounds as well as to the mana whenua of the local area, the sub-tribes of Waikato-Tainui. The school also has a large Pasifika community, mainly Samoan and Tongan, but also with Cook Island and Fijian Indian communities, and small numbers of other Pacific Island groups. The remainder are of European/Pakeha heritage.
“Our school is well known for its rich cultural representation. Our most recent Education Review Office, (ERO) highlighted that we are a student-centred, culturally responsive and inclusive school culture, which for me is vitally important. Our young people need to feel included no matter where they come from or identify as, as educators, it is our job to make sure this is woven through their education.”
Simon acknowledges his predecessor John Rohs as being instrumental in the direction the school is headed, one that he intends to continue.
“John was responsible for a great number of improvements while he was principal. The school has made huge advancements in all areas of student achievement. The physical environment has improved, our NCEA achievement results, and I know that to further improve it will be a team effort. It will involve everyone in the school, the board of trustees and community to take it from where it is to further improve the expectations, standards and achievements to create those pathways for students when they leave. And I know I have a great team to continue to make these improvements.”
One of the areas Simon is passionate about is the dynamic curriculum available to all its students. There is a wide range of educational, cultural, sporting and social opportunities and he sees this is a way to engage member of the school who might not otherwise by engaged by perhaps a more traditional method of learning and teaching.
“Our core pedagogy is based on a model of ‘Learn, Create, Share’ with an expectation of students learning in the 21st Century. Many classes regularly utilise ICT as one of their teaching tools as we recognise the importance of being technologically skilled. But we also offer courses based around career choices such as Police and Armed forces. Students are well supported with wellbeing services and our engagement with whanau is something we continue to work on. One thing this past year has taught us is that we need to be ready to adapt quickly to an ever-changing landscape.”
With a mini lockdown already creating an unnecessary interference with this years school calendar, that is one thing that everyone at the school can count on, this year will be a time to adapt to some degree of change and if Simon has anything to do with it, it will continue the positives that the school has enjoyed.