Prin­ci­pal leaves long­time post

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN WIL­LIAMS

‘‘School has got to be fun.’’

Fer­gus­son In­ter­me­di­ate prin­ci­pal Paul Pat­ter­son will, at the end of this school term, make a fi­nal exit from a place of learn­ing he first came to know as a 10-year-old.

With 13 years as prin­ci­pal and an­other 14 in the class­room, in­clud­ing a first pro­fes­sional place­ment, Pat­ter­son has had an un­par­al­leled reign at the Tren­tham school which to­day ed­u­cates more than 400 Year 7 and 8 stu­dents.

Af­ter col­lege years at Here­taunga, Pat­ter­son found him­self off to Teach­ers Train­ing Col­lege af­ter also con­sid­er­ing jour­nal­ism and law.

‘‘There were a few of us who ap­plied, I was ac­cepted and away I went. I wasn’t overly en­thu­si­as­tic about it ... then.

‘‘But I im­me­di­ately loved it, es­pe­cially the time I was out in the schools. The first post­ing was at the now long gone Brent­wood school,’’ the Sil­ver­stream res­i­dent said.

‘‘Then in my sec­ond year I got a post­ing here and I fell in love with the [in­ter­me­di­ate] age group.

‘‘At that age they are de­vel­op­ing their own opin­ions and thoughts. They’re open, they’re ex­cited and they are funny. At this age they have a fan­tas­tic sense of hu­mour.’’

In­ter­me­di­ates pro­vide stu­dents ‘‘with a fan­tas­tic range of op­por­tu­ni­ties’’, he said.

‘‘The rea­son I love in­ter­me­di­ates is be­cause you have a school where ev­ery­thing is pitched at the age-group, the re­sourc­ing is not di­vided across eight years but is fo­cused solely on the two years they are here.’’

Pat­ter­son came back to Fer­gus­son, for a fi­nal time, in 2004 af­ter sev­eral years as deputy at Raroa In­ter­me­di­ate in John­sonville.

‘‘I was de­ter­mined the only school I wanted to be a prin­ci­pal of was an in­ter­me­di­ate and when Fer­gus­son came up the temp­ta­tion was too great.’’

Look­ing to sum up his pro­fes­sional lead­er­ship Pat­ter­son said it would, cliche per­mit­ting, prob­a­bly be ‘‘firm but fair’’ - with a tinge of fun.

‘‘School has got to be fun. It’s not party time but you want kids to be en­gaged in learn­ing, it’s got to be a place they en­joy com­ing to.’’

That ap­proach is up against school­ing to­day where the so­cial is­sues chil­dren are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing are on the in­crease.

‘‘They’ve al­ways been there but they are more preva­lent. There’s al­ways [been] kids that have come from homes where they have not had the op­por­tu­ni­ties that some of their peers may have had, for what­ever rea­son.’’

Pat­ter­son holds strong views on ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy and his Fer­gus­son years have been in­flu­enced, if not com­pro­mised, by the Gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial in­tro­duc­tion of Na­tional Stan­dards in 2010.

‘‘I ac­knowl­edge I was against their in­tro­duc­tion from day one but fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion, for me, of what is wrong is when par­ents look­ing to en­rol their child sit in my of­fice and they say that their child is well be­low the na­tional stan­dards. Well, that’s what par­ents are be­ing told, of course.

‘‘The first ques­tion I ask of the child is ‘what are you good at?’

‘‘And they beam when they tell me that they are re­ally good at art, or danc­ing or foot­ball or what­ever. Ed­u­ca­tion has to be holis­tic,’’ he said.

‘‘I think more and more peo­ple are wak­ing up to the farce of Na­tional Stan­dards.

‘‘They are not na­tional and they are not stan­dard.’’

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