Principal leaves longtime post
‘‘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.’’