Kea Crossing IMG1389 IMG9913 IMG7815 Wakefield School from Lookout 3 IMG4764 Picture from Waimea Weekly



This Friday we farewell Sue McLaren, our long-serving deputy principal, new entrant teacher and special needs coordinator.  These are only her official titles; we can add a hundred other small and large roles that Sue has filled during her 29 years at Wakefield School and 43 years as a teacher: she’s a tireless advocate for children with special learning needs and their families; a confidant and trusted friend to staff; a role model, guide and mentor to beginning teachers; a fearless and open-minded adopter of innovative ideas and techniques; a provider of amazing morning teas; a worker for our community; a strong voice for our profession; a wiper-of-noses, mender-of-scratches, comforter-of-tears and celebrator-of-successes; a patient, earnest, unfailingly cheerful encourager of every five year old who creeps, trembling, into their first day of school.  I could go on, but enough to say Sue will be missed. We wish you well in your retirement and thank you for all you have done for our children. 




We welcome Leanne Hough as our new deputy principal, new entrant teacher and special needs coordinator.  Leanne joins us from Mapua School where she is currently the new entrant team leader and assistant principal, and we are excited that she is bringing her skills, experience and personality to our children, families and staff.  Leanne will take over our existing new entrant group from the start of term two, working alongside Anna Doblanovic.  


We also welcome Jess O’Connor and Tracy Goddard who will team-teach our second new entrant class beginning early in term two.  Jess and Tracy are both highly experienced new entrant teachers with strong local links (Tracy has worked at Wakefield previously and Jess’s nephews are at school here).   


A further welcome to Matt Walker, a new parent representative on the board of trustees.  Matt’s daughter, Elsie, is in year 2. Matt has been co-opted to the board to give us some added capacity as we move towards elections in 2019.  The current board is: 


Alastair Kennard    Chairperson 

Sonia Emerson      Treasurer 

Nathan Taylor 

Sarah Ching 

Joanne Ladley 

Matt Walker 

Peter Verstappen    Principal 


I wish you a very happy and restful school holidays.  Term two begins on Monday 30 April. 



Peter Verstappen 





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Here’s What We Mean by ‘Student-Led Learning’


Jordan, who is six years old, was recently appointed to our Student Council as a representative of Matai Kereru team.  Last week our Council meeting clashed with scooter training for Jordan.  He came to the office to tell me but I was out, so what did Jordan do?  He wrote me this letter:



To mistir vstn

Sore I cant go to the

Shooht cousool

Becose I

Got scooti

Chraning at



from Jordan.


I love this letter, for two reasons.  First, it is a beautiful expression of a child learning to write; look at how he has made sense of the words ‘student council’, you can hear Jordan picking out the sounds in his mind. 


Second, it is a beautiful expression of student-led learning.  You might ask, ‘what’s he learning?’ but consider this.  Here’s Jordan, 6, as a thinker: he knows he has an obligation to the Student Council, he sees he cannot fulfil it, he comes to tell me, that doesn’t work, he decides he needs to write to me so he creates this letter and brings it to the office.  This is even more impressive because Jordan doesn’t know much about the Student Council yet, he’s only attended one meeting, but he knows he has some sort of obligation to it.  Here’s Jordan as a communicator: if he can’t tell me in person, he’ll slave over this letter to get the message to me.  Here’s Jordan as a planner: he’s thinking ahead and balancing his commitments.  Okay, Jordan will have had some prompts from his teacher, but he’s taken up the challenge and look at what he’s achieved. 


I value the opportunities children have to be leaders at school through the Student Council, committees, monitors and other roles.  Their work in these roles contributes to the smooth running of the school, but as well as leading others they provide real occasions for children to lead themselves, to become masters of their own learning.  And that’s what a democratic curriculum looks like.


Have a good week,




Peter Verstappen