Tags:Case StudiesPrimary SchoolSLPP

5 min read

Students at the centre: The story of St Teresa's

One of the core elements of Springboard Trust’s work with principals is making sure everyone is heard. 

From stakeholder engagement to distributed leadership, empowering everyone in a school environment to influence and lead on their own terms is key to positively impacting student outcomes. 

For Suzi De Gouveia, principal at St Teresa’s School in Riccarton, this shone through in the most remarkable of ways.  

The value of visibility 

St Teresa’s is a Catholic school at its heart – but as Suzi explains, it is also much more.  

“You walk in, and you see we’re a Catholic school – that’s very visible. But we’re also an incredibly diverse school, with 19 different cultures represented in our students.” 

“The Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme massively helped me see this as a focal point. It helped me wade through the data, find our priorities – and one of the biggest was cultural responsiveness.” 

This has since become a key goal for Suzi and her team, with four projects underway to achieve it. 

“We want to make sure that everyone can walk into St Teresa’s and see themselves represented – that they can feel welcome no matter who they are.” 

Working with students and their families, an incredible amount of work is going on. Students and their parents are creating patterns from every culture in the school to be put on display. One parent is creating three Māori carvings to sit at the school, representing faith, hope and love. A central display in the foyer has contributions from the community, including a handmade Ethiopian handbag that a parent’s relative wore to their wedding.  

On top of this, Suzi herself will embody the breadth of diversity at St Teresa’s through a custom-made outfit.  

“Once it’s done, it will have something from everyone. South African beadwork, student art – some of my Tongan students have reserved some space on the back, because they want to put their strength behind me.” 

Upon completion of this work, Suzi is certain that everybody will feel welcome – a perfect partnership of the school’s Catholic values and utter conviction of their strength in diversity.  

“This focus – it all came through the programme. My Capacity Partner [Elaine] was sensational at challenging my thinking, having me step outside my comfort zone and really wade through the mud of data to work out what mattered most in the student voice.” 

We want to make sure that everyone can walk into St Teresa’s and see themselves represented
Suzi De Gouveia

Amplifying voices through the whole school 

The centering of voices outside the leadership team has shone through in other ways too, creating change at St Teresa’s that is extraordinarily exciting.  

The programme helped me understand stakeholders far better than I did before,” Suzi notes.  

“You always think of the students and parents, but a big one for me was the parish, how they could be more involved in the school. Businesses in the community, local specialists, everyone.” 

“We have a totally play-based curriculum, which means we need all the help we can get. The improvements I made in stakeholder work go a long way with that.” 

This expansion of their support network also happened internally, with the introduction of a Board of Students. 

“They run along the lines of the Board of Trustees – they have a budget, organise sports equipment, and report to the BoT – it's full student ownership, and it came directly out of hearing their voice.” 

And while St Teresa’s currently has extremely dedicated teachers and leaders, Suzi hopes to get the Board of Students involved in future hiring decisions too.  

Schools often have more information and data than they know what to do with – it is no exaggeration that Suzi, on several occasions, referred to analysing this information as “wading through the mud”.  

But through the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme and the invaluable insight from outside the education sector, she was able to clarify, prioritise and act in a way that best serves the students.  

The results, as you can see, are astonishing – and the work isn’t done yet.  

New horizons at St Teresa’s  

After every SLPP workshop, Suzi would check in with her leadership team, telling them what she had learned.  

“I went to-and-fro, talking with my team, with Elaine, with the team again, getting them involved in every step of my planning. I gave them full ownership of what we would do in the year ahead, and it’s meant our strongest year ever as a team.” 

“They see how excited I get about every new thing I learn – which meant our decision to do HPLT [High Performing Leadership Teams] later this year was a simple one.” 

“The response is along the lines of 'oh my, we get to do this too!’”  

Through the work that Suzi has done with her Capacity Partner Elaine and Springboard Trust, through the spreading of leadership and amplification of voices that often aren’t in a school’s strategic planning, St Teresa’s had made huge positive change.  

And as Suzi concludes, that’s down to the power of teamwork. 

“The programme, Elaine, the facilitators – the support you get [in SLPP] is outstanding. Everyone is so excited by and invested in what we do. They get to know your school inside out and are so committed to helping us make out school the best it can be.” 

“I’m so, so grateful. The best PLD I’ve ever done – and with 15 years at St Teresa’s, I’ve done a lot!”   

Helping you lead through change with confidence and clarity.

Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals (SLRTP)

Rural teaching principals face challenges that their metropolitan counterparts often do not.   Working as both teacher and principal, these leaders also have numerous other roles within their school. On top of this, in a rural context school leadership extends far into the community – to the extent that they are ‘always on’.   Finally, there are often significant hurdles for rural teaching principals in terms of accessing development opportunities, and finding relief teaching when those opportunities arise.   With some 20% of the country’s principals in this situation, Springboard Trust is thrilled to offer a unique, fully-funded programme designed with them in mind.  Tailored development for rural teaching principals  The Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals Programme (SLRTP) is the first of its kind in New Zealand. Combining elements of our Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) and our High Performing Leaders programme, we developed this course in recognition of those rural-specific challenges that principals face.   SLRTP includes:  Three 2-day residential block courses and one final full day course  Interactive webinars from our Subject Matter Experts  Regular online cohort meetings  A 360° leadership review  One-on-one meetings with Impact Coaches  Debriefing sessions with Programme Managers  Self-paced learning and ancillary resources   Cohort engagement through our Canvas LMS  Taken over the course of a calendar year, principals will pair with Impact Coaches – volunteers from our network of experts – and learn the fundamentals of strategic leadership, with a unique focus on rural teaching principal roles.   They will work together through our new blended learning model, combining the best of both virtual and in-person learning environments.   As with our other programmes, the relationship with your volunteer forms the cornerstone of your learning. A high-trust relationship forms, and helps you develop your skills as a leader within the parameters of the programme.   For principals, it is a fully funded leadership development course – a benefit made possible by our partners in the Elaine Gurr Endowment Trust, from Perpetual Guardian. Who can apply for SLRTP?   SLRTP is open to all principals who have not completed our previous programmes, and who fit the following criteria:   Work in schools with fewer than 100 students Teach in classrooms on a regular basis  Live in communities a significant distance from the nearest major urban area   Applications for SLRTP typically open in Term 3 of the year before the course begins. To get in touch about taking part in this course, please contact one of our team.   For volunteers interested in becoming an Impact Coach, please contact our Volunteer Manager, Rebecca Brown.  

COVID-19: Leading Through A Crisis

Springboard Trust is committed to helping principals and their schools through the extraordinary environment we now find ourselves in. As part of this, we have developed Leading Through A Crisis - a series of webinars and resources to give principals the tools, frameworks and skills they need to lead during times of change. How Leading Through A Crisis helps principals Over the coming weeks, Springboard will publish a series of videos and helpful resources - freely available from this page - to help leaders guide their communities through a crisis.   This begins with a webinar from our Board Chair Ian Narev (Seek, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, McKinsey), introducing our series and speaking on: You as a leader. Understanding your team well – at the moral and human level. Your plan – the importance of understanding what you control and what you don’t. Following this will be a series of bite-size interviews, learning modules and tools on leading self, leading the school and leading others. This includes:   What you bring as a leader Māori perspectives on leadership Communication and decision-making Developing a crisis plan Organizational culture and identifying values Distributed leadership  These topics have been developed out of focus groups with principals who have worked with Springboard before, and mapped to conceptual frameworks by the University of Auckland’s Professor Carol Mutch and Columbia University’s Professor Paul Ingram.   Who is Leading Through A Crisis for? These modules are designed to be useful primarily for New Zealand principals, but the learning included will be applicable to anyone involved in educational leadership.   For more information on our Leading Through A Crisis resources, or to request assistance on a specific topic, please contact your Programme Manager.  

COVID-19 Distance Learning Support for Principals

Distance learning is here, and it may be here for the long-term.   The challenge for school leaders is now finding what works well for their school community, how to build confidence in the use of distance learning methods, and what can be sustained in the long-term.  Springboard and our expert partners are providing support to schools under Ministry of Education’s guidelines, leading and implementing the transition from classroom to a remote and blended environment where every student, teacher, parent and caregiver will have a different role to play.  How Springboard Trust can help with distance learning  Under our School Innovation Services banner, and in our role as an accredited PLD provider with the Ministry of Education, Springboard can support you and your school to create a sustainable distance learning model that brings together your people, all relevant technology and best-practice leadership.    Currently, we have developed custom support under the following themes:   Leadership in a time of change (lifting capability, critical decision-making)  Leading towards distance learning Implementing distance learning (“getting it done”, including distance teaching practices)  Engaging stakeholders  Building resilience  Coaching for school leaders  If you, your school or your community need assistance with making distance learning a seamless experience for everyone involved, please get in touch with your Programme Manager or fill out our contact form.    Who can access Springboard’s distance learning support – and how  Our support comes in addition to the COVID-19 PLD Distance Learning Support package from the MoE, and is open to all schools who need it – not just Springboard alumni. To access our support, you can either reallocate approved PLD hours you have with Springboard Trust or request our support directly from the Ministry of Education.   To access Ministry of Education guidance, FAQs and contact details on Distance Learning PLD, head this way!

COVID-19: Resilience

Right now, there is nothing more important than resilience and wellbeing. While already a focus for many principals who have worked with Springboard Trust, we would like to provide more support in this area to help all New Zealand school leaders through the COVID-19 pandemic.   Our goal is to support principals to build and maintain resilience within themselves, so they can support others to do the same.   How Springboard Trust can help principals with resilience  We understand the time constraints and information overload that principals go through at the best of times – let alone during a pandemic.   That is why, rather than provide a comprehensive programme, we are offering a kete of wellbeing-focused resources that principals can use at their leisure. We will be releasing multiple items a week, focused on topics that respond directly to priorities principals have highlighted.   This will include:  Video content  Models of wellbeing   Presentations, seminars and conferences  Interviews and advice   These videos, toolkits and articles will give you a regularly updated set of tools to build and share resilience.  We will be calling upon our network of experts to provide insight, learning and perspective on resilience, helping principals keep a strategic approach to their own wellbeing, and improving that of their community.   Who can access our resilience resources – and how   We will publish all resilience resources either on this page or in our news section, keeping everyone updated on the latest we have to offer.   These resources are free to use for everyone who needs them, principals, volunteers, partners and the general public alike.   Resources for resilience:

Recalibrate Your Strategy Workshop

Get your plan back on track Every principal who has worked with Springboard Trust has developed a three-year outlook and a strategic plan for their school.   But in the wake of COVID-19, so much has changed. You might have new priorities, and new initiatives that you want to introduce that mean your original plan may suddenly seem out of date..   Recalibrate Your Strategy (RYS) is a new Springboard Trust workshop designed to help school leaders reconnect, share ideas and rework their strategic plan to better suit the current environment. It gives you perspective, clarity and the tools for a roadmap for the months and years ahead.   How does Recalibrate Your Strategy work?   In the two-hour online RYS workshops, principals will:   Assess how the current situation will impact your strategy  Consider and review your goals and initiatives  Identify priorities for the short- and medium-term  Identify key stakeholders and their engagement needs  Consider the conditions needed to lead these changes   Essentially, RYS acts as a reset – a space for you to take stock, look at what’s important to you now and start working on a plan to make that happen.   Who is Recalibrate your Strategy for? Recalibrate Your Strategy is open to all principals who have completed a strategic plan with Springboard Trust before.   It is a workshop conducted online, will require two hours of your time and requires your existing tools like roadmaps and your stakeholder, annual and strategic plans.   To enquire about attending a Recalibrate Your Strategy workshop, please get in touch with your Programme Manager. 

Our Partners