Westlake Boys High School

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The Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning
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Supporting the Growth and Development of Excellent Teachers

Here at Westlake Boys High School, teaching and learning is at the centre of all we do. We strongly believe that if we support our teachers to be the best they can be in the classroom, our students will grow to be the best they can be too. 

The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was established in 2019 to be at the core of our support and professional development for our teachers, whether they are new to the profession or have decades of experience. We value an attitude of continuous improvement and strive to be the best we can be, putting boys' education at the forefront of what we do.

Our philosophy and values are underpinned by research and evidence-based practice. In doing so, the centre continues to make connections with other schools within New Zealand and internationally. In an ever-changing educational landscape, it is important to be at front of the charge in innovation and adaption of ideas and pedagogy in our own unique context of Westlake Boys High School. 

If you would like to know more about what we do or collaborate with us, feel free to contact us by email below. 

Casey de Wit

Casey began her career as an English and Media Studies teacher in Auckland in 2015. In her career she has held the role of course leader and Head of Department for Media Studies. She is currently Teacher in Charge of Professional Development and Leader of AI Innovation. As a Leader of Learning in the Centre for Excellence, her current work will find her running and coordinating professional development for staff, professional development for the school Prefects, Bite Size professional development, Provisional Teacher mentoring and Artificial Intelligence planning and implementation. 

Kelly Easton

Kelly is one of the Leaders of Learning in the CfE and has been teaching in New Zealand since 2006, after emigrating from the UK where her early Teaching career began. She has had a variety of roles in her career, such as a Pastoral Dean, Head of Department and most recently is Specialist Classroom Teacher, with a focus on improving Teaching and Learning at our school. She is passionate about improving student outcomes and fostering the development of new Teachers to the profession and inspiring potential Middle Leaders. Presently Kelly is mentoring new and experienced Teachers at Westlake, supporting them with reflection and professional dialogue to improve classroom management, culture and cognitive load.

Jude Arbuthnot

Jude began her career as an English and Media Studies teacher in the UK in 2001, moving to New Zealand and Westlake in 2006. She is currently teacher in charge of Media Studies Scholarship and has a Within School Leader role for the Pupuke Kahui Ako. In her career she has held the roles of Head of House and Assistant Head of Faculty. She has completed Action Research for the International Boys School Coalition into collaborative writing. As a Leader of Learning in the Centre for Excellence, her work focuses on literacy, mentoring of Provisionally Certified Teachers and supporting and training Middle Leaders.

Our Current Programmes

Aspiring Middle Leadership Programme

The Aspiring Middle Leadership Programme takes place in Terms 1 and 2. It is intended for anyone who has an interest in developing their middle-leadership potential at a pastoral or academic level. The programme has a personalised leadership inquiry-based style, over a period of six months. With a combined approach of educational research, reflection, and discussion forums each term, our intent is that the group will conclude their key findings of their inquiry focus with a presentation at the end of the programme.

Topics covered in the programme include: self-awareness, leadership styles, team building, open to learning conversations, growth coaching, mentoring and supporting staff.

Provisionally Certified Teacher Programme

The PCT programme runs weekly every Tuesday morning before school for all first- and second-year teachers. Aligning with the professional teaching standards, the sessions provide our PCTs with extra support with a clear focus on the Westlake context. There are a variety of staff presenters, but the programme is organising and overseen by Joe Cachopa, Kelly Easton, Jude Arbuthnot and Casey de Wit. 

Topics covered in the programme include: knowing your learners, teaching standards, digital technology, behaviour management strategies, boys’ education, supporting students emotionally, pastoral care, report writing, supporting international students, pedagogical approaches.

Group mentoring of Provisionally Certified Teachers

WBHS use a group mentoring approach for our teachers new to the profession. Once a week, teachers meet in the Centre in a small group of 2 or 3 with their Mentor. The philosophy behind this approach is a wraparound support system from an experienced teacher mentor and other beginning teachers. Time is dedicated in the timetable to this programme, and it has been a huge success in developing the capabilities and confidence of our PCTs.  Mentoring is facilitated by Jude Arbuthnot, Kelly Easton, Casey de Wit and Joe Cachopa.

Whole Staff Professional Development

In 2023 we have timetabled two full staff Professional Development sessions a term. Two Thursdays a term the students begin their school day later so that staff have dedicated time to focus on their professional learning. The whole staff PD is coordinated by Casey de Wit and runs with four strands throughout the year. These strands link to our school strategic intent. This year, they are: Mixed Ability Teaching and Learning, Bi-Culturalism, NCEA changes and Faculty goals. Each session has a clear focus, allows for discussion with colleagues and gives staff practical ideas that they can implement in the classroom immediately. 

Bite-size Professional Development

Bite-size PD has been well attended in 2023. The popular, short, and voluntary drop-in sessions run after and before school in The Centre for Excellence. The sessions are run by staff for staff and often have a practical implementation. Casey de Wit co-ordinates these sessions which are run by staff who often have a passion for a specific area of pedagogy or who may have recently been on a PD course outside of Westlake and want to share their experiences and ideas. Sessions this year have been: Te Reo Pronunciation, Excel, Classroomscreen, AI Prompt engineering and toolkit, Microsoft To Do, Junior Behaviour Management, Chinese name Pronunciation and many more. 

Action Research

Prior to 2020, the centre embarked on an Action Research programme for staff. Closely following the programme run by the International Boys School Coalition, a small group of staff began their research with their students with the Leaders of Learning in the centre mentoring them through the process. Unfortunately, lockdowns and subsequent events did affect the competition of these projects. Charlie Meredith and Lucy Anderson did however manage to complete their Action Research and their findings can be found here.

In term 3 of 2022, we will be relaunching the WBHS Action Research scheme and will be looking for interested staff to begin new projects. Conor Pearson and Andrea Dawber are currently undertaking Action Research with the IBSC and will be presenting their findings at the IBSC conference in 2023. Jude Arbuthnot is currently mentoring them through this process. 

As future staff complete Action Research we will share their findings here.

Growth Coaching

We now have a significant proportion of staff who have been trained as Growth Coaches. In previous years, these staff have supported our Aspiring Middle Leaders on their leadership journeys. We will continue to offer the opportunity to participate in Growth Coaching Professional Development to our staff. Also, any member of staff who would like to work through the process of growth coaching, can now directly approach one of our trained Coaches.  We hope that the initiative will further support our teachers professionally.

Prefect Development

This year Casey de Wit has continued to work with the prefects of 2023 to develop their leadership skills and potential as leaders. There is a continual need to develop our students as well as our staff and that their growth, as leaders is just as important as our staff's.

The PD for Prefects is aimed at developing their leadership journey, looking at how they can accomplish the goals they set, having a strong connection with the junior school and hearing from leaders outside of a school context, so that they can leave with the honour of making an impact on our school.

Book Club

At the start of 2022 a Book Club of 55 staff members was established. The book club is centered around texts that contribute to the professional growth of educators, covering topics like pedagogical techniques, educational theories, classroom management, and subject-specific advancements, specifically for boys.

Our Book Club includes staff members from various departments who participate in a rich discussion post reading. Our meetings foster a collaborative environment where diverse perspectives are shared. The cross curricular of ideas can lead to innovative teaching approaches and a unified educational philosophy within the school. Texts that we have read so far are: Better Boys, Better Men by Andrew Reiner, Tools for Teacher by Oliver Lovell, Boys don't Try? By Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts and Boys do Cry by Matt Pinkett.