Whangarei Boys’ High rebuild announced

Whangarei Boys’ High will undergo a rebuild that’s expected to be completed in 2022.

In one of the largest-ever building projects at a New Zealand school, Whangarei Boys’ High School will undergo a makeover as part of an ongoing upgrade to education facilities in Northland.

There’s excitement in the air at what’s ahead. School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith says better buildings will inspire the students.

“People think boys don’t notice their surroundings and don’t care, but I think they do. They don’t complain but they note it.

“However, there’s fantastic camaraderie amongst the boys. It’s a big part of the culture. They talk about the “brotherhood”, and support from their mates, as being so important for them, so the state of their school buildings seems the least of their worries.

“They will definitely notice when everything is transformed. It will be inspirational and hopefully give them a love of learning in a modern environment – a huge leap forward, not just for the school, but for Northland too. We have to make sure this is a place that the boys want to come to. Continuing to focus on attendance means that we will make gains in achievement.”

There are 1,100 students at Whangarei Boys, which opened 136 years ago, and the roll is growing.  

The achievement rate has been increasing year on year and is outstanding in some areas including sport and the arts. There remains a strong focus on progress to university level study and in 2016, students won university scholarships totalling over $300,000.

Tech, science and physical education are huge, Karen says, and trades training is a popular choice for boys, some of whom board because their families live long distances away.

The upgrade is likely to include new food technology teaching facilities.  When the students were asked what they wanted to see included in the rebuild, the top choice was a food technology block.

Head Boy Lance Baker says, “Lots of us want to learn cooking and the skills to get jobs in hospitality or tourism. That’s where the opportunities are.”

Karen says their enthusiasm is no mystery. “Boys love their food – and anything to do with it. Food technology has not been part of the traditional curriculum pathways historically offered here, so we are at an exciting juncture in terms of our evolving curriculum”

The school also provides horticultural and primary industries training as part of its trades training, and the upgrade is likely to help expand that option, although no final decision in this regard has yet been made.  

Connecting-up is the key goal. Karen says, “Our potential aim is for our horticultural students to grow food, which our cooking and hospitality students can cook and serve up as part of their training.

”It will be fantastic once we rebuild with state-of-the art facilities to support modern learning.

“Our boys are going to get a 21st century environment that supports them to achieve their potential”.

Exactly what the new facilities will include is yet to be determined and the Government will assess the suitability of using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the redevelopment.

The upgrade is part of a comprehensive programme of investment in the Northland region to raise educational achievement with school infrastructure that supports a full range of 21st century teaching and learning practices.

A number of major Ministry of Education-led projects are underway across the region. Recently, Northland College in Kaikohe opened its brand new school facilities after a complete rebuild.

The work on the Whangarei Boys’ High School project, which will cost more than $50 million, is likely to start in 2019 and be completed in 2022.

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