Eketahuna School principal Nick Beamsley with pupils in 2010. PHOTO/FILE

CHELSEA BOYLE

[email protected]

The retirement of principal Nick Beamsley ends his reign of nine years at the helm of Eketahuna School.

It was not without its challenges as Mr Beamsley found a lack of funding from the previous National Government and using National Standards frustrating.

Mr Beamsley said he had known he wanted to be a teacher since he was about eight years old.

His career was in full swing in the 1990s when a lot of country schools were closing.

When he arrived at Eketahuna School in 2009 he was set on turning it around.

“I had a vision for the school, I wanted it to be the best it could be,” he said.

“I had a few pet projects and one of them was the school swimming pool.

“When I arrived, the pool was just a concrete block that hadn’t been used for 15 or 16 years.

“I don’t even know if it ever got used  because it was still concrete – nobody had painted it.”

The Eketahuna School Home and School Association put more than $20,000 into bringing the pool up to speed.

Mr Beamsley said the most challenging part of being a principal was the lack of funding allocated to schools by the National Government, especially for children with special needs.

“I think for most principals and teachers, it’s been hard work,” Mr Beamsley said.

“There has been a lack of funding for children with special needs.

“You can’t run a decent classroom if you have a kid running amuck and they get nothing out of it either.”

He was also “dead against National Standards”.

Classifying kids, especially by year- group as opposed to age- group, was awful, he said.

“The boxes that they had for National Standards were too wide,” he said.

“So sometimes kids would never progress out of the ‘below’ or ‘well below’ because you know, we can’t all be brain surgeons, but they had made tremendous progress within it.”

As far as the government was concerned they were still ‘below’.

“The worst thing about it was, we were reporting to government and we were including our special needs children in this, which to me is absolutely wrong, totally wrong.”

But what kept him “fighting those battles” was a sheer passion for the job.

“I’ve always been in it for the kids,” he said.

“The kids were always my first priority.”

During his tenure as principal house teams and assemblies were re-introduced with ‘it’s in the bag’ prizes for good behaviour.

“I’d like to think we changed the culture of the school to something more positive,” he said.

“I’m pleased to say, I think, I have left the place in better shape than when I found it.”

Mr Beamsley had chosen to take an early retirement, partly because he needed a hip replacement and partly because it felt like the right timing for the school.

“The school needed something else and it probably needed more of a focus on the curriculum than I could give.

“It just needed new ideas.”