Ben witheford | Principal

Ben Witheford | Principal

Ben Witheford | Principal

I am hugely excited about my role at Shotover Primary School. The opportunity to be part of a brand new school even before the foundation was laid, a single enrolment taken and staff members employed, is a once-in-a-career chance.

Our collective goal is to create a stunning learning community for all those connected with it, but most importantly for the children. We work hard to create a place that they enjoy being at and being part of, and a place that encourages and aspires to create success for all.

We are highly inspired by a number of thinkers and experts here at Shotover. Our ultimate vision to Create a Climate of Possibilities… was conceived and written on the back of the work of Sir Ken Robinson and in particular his presentation, How to escape Education’s Death Valley. We are guided on a daily basis by this one page plan. It outlines where we are heading and what is important to us as we head in that direction, in other words our values.

The task of education is one that still has huge purpose and influence in creating and moulding young lives so that they are productive members of the world in which they find themselves. That might sound a bit 'airy fairy' but in a short sentence it does describe a nugget of truth. I enjoy immensely the challenge of leading and creating a school community that gives all children that opportunity.

When I'm not at work, I enjoy playing with technology, mountain biking and spending time with my family including the family chocolate lab, Bono.

What do I believe?

Below I have written the short version of what I believe about education, learning and children.

The child part of the people equation deserves the best deal that can be possibly arranged. Decisions about the direction of the school, the people employed, the classrooms modernised, the playgrounds built and the resources purchased should be focused on providing the children with the best deal. It is my firm belief that all children can learn, although the speed of that progress will vary from child to child.

Let’s just make sure we give kids good experiences and that they learn how to read and write and think”
— John Dewey 1859-1952 | American Educator

The adult part of the equation looks like this: employ the best people, provide them with the best resources and all the support they need, expect great things from them and allow them to execute their role with excellence.

Keeping all this in mind, just what do I believe constitutes a great education? While much can and has been written, informed and un-informed to answer this very question, I like to keep it straightforward and rely on the words of American Educator John Dewey: “Let’s just make sure we give kids good experiences and that they learn how to read and write and think”.