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A New Teacher Training Scheme

A New Teacher Training Scheme

Taken from the May 2022 edition of Ad Augusta.

In 2021, Auckland Grammar School took on three teacher trainees in a new teacher training scheme. Both the School and trainees were thrilled with the outcome.

Auckland Grammar School’s teaching staff at the start of 2022 included three men new to the teaching fraternity, all of whom have diverse backgrounds and are loving the career change. Mr Willie Rickards ’98, Mr Nico Leiseder and Mr Josh Potaka (pictured above with mentor Ms Adrienne Birtwistle) were inaugural students of the Auckland Schools’ Partnership Project (ASPP). The initiative is based on the belief that the best teacher training happens in the context of classroom experiences within schools. In its first year of operation last year, Auckland Grammar School was one of 11 Auckland secondary schools working in partnership with the University of Waikato led programme. Across the 11 schools involved, there were 24 trainees accepted in total, three of them at Grammar. This year a further nine Auckland schools have joined the programme.

Adrienne mentored the trainee teachers and says, “it is a fantastic way for us to find quality people to teach at Grammar, who bring with them wonderful experience in other fields, and a passion to teach.” The School chose three teacher trainees who exemplify Adrienne’s point.

Willie has a Sports Management and Coaching degree from Massey University and before teaching was the Head Coach of the Taranaki Rugby side. Previous to that, he was Head Coach of the Taranaki Sevens rugby team, and played for Taranaki.

Josh graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biotechnology. His last position was at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), where he worked in the toxicology lab and the Forensic Service Centre laboratories. Josh has also been involved with helping police collect DNA in specialist situations and supporting PhD students completing their research into baby and fetal health at the Liggins Institute.

Nico has a Master of Arts in History and Comparative Germanic Linguistics from the University of Zurich. He enjoyed working in jobs throughout University that allowed him to share the stories of the past with people, while they also learnt new skills and facts. A teaching diploma was already next in his career plan, and he had applied for the regular postgraduate diploma before he became aware of the one-year programme at the University of Waikato.

A specialist English master in her own right, Adrienne runs the programme and explains choosing the right candidates is crucial. “Last year we had three excellent trainees in Willie, Josh and Nico chosen from a sizeable application group. All three had experience training, or working with young people, that made them ideally suited to transition to the classroom.”

The course is challenging. Trainees are immersed in a chosen school for an entire year. They are positioned as staff of their partner school but are fully supervised when they are in classrooms by Mentor Teachers, such as Adrienne, who are fully certified teachers. At the same time, they are enrolled in the University of Waikato’s one-year Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme. Throughout the year, they attend workshops at each of the partner schools, on topics related to their teaching practice. At the end of the programme they receive their Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and are eligible for teacher registration and employment, ideally at the same school which has hosted them. All three Grammar trainees are staying on at Grammar, fully immersed in the life and culture of the School.

The School was keen to engage in the new training programme as research shows that the greatest influence on student learning is the classroom teacher. Grammar has a wealth of excellence in teaching giving trainees a good start. Adrienne believes it to be a good fit with the School’s ethos. “Our belief is that trainee teachers gain the most valuable experience when they are under the supervision of expert teachers, in a school, where they can practise skills and develop knowledge, that help them make the links between theory and practice in authentic settings.”

Managing the demands of study, teaching, and extracurricular activities, as well as their own family commitments, meant the course required a robust commitment from trainees. While challenging at times, all agreed it was an excellent course.

Nico, Willie and Josh have not had anyone follow in their footsteps this year. As Adrienne plainly puts it, the right fit is crucial. “This year we had fewer applications, and none in the subject areas that we were looking for, with the suitable background experience. So, we have nobody in the programme this year.”

The School is now actively looking for candidates for next year, and Adrienne is keen to hear from those looking to teach. “We have begun the process of taking applications for 2023, with people already contacting the School directly to express their interest.”

Headmaster’s Heritage Committee interview with the oldest living Old Boy

Headmaster's Heritage Committee member Mark Galloway with Dr Roger Reynolds '61 (left) and Dr Juda Laurence Reynolds '28, the School's oldest living Old Boy

Today, Auckland Grammar School acknowledges the recent passing of Dr Laurie Reynolds ’28, the School’s oldest living Old Boy at 107 years of age.

Born in 1915, Laurie was engaged with School life attending a variety of fixtures and events including the 150th celebrations in 2019. He most recently recorded an interview with his son Dr Roger Reynolds ’61 and Headmaster’s Heritage Committee member M. A. G. Galloway.

In acknowledging Laurie’s remarkable life, the School and Old Boys’ Association extend their sympathies to the Reynolds family.

Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Qualifying Journey

Students on the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Qualifying Journey

On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May, a group of 65 students across all year levels completed their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Qualifying Journey in the Coromandel National Forest.

The first day saw the students walk 12km through dense forest, and getting their feet wet on a river crossing to arrive at the Totara Flat Campsite, where they set up tents for the night and had time to adventure along the river nearby. In the evening, they donned their headtorch for a 6km walk to pay tribute to a majestic kauri tree with a Māori prayer. 

Day two saw the students wake at 5am to start their conquest of the Pinnacles in mystical conditions, walking through low-hanging clouds to reach the summit. After the challenge of the seemingly never-ending stairs, followed by the near rock-climbing conditions to reach the summit, the students made their way down the valley through the slippery Billy Goat track.

Despite the challenging conditions, the students went above and beyond throughout the 10 hours of the hike, showing formidable resilience. It was with a damp smile on their faces and unwavering positive attitude that they looked back on their journey, having embraced a sense of adventure.

Congratulations to all students involved and to Master in Charge Mr Sylvain Bidet for his ongoing support.

New Plymouth Boys’ High School traditional exchange

New Plymouth Boys' High School traditional exchange

On Tuesday 10 May, the Premier Basketball, 1st XI Football and Hockey teams, and the Under 15 and 1st XV Rugby teams took part in the annual traditional exchange with New Plymouth Boys’ High School.

It was a fantastic day for our students. The Under 15 Rugby team start the day with a 31-5 win on the Number 2 field, followed by the Premier Basketball in the Sports Centre who won 76-53.

Down on the lower field, the 1st XI Football team fought hard for a 1-1 draw, while the 1st XI Hockey team had to settle for a 2-4 loss.

The exchange concluded with a gritty performance from the 1st XV Rugby team on the No. 1 field. Staff and students surrounded the sidelines to see the team win 19-17 which included a successful penalty in the final seconds of the match.

Congratulations to all staff and students involved in the exchange and we look forward to taking part in New Plymouth in 2023.

ANZAC Day address from The Honourable Christopher Finlayson QC

A video message from this year's ANZAC Day guest speaker, The Honourable Christopher Finlayson QC

Due to the country moving to the Orange setting, we were fortunate enough to be able to host our annual ANZAC Day service in the Great Hall this morning.

This year’s guest speaker was The Honourable Christopher Finlayson QC, an Old Boy of St Patrick’s College in Wellington, a barrister and a former National MP. Unfortunately Christopher was unable to attend the service in person this morning, so he recorded a video message for the wider School community, which you can view below:

Obituary – 25-year master Rodney Gordon

25-year Master, Rodney Gordon

Mr Rodney Gordon, a beloved 25-year Grammar master, passed away peacefully at home on Monday 18 April.

Mr Gordon was courageous in fighting his illness over the last decade, and travelled the world, with the support of the Grammar community, seeking treatment, so he had more time with family and more time in the classroom, teaching the subject he loved.

Always with a positive outlook, Mr Gordon was a man who did not like being unwell; he would often be seen running barefooted around the top field before school in order to retain some form of fitness, independence and normality. The classroom and being at school amongst boys and colleagues provided him with a reprieve from his illness and he valued the support given to him by the Commerce department, the Water Polo fraternity and the wider School community.

Mr Gordon’s name is synonymous with Auckland Grammar School. Having taught at Grammar since 1992, he was in his 31st year teaching all levels of Economics and had been responsible for NCEA Economics since late 2003 until his illness prevented him from continuing with this responsibility. He had also taught IGCSE / Pre-Q Business Studies and NCEA Accounting. He was a well-respected master who was a specialist teacher who had forged and maintained very strong relationships with students and colleagues across the school.

Outside the classroom, Mr Gordon was committed to the School’s extracurricular programme. reflected in his leadership of Cross Country, the Distance Squad, Triathlon and Water Polo at various times in his tenure. He had been Master in Charge of Triathlon since 1992 and was responsible for introducing the sport at Grammar.

Mr Gordon had been a recognisable figure running with the Distance Squad on early mornings and thereafter advancing his personal fitness, including when extremely unwell in the pool, on the track or on the roads. He was excited about the development of the 150th pool project and will be remembered as being an influencer who helped initiate interest in the concept of an outdoor pool purpose-fit for Swimming and Water Polo.

Numerous Grammar teams went on to win national titles under his watchful eye, including New Zealand Secondary Schools championships in Cross Country, Road Racing, Triathlon and Water Polo. Largely away from school, he had a love of surf lifesaving and the sea which was something he passed on to his sons and many Old Boys. 

Mr Gordon will be remembered for his generosity of spirit, his willingness to freely help students with their studies or a training schedule and was always invigorated by seeing Old Boys go on to represent New Zealand in their chosen sports. He was a proud Grammar man who was a selfless contributor while role-modelling the School’s values in his everyday life. At the same time his stubborn, fiercely independent approach to fighting his illness was admired by his colleagues and students alike.

He will be greatly missed by students, staff, Old Boys and friends of the School, and our deepest sympathies are extended to Sue, Jack, Tom and his extended family.

A celebration of Mr Rodney Gordon’s life will be held at 1.00pm on Friday 22 April in The Great Hall. The service will be livestreamed and can be accessed here.

The family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations to The Rodney Gordon Trust would be warmly received by emailing Debbie Burridge at

Four additional Prefects announced

Four additional Prefects announced

On Thursday 14 April, four additional Prefects were announced in the final assembly for Term 1.

These four Form 7 students will work together with the rest of the Prefect cohort to lead the student body for the remainder of the 2022 academic year.

S. W. Harnett, J. I. Holmes, K. J. Low and R. S. Vanal crossed stage to receive their Prefects’ tie, badge and the School’s congratulations. Their 2021 extracurricular activities are listed below:

S. W. Harnett

  • Grammar Virtuosi
  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Symphony Strings
  • Proceres Grammatici
  • Premier Water Polo team

J. I. Holmes

  • Rowing Senior Eight

K. J. Low

  • Cricket 2nd XI Blue
  • Distance Squad

R. S. Vanal 7C

  • Amnesty International Group
  • Interact Group

Important Notices from the Headmaster – April 2022

Important Notices from the Headmaster - April 2022

End of Term

The Term 1 School Examinations have now concluded and your son will be in the process of receiving examination feedback from his classroom teachers. Alongside this feedback, normal teaching programmes will continue until the end of Period 7 this Thursday.

Please be aware leave will not be granted for students to finish the term early for travel or holiday reasons. We appreciate your support as we aim to maximise teaching time.

Term 1 Reports

The first formal report of the year will be delivered electronically via the Parent Portal. This report focuses on your son’s Term 1 examination results and he will receive an examination mark and an attitude/effort grade for each subject. Please be aware there are no teacher comments on the first set of reports.

We expect reports will be made available on the Portal at the beginning of the second week of the holidays. You will be advised of the availability of the reports via email. 

Student Attendance – Notification of Absences

A reminder that if your son is absent, we ask you to immediately complete the Absence Notification e-form that is accessed within the Parent Portal on the day of his absence. This is a legal requirement and is part of our duty of care which we cannot fulfil without your co-operation.

Parents should log in and click on the Absence Notification link under Student Information, which is found on the homepage of the Parent Portal. Parents should be aware that submitting an e-form verifies your son’s absence and will generate an automatic response to the email address you have provided us. It is important that you do not disclose your Parent Portal login and password details to your son, to ensure the legitimacy of this functionality.

There is no requirement to phone the School nor to provide a written note to notify us of an absence.

Student Office Updates

Please note that the above system for notifying the School of your son’s absence does not apply for exeat requests, where temporary leave is sought to leave the campus for appointments throughout the School day. Your son should bring a note to the Deputy Headmaster on the front steps of the Main Block after assembly to receive approval.

When your son provides this note to the Deputy Headmaster, he will be given a permission slip to allow him to leave his lesson at the appropriate time, at which point he must formally sign out at the Student Office before departing.

If your son is late to school, due to a pre-arranged appointment, please provide him with a written note to be handed to our Student Office staff upon his arrival.

Parents should be aware the Student Office does not accept or distribute any items, including lunches, delivered for your son during the School day.

2021 Cambridge International Examinations Documentation and May/June 2022 Examination Series

Official Cambridge Results Certificates from the November 2021 Examination Series were distributed to current students (who did Cambridge exams last year) at a Form Period today. Old Boys have had their certificates posted to them.

Senior students who are re-sitting Cambridge AS examinations in the 2022 May/June Series received their Statement of Entry and Examination Timetable and Rooming Guide at an examination briefing in Week 9. The Timetable and Rooming Guide for the May/June Series has been posted on the School website and on GrammarNet. Cambridge Examinations start on Friday 29 April and finish on Friday 10 June. Students and parents should also be reminded that, as per the AS Re-sit Application Form, students are not permitted to have Study Leave, as their regular A Level classes will be operating as usual during the exam period.

Parent Teacher Interviews in Term 2

We begin Parent Interviews in Term 2. Interviews take place between 3pm – 6pm from Week 3 in the Great Hall. We would encourage you to take the opportunity to make appointments online to meet with your son’s teachers.

Interview bookings are made electronically and parents will be sent booking information and explanation of the process two weeks prior to your son’s year group interviews. Interview bookings are on a first in, first served basis, so we encourage you to act upon the email when you receive it.

Please be aware that the School day will conclude at 2.30pm on the days of Parent Interviews, as follows:

  • Form 6 and 7 Interviews – Thursday 19 May
  • Form 5 Interviews – Monday 23 May
  • Form 4 Interviews – Tuesday 31 May
  • Form 3 Interviews – Wednesday 22 June

Winter Sport

Trials are well underway for the winter sports season. We strongly encourage all young men to play a winter sport and hope that your son has registered for a winter code by now. If he has not done this he should see Head of Sport Mr Willie Rickards for more information or go direct to the Master in Charge of the code he wishes to play. He can find this information on the School website

Please remember that full and correct sporting uniform is required from the start of the season, otherwise young men will not be permitted to play. It is vital therefore that each player has the correct socks, shorts and shirt or jersey. We encourage parents to purchase the correct sports uniform as soon as possible, as winter sport starts promptly in Term 2.

The School does not allow young men to have compression clothing visible underneath their sports uniform. We appreciate your support as standards are set in all aspects of School life. 

It is always good to see strong School and parental support on our sidelines. We simply ask that Grammar expectations are met or surpassed and that we only share positive or encouraging comments. We really appreciate our parochial supporters, but we ask that actions, attitudes and comments are supportive of ‘The Grammar Way’.


If a young man is away from School the day prior to, or the day of, a sporting fixture for medical or other reasons, he will be ineligible to play for his School team. It is the School’s view that if a young man is not well enough to be at School prior to a fixture, he is not well enough to represent the School in any extracurricular activity. Please ensure his coach or manager is informed of such an absence before his game.

School Uniform

When Term 2 starts on Monday 2 May, students are permitted to wear jackets around School and in classes, however they are not permitted to wear jackets in Science laboratories or Technology workshops for health & safety reasons.

We remind all students that the only jackets that may be worn to School are the approved School Jacket (available for sale in the School Shop) and the School Rep jacket. Students should not wear the School cap from the beginning of Term 2.

Sandals are only approved for wear in Term 1 and Term 4. All students are expected to wear shoes and socks in Terms 2 and 3, with garters used to ensure their socks are worn to the top of their calf muscles.

A message from the 2022 Head Prefect

A message from 2022 Head Prefect Louis Eglinton

Dear Parents and Guardians

With Term 1 wrapping up, it is a fitting time to sit and reflect upon the term it has been. It has definitely been an atypical start to the year – daily assemblies beginning on the top field, coming in and out of isolation – but as a school, I think we have navigated it well. 

We have achieved a lot in the 12 weeks we have been back on campus. Sport codes have been successful in their respective Auckland competitions, and also on a national scale during Summer Tournament Week. From inside the classroom, to the stage, and out on the sports field, there has been a flurry of activity which will only continue as we progress through the 2022 academic year.

After the full Prefect cohort was named in Week 1, we have actively tried to lead the charge. From helping to get the new Form 3 students settled into their first term at the School, to initiatives such as the lunchtime Touch Rugby tournaments and fundraising for the Cameron Wilson Trust, it has indeed been a busy term, but one that we can be proud of. We all feel grateful to be able to be (somewhat) free from the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, and operate as close to normal as possible.

While I was writing this message, our cohort was finishing their third-to-last round of School exams, and likewise the Form 3 cohort were completing their first round – a big achievement in itself. I am sure it will feel rewarding to see your hard work pay off. However, in the meantime, take these holidays to relax, reflect, and enjoy spending time with family and friends. 

As we prepare for Term 2, we should continue on our trajectory to getting back to normal amongst this COVID-19 landscape. It was a pleasure to be able to have our first official event of the year last week – our Form 3 Parents’ Welcome Evening – to be able to speak to those in attendance and meet some parents with sons new to the School. I am certainly looking forward to more of those opportunities to connect with this wider community in the months to come. 

It has been a fantastic experience leading the school so far this year, alongside Deputy Head Prefect Will Jones, Senior Prefects Will Cotter, Apa Fatialofa, Matt Griffiths and Tom Hiddleston, the Prefects and the wider Form 7 cohort. I know we are all very excited to move forward and to continue stay actively involved in our community.

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

L. M. Eglinton
2022 Head Prefect

Message from the Headmaster – April 2022

Headmaster Tim O'Connor

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Thank you for the support you have given your sons throughout the first term of the 2022 academic year. It is the longest term and given the tumultuous times, we are pleased with the way young men have responded and grown in resilience.

Our primary focus this term has been on achieving the requirements of teaching programmes, while maintaining a sense of normality for students and staff. Normality has been promoted through the consistent application of school standards, following daily routines such as assembly, holding scheduled annual school championships, and supporting teams competing in College Sport competitions, regional and national championships throughout Summer Tournament Week.

We have been impressed with the way students have met our basic expectations and accepted the changing, but ongoing restrictions that impacted on them and their daily lives. Many have been affected by personal or family sickness and associated periods of home isolation. But, in variable circumstances, we have seen proactive responses to their studies and extracurricular commitments. Likewise, students have responded well to health and safety protocols on campus, including the wearing of face masks while indoors. 

Ultimately, the past 11 weeks aimed to prepare your sons for the assessments that made up the Term 1 Examination Series. I have reminded students in recent assemblies that if we are to advance their understanding of subject specific content, we need to understand what knowledge they have acquired during the term. This best occurs through providing checkpoints for learning and the assessments help your sons’ teachers make judgements about how much has been learned.

Creating and maintaining a stable, high standards environment, and a rigorous teaching framework supported by regular assessment are all essential elements to the fabric and makeup of Auckland Grammar School.  That is because these elements are proven to promote learning and when applied well, they build a positive culture for all. In times of ongoing uncertainty, these have also been the handrail that has helped guide us.

Together with our School values, mission and vision, these elements are part of ‘The Grammar Way’. It has been – and will continue to be – core to how our young men and staff operate. We continue to reinforce The Grammar Way and our educational beliefs for the betterment of your sons education through the messages we give them in assembly, throughout the School day and through external communications like this one.

I have no doubt that the more consistent we are in building a unique School culture, where expectations are clearly articulated, and applied, the more opportunity there is for your sons to be ‘better than before’ and achieve their potential.

As your sons receive their Term 1 raw examination marks back in the next two days, I hope they reflect what they have learned, the effort put in and their attitudes.  

Finally as the term concludes, I wish you a safe and Happy Easter and valuable time with family and friends.

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

Tim O’Connor