Monday, 21 March 2011
2# Visiting New Zealand Schools
Following the wedding we were beginning to become acclimatised to the lovely summer weather in New Zealand which was, according to news reports, enjoying its warmest February for years -
not something I was about to complain about as I thought about the freezing cold we had left at home in Scotland.
It was now time to start the series of school visits that had been planned.
The lovely people at the New Zealand Book Council (which works in a vaguely similar way to our own excellent Scottish Book Trust) contacted schools in their network just before Christmas.
Being on the other side of the world their schools were just about to start their long summer break but the response was wonderful with 21 schools asking if I could visit them when I came over in February. I decided to visit 9 schools, all in North Island in a kind of loop that would lead us back to Auckland in time to fly out later in the month, I was going to visit two schools in each place, and three when we returned to Auckland.
They were a mixture of primary and secondary schools and the teachers happily offered to get in touch during their holidays so that the details could be finalised before I left as the visits would be taking place at the beginning of their new school year (early February).
I wanted to speak to a mixture of ages of children but also in a variety of types of schools. The first I visited was in Palmerston North, and after a visit overnight with friends in Whanganui we headed to Awatapu College a High School where we were mat by a Scot whohas been resident in New Zealand for many years now, it was a nice touch!
Mike Tuck the Head of English at Awatapu College had organised two classes of 13-14 year olds for me to speak to about Dead Boy Talking and Spider, and there were some interesting questions.
After lunch there was a change of age group with a visit to a primary school to do a creative writing session with a small group of keen 8-9year old writers at the Central Normal School.
I was curious about the name and discovered that it comes from it being a school there student teachers are trained, the purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, which is where they get the name.
Leaving Palmerston North we headed South to Wellington, a beautiful city on a bay. We left Palmerston North in glorious sunshine but when we arrive din wellington the rain had arrived just before us and it was pouring. But by the time we had checked into our hotel the rain had stopped. Wellington is known to be a windy city and it lived up to its name the following day when we made our way to the New Zealand Book Council offices but with the sun shining it really didn't matter.