Tags:VolunteersPrincipalEducationPrimary

Case Studies
02/02/2020
4 min read

Scott and Pelu: A new level in leadership

Springboard Trust simply doesn’t function without its capacity partners (CPs). As volunteers from our partner organisations (or coming to us on their own), CPs are paired with New Zealand principals and teach them the essentials of strategic planning. 

More than this, they form lifelong professional and personal relationships. Being a capacity partner means building trust and helping communities – which is where Scott Beattie excels.  

A tangible difference

Scott works at ASB on the North Wharf in Auckland, and is in his third year as a CP with Springboard Trust. He conducts pro bono work through the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP), assisting New Zealand’s educational leaders to achieve their potential.  

If that wasn’t enough, he has also done significant work in our Kahui Ako consulting programme, and ran a turnaround project for Takinini School. You might say he has a passion for what we do.  

“I like coaching and do a lot of it in the workplace,” he explains. “So that’s one of my selfish reasons for volunteering as a capacity partner.”  

With a passion for both strategy and helping others, Scott is making a difference and significantly transforming schools for students to thrive through these programmes – as those he’s worked with can attest.  

Breaking new ground

Pelu Leaupepetele is the Principal at Wymondley Road School in Otara, and speaks highly of the work Scott has done with him – and therefore his community.  

The two met in 2014, when Pelu took on the SLPP at a relatively new point in his education career. One year into his role as principal, he had completed some professional development but wanted much, much more.  

Insights from business, experience of new leadership styles, and dealing with difficult issues that can cloud a leader’s vision. Put a strategic plan on top of that, and Pelu’s appetite for growth was immense.  

However, as many principals understand, there often aren’t enough hours in the day to do this work yourself. Pelu had used templates and frameworks from the Ministry of Education and done extensive consultation with the community, which resulted in a clear Vision and Purpose for his school. But with so many distractions, he was unable to properly focus on his strategic leadership.  

Enter Springboard Trust, Scott, and the SLPP.  

The difference a capacity partner makes

Over 12 months, Scott partnered with Pelu as his capacity partner during SLPP to improve his strategic planning. With no preconceived ideas of how to build this capacity, Scott began simply by understanding Pelu as a person.  

“His strategic ability was there – it was just a matter of unearthing it and helping him with that.” 

“One big a-ha moment came when I realised the same issues clouding Pelu’s strategic thought were probably the ones keeping me up at night! If we could resolve these, we’d get a lot more done together.” 

Confidence, collaboration and focus

Pelu reflects that after a year of SLPP, working with Scott and meeting five other principals on the same journey as him, he has made three key strides forward:  

  • He is now strategic in his leadership 

  • He is more confident in his leadership 

  • He has facilitated the creation of a strategic plan document that genuinely serves his school community 

 “I can go home with a smile, feeling assured that things are on the right track.” - Pelu Leaupepetele

A good example of this growth is in school meetings. Previously, they were just a checklist of items to be worked through with no real value or engagement. With some consultative changes, the meetings now have a specific focus on pastoral care and student achievement.  

It is visible organic change that has spread throughout Pelu’s school. By building from the teacher up rather than the principal down, the entire teaching group has learned and experienced change alongside him.  

“Now they feel confident challenging me, sharing their ideas and growing their roles. Everyone knows where they sit in the waka and where it is going – and will speak up if they have feedback.” 

Scott brings the same metaphor to the table to highlight how much improvement Pelu and his team have made.  

“Pelu was in the waka, and he knew where he was going, but he just didn’t have the paddlers with him. He realised it can’t just be him at the back of the waka, going around in circles.” 

“Great vision, mission and goals, but with no crew. Over the year he got everyone into that team, told them the ideas and gave them a platform to change them. He started a revolution.”  

Sometimes, this outside perspective can be just the thing a principal needs to create change and transform their school.  

“I always had an awareness of the layers and complexity of leadership”, Pelu notes, “but doing SLPP pulled back the layers to see what else is there.”

“Each time Scott and I spoke and I took on his ideas, I went to a new level in my leadership.”  

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