Rector Ian Baldwin is bowing out

Southland Boys' High School rector Ian Baldwin. Photo: Petrina Wright

AFTER nearly four decades at Southland Boys’ High School (SBHS), long-standing rector Ian Baldwin is bowing out.

He retires at the end of the term.

Mr Baldwin said he was too busy to be excited about it yet.

“I am sure when I have got time, I will regret not having daily interaction with the kids and the staff. That is what keeps you young… and makes you grow old.”

Mr Baldwin started his teaching career at SBHS in 1974. He had short stints at Cargill High School and Quest Rapuara/Careers education before returning to SBHS as deputy principal in 1991, becoming rector in 2000.

After 42 years in the education sector, he was simply tired, he said.

“[The job] requires a high level of energy with constant engagement with students, staff and parents, and as I get older I have found putting in the big hours is beginning to take a toll.”

He was still effectively managing the school but did not have the energy to advocate for societal changes needed to enable schools to do their work, such as multi-agency support for at-risk pupils, better funding for schools and better health care, particularly mental health care, he said.

“I would like to advocate more and more for change but I simply don’t have the energy to do it and continue to do good work within the school.”

The biggest change he had seen in more than 40 years in teaching was the positive and negative impact of technology on society and within schools, he said.

Technology was putting more children at risk because of the instant gratification and instant failure associated with social media, and increasing pressure and stress on families, he said.

Highlights of his time in the job included working with staff to make the school a “more humane, happy and accepting place for children of all walks of life”, and successfully keeping the school open after the Ministry of Education schools network review of 2005 considered closing single-sex schools.

He was also proud to have attracted and retained a “talented staff” at a time when it was increasingly difficult to attract people to live in Southland and talented people into the teaching profession.

His advice for the incoming rector was to continue to challenge the restrictive views of masculinity.

Mr Baldwin with some of his boys. Photo: Supplied

“Encourage the students to take on different roles, to be as interested in cultural pursuits as they are in sports… to nurture, show affection and express how they feel is key.”

They also needed to find ways to generate more money for the school, as no government would be able to fund schools to the level needed, especially schools with diverse populations, he said.

His retirement plans involved building a home in Bannockburn, spending time with family, as well as four-wheel driving, fly fishing, hunting and getting involved in the community, he said.

SBHS board of trustees chairman John Rabbitt said Mr Baldwin’s legacy was two-fold – being considered throughout New Zealand as a leader of boys’ education and successfully growing the school roll from about 300 in the mid-2000s to 1000 today.

When Mr Baldwin took over as rector in 2000, the school’s roll was at an unsustainable level and the Ministry of Education (MoE) was considering closing it. At the time of the education review, the MoE gave Mr Baldwin about four months to incorporate Year 7 and 8 boys into the school.

“He did this with no additional classrooms, no extra resources or time to devote to it.”

A replacement had not yet been appointed. Mr Rabbitt said none of the applicants had met the board’s criteria.

It was the board’s responsibility to continue Mr Baldwin’s legacy and continue the momentum he had generated, he said.

“We want to make sure who we do appoint steps up the momentum another gear.

“We want the best and we will wait for it if we have to.”

Until a suitable replacement was found, former James Hargest College principal Paul O’Connor had been appointed the school’s interim rector, he said.

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