Today the Rotorua Daily Post begins a new weekly series, profiling a local school. We start with Kaitao Intermediate.

It's a case of new year, new uniform and new logo for Kaitao Intermediate.

Previously known as Kaitao Middle School, the Western Heights school is phasing in a smarter and sharper uniform with a new logo.

It's been heralded by Phil Palfrey, who's been the principal for just under a year.


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Palfrey said other introductions in 2018 included the launch of Kiwi Can and a big push for students to bring their own devices.

"The challenge is to make sure all of the students are using digital devices to problem solve, rather than for social media," Palfrey said.

Since joining the school in Term 2 of 2017, Palfrey said he had enjoyed getting to know intermediate-aged students after a stint at primary schools.

"It's really interesting, frustrating, fascinating, difficult but also intellectually challenging.

"Challenges have been the whole cohort changes, half of the school changes. But it's been good because Year 7 is much larger. We had 170 enrolments this year. These kids have come with a fresh approach."

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Palfrey said his focus was to make the school one that catered to the needs of emerging adolescents.

"A lot of these kids come from low socio-economic backgrounds given this is decile 2.

"We want, and push for, a predictable environment for all of the kids to come to and enjoy but there's a lot of hard learning that has to happen too."

The Western Heights school has roughly 320 students, including about 150 Year 8 students.

Logan Potae, 12, said the teachers and students had created a bond over their time together.

"Sometimes they have to be strict but that's their job," Logan said.

Sean Tomlinson, 12, agreed.

"I will miss the teachers and the Year 7s [when I leave]. We've bonded with them. Leaving at the end of the year will be hard. They're like good friends."

Some of the highlights of the students' time at school so far were a marae trip, school social and graphic design classes.

About the school
Location: Bell Rd, Western Heights
Type: State, co-educational intermediate (Year 7-8)
Roll: 295 (in July 2017)
Gender composition: Boys 50%, Girls 50% (at July 2017)
Ethnic composition: Maori 77%, Pakeha 20%, other 3% (at July 2017)
Motto: Mā te whanau tātou e puāwai, Achieving success together
ERO: Next visit in April 2018