The principal of a Whangārei school has been awarded one of two scholarships to attend a leadership programme run by the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Alec Solomon, principal of Tikipunga High School, will head to Sydney early next year to attend the Principals' Centre in Australia: Leadership for School Excellence - a new programme designed to cultivate and strengthen the management and leadership skills of school principals in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

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Solomon, who was awarded one of two scholarships available nationally to attend the programme, said he was excited about the learning that will come from the course.


"I'm delighted and honoured, and with only two scholarships being awarded in the country I also understand the responsibility that goes along with that."

Solomon applied for the programme and scholarship - which is worth nearly $6000 and covers most of his travel, accommodation and course fees - in September.

He said the opportunity was "too good to pass up".

"Harvard is world regarded in the leadership space and opportunities to attend one of their courses comes around very infrequently. I guess as an educational leader of a school, we're always looking at what we do and how we do it as well."

Solomon, who grew up in Waipū, said his role at Tikipunga High School was his first principal position. He has been at the school for six years now.

Prior to that he was deputy principal of Albany Senior School.

He said it was important for school staff and leaders to upskill no matter what their experience.

"We're in a position where we need to meet and exceed the expectations of our whānau and I guess our professional duty is to look at, and evaluate, and improve and I hope this course is a catalyst for some ongoing improvement as well."


He said the course covered instructional leadership, school culture, leadership development, strategy, and whānau-community engagement.

"One of the things we do really well here is leadership development. If you look at my time here we've had five staff who are now principals in other schools in New Zealand - I mean that's extraordinary.

"We're a school all about opportunities and growth. For students and for staff," he said.

Solomon said he was looking forward to filling his kete with knowledge.

"I'm really keen to reinforce some of my current learning and understandings and I'm really interested in building lasting connections with other principals and school leaders."