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New deputy ready to make a difference

Thames High School’s new tumuaki tuarua has started his tenure with a “rewarding” few weeks in the role.
Christopher Ashforth has taken over as the school’s deputy principal this month, bringing his “vast experience” and “positive influence” to the job.
Mr Ashforth trained at Auckland University, gaining a Graduate Diploma in Teaching before moving on to work at Mount Albert Grammar, Selwyn College, and Saint Kentigern College, where he taught as a visual art teacher specialising in photography for senior students.
In 2017, he became the Head of Learning for visual art at Tangaroa College.
There, he took on new challenges, becoming a Dean and moving through the different year levels of Year 9 to Year 13.
In 2022, he started studying for a Masters degree in Secondary Leadership at Victoria University, which inspired him to make a difference in other communities.
“During a visit to Thames to see my mother and father-in-law, my family and I were captivated by the stunning mountains, scenery, and the close-knit and supportive community,” he told The Profile. “My primary objective [as tumuaki tuarua] is to make a positive influence on the students and the community, just like the staff members are currently doing. Secondly, to finish my Masters of Secondary School Leadership and apply the acquired knowledge and experience to support the continuous development of Thames High School. Lastly, I look forward to learning from my experienced colleagues in the Senior Leadership team, as they have a lot to offer.”
Thames High tumuaki [principal] Michael Hart said it was “fantastic” to have Christopher joining the staff.
“Christopher brings a vast experience from a wide range of schools, and has great attributes for the role,” he said. “His experience in both curriculum and pastoral care leadership means he has the right stuff to be an effective leader of our junior school, and provide leadership and support to our pastoral team. At the heart of all our roles is the ability to engage with our diverse community, and form caring and trusting relationships with staff, students and whānau. Within the two weeks he has been with us, he has already made strong connections with our team, and has taken the time to connect with taiohi [young people]. We know he will make a great contribution to our team and school.”
The deputy principal role became available as the school’s incumbent, Mrs Natalie O’Neil, made the decision to dedicate herself to her family and the family farming business.
Mr Hart said the school was “lucky to have had a very strong field of candidates”.
“Christopher exceeded the board’s expectations for a passionate educational leader, who has a clear vision for education. He has a strong commitment to giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and strengthening our culturally responsive approach to wellbeing, learning and teaching. Our student council met all the candidates and were impressed with Christopher’s interest in them, to form connections and listen to them. It is clear that his experience and his formal educational leadership studies mean he has a good grasp of the challenges and opportunities for our school. His insights into what works in other schools and understanding of best practice is an asset we are fortunate to have secured.”