Fri 7 Dec 2018

New direction for TF leader

The man who has driven Taranaki’s hugely successful Build a Bach programme is to leave Taranaki Futures.

Warwick Foy, who has been general manager for five years, the last three full time, will go back to school as the leader of Learning Pathways at Sacred Heart Girls' College next year.

WITT’s acting Chief Executive Lyal French-Wright said Warwick’s determination and drive has been a key factor in the continuing success of the Build a Bach programme, which had benefitted dozens of students, and had also been of enormous value to WITT.

Build a Bach is a combined programme which sees Taranaki businesses combine to help with the construction, by secondary school students, of baches on the WITT campus in New Plymouth.

It has been mimicked elsewhere in the country, but the secondary school component makes it unique in Taranaki.

The project has grown in recent years – the bach started as a single bed 56 square metre unit and is now a three bedroom 137 square metre home. In 2015 the programme involved building a new office for the New Plymouth District Council’s zoo.

Build a Bach was the brain child of former New Plymouth Boys’ High headmaster Michael McMenamin and Warwick said driving it had been a life changing experience for him.

“I was at a luncheon this week and the parents of one of our students told me it had changed his life too,” he said. “It takes disengaged, bored young students and gives them a focus. It legitimises the view that there are other ways of learning.”

He said it was wonderful to be able to illustrate that to families and the community that students could be taken out of a classroom and learn on a building site.”

Taranaki Futures is investigating a similar programme which would have a “Build a Trailer” brand.

The Māori Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) programme, which provides scholarships and support, had also been a successful partnership with WITT.

Warwick said the other major success in his time at Taranaki Futures had been the development of the Accelerator Programme.  It is a youth business internship and mentoring programme for year 12 and 13 students. They are matched with business mentors once a week over the second term of the school year and hear from speakers and their coaches.

“There are so many good stories from this programme, it gives young people an opportunity to network, and that is so powerful.”

Warwick’s decision to embrace a new challenge is in keeping with a pattern of make a change every six or so years.

The father of three joined Taranaki Futures from Inglewood High School and says he always believed he would eventually return to teaching.

“After five years I felt a little spent, that it was time for someone with fresh ideas - but I remain as enthusiastic as ever about providing pathways for young people and I am very keen to set things up for my successor. This role requires a strange skill set – it’s a small operation and everyone does everything.”

He will leave on January 25 next year with no regrets. The job had helped him grow as a person, he said.

“I have a lot of friends I look on as high flyers and always felt as a teacher a little inadequate. But this role has so much meaning and value. I pulled out my diplomas and put them on the wall because it made me proud to be a teacher,” he said.

“I would like to thank our staff and board and all of the brilliant supportive local business that sponsored our work and/or hosted our students. Employer engagement with school students and schools is the single most important factor in improving education to employment transitions and we've got some bloody generous businesses in this region.”

Warwick was born in Hamilton, but his children and four previous generations were all born in Taranaki – “this is my tūrangawaewae.”

The two baches constructed on the WITT site this year are being marketed by Kylie Moore of McDonald Real Estate Ltd.

One has already been removed from the WITT site and taken to Central House Movers in New Plymouth’s Katere Rd. Kylie said there had been keen interests in the buildings, and she was hopeful at least one would be sold before the end of the year.


Pictured: Warwick Foy has overseen the development of Taranaki’s Build a Bach programme.