Our 3rd Principal:
Mr. Barry P. Finch, QSM, JP, B.Sc, Dip Tchg,
The third principal at Spotswood College is a true Taranaki boy... Born in Stratford and educated at the then Stratford Technical High School which later became the present day Stratford High School.
A three month sojourn through Australia, Malaysia, Burma to India in early 1961 followed before continuing his education at Victoria University in Wellington and later at Auckland University, culminating with a science degree and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching.
Throughout those early formative years in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s he followed a pattern of heavy involvement in sport, a pattern that was the norm for the vast majority of young men of the day.
He notably had success as a national age group swimmer, in Basketball where he did gain representation in a North Island development team and, being a good Taranaki boy, was a rugby player with moderate success. Notably as a Taranaki Colt while still at high school, and later on as lock for the Wellington senior second team while studying at Victoria University.
Once his playing days were over the transition to coaching followed. Rugby at schoolboy level for many years but more particularly in Basketball at both school, local, regional and national level. The highlight unquestionably when he acted for many years as team manager for the highly successful New Plymouth national league team with the now Taranaki legend, “Coach”. ..... Steve McKeen.
His teaching career began with introductory spells at Kings College, Kelston Boys and Seddon Tech, all in Auckland however Taranaki called !!
By this stage, having married his childhood sweetheart(Corrina) and she being a local Taranaki girl, it was inevitable that that the call “home” would be strong. They would later teach together for many years at Spotswood College (1975-2002). Both of their children attended Spotswood College. Greg from 1981-1985 was the Dux in 1985, and Michelle from 1983-1987.
In those early days it was compulsory for all teachers to complete three years at a designated, so called, country school so the move back to Stratford as a teacher of Mathematics and Physics followed. Satisfying both family expectations and career requirements.
At the end of the three years he received a call from the founding Principal of Spotswood College, Mr Alex McPhail, who made him an offer to teach at Spotswood. One that was simply to good to refuse!
So at a very early age he became involved as a faculty leader in Mathematics and Physics... the beginning of the promotional ladder to, initially deputy principal and then on to Principal.
Unlike the typical pattern these days of multiple moves, his teaching career has been basically centred on Spotswood. Something he is in fact immensely proud of.
Spotswood at that time was actually one of the two biggest school in New Zealand , the other being Burnside High in Christchurch, and was fortunate to have on its staff, some of the leading educationalists in the country.
This environment of excellence opened up for him an exciting world of leadership in the fields of Mathematics and Physics.
At various times over the next pre-principal period he was heavily involved in curriculum development. Such things as writing mathematics texts for the local Mathematics Association, writing a series mathematical item banking materials for the national testing of mathematical achievement, for the development of the national guidelines for the Year 13 calculus curriculum, piloting new national PSSC physics curriculum for Year 12 and also it’s development into Project Physics, and also as marker for the then School Certificate Physics.
Over this period various secondments as an Inspector of Schools and later to the ERO ( Education Review Office) gave him the opportunity to see in operation many of the best teaching practices in the country.
He marvels at those exciting times and the wonderful opportunities that were then available to teachers and the support they were given.
As often happens in the teaching profession, with the passage of time and greater demands of management responsibilities, classroom and curriculum involvement decreased. Promotion to Deputy Principal in 1984 and then Principal in 1987 effectively ended that curriculum focus of his career but opened up opportunity for leadership and management which he is still involved with to this day.