New Assistant Head of Middle School

30 November 2023

St Andrew's College Year 9 Dean, Year 10 Dean and Assistant Head of Middle School, Year 11 Dean and Year 12 Dean.


With over three decades as a teacher, including seven years as a Dean at St Andrew’s College, Liz Gormack brings a wealth of experience to the Assistant Head of Middle School role.

Liz was appointed to the newly created position in Term 1, to support Head of Middle School, Matt Parr, who has also continued as Director of Boarding. “My new role is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and putting everything I’ve learnt into practice around education and student well-being. Being a parent is an added benefit, as I can put myself in everyone’s shoes, from students, to their parents, and teachers.”

Alongside her leadership role providing operational support to Matt Parr, Liz has continued as the Year 9 Dean this year. She says the switch from being a full-time teacher to having just one Year 9 English class to teach, has been transformative. “I’ve lost two classes, which has freed me up significantly. I’m able to provide the necessary back up for Matt and the other Deans and can deal with any issues that arise much faster.”

A key aspect of the role is supporting Year 10 and Year 11 Deans, Lucy Curtis and Dayna Stirling. “I understand the demands of being a Dean alongside full-time teaching and provide support where I can. This could be anything from helping students work through issues, to running restoratives, and contacting parents if needed.”

This year, Liz is also helping English teacher, James Jenkinson, to prepare for the role of Year 9 Dean in 2024. “It is a big job to come into. James and I have been working closely together for some time to make his transition as smooth as possible.”

Liz says becoming a Dean at St Andrew’s is a ‘wonderful opportunity’ for teachers interested in pastoral care. “Each year, a new person starts as the Year 9 Dean and stays with the same cohort of students right up to Year 13. The College recognises people who are good communicators, have a good sense of humour, take the initiative, and have the ability to recognise pressure points.”

Liz started as a Year 9 Dean in 2017 and in 2021/22 had two years in a row with Year 13 students, after their previous Dean, Sarah Bishop left. “You get to know the students really well over their entire secondary schooling, and it’s exciting to see them ready to fly by Year 13.”

With three years’ experience as a Dean in the Senior College, Liz brings a unique perspective to supporting Middle School students who might be struggling with future academic or career pathways. “Having a holistic overview means I can sometimes suggest options in the Senior College a student may not be aware of, or can give examples of how we helped other students in a similar position when they were in Year 12 or 13.”

Liz’s career at St Andrew’s began in 2014, when she joined the College as an English/Media teacher. She has enjoyed working under leaders like Head of Senior College, John Ruge, and former Head of Middle School, Mikae Tuu’u, and is relishing the opportunity to work alongside Matt Parr. “Matt and I go a long way back, as he was a student at Christchurch Boys’ High School when I taught there, and we were later both involved with boarding at the school. Now I teach Matt’s son which is quite a turnaround. Matt is a fantastic communicator and working with him, and the rest of the Deans is great. I love my job.”

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