Justine Scott, Head of Junior Campus

Before joining Dilworth as Head of the Junior Campus, Justine spent eight years as Principal of Sunnyhills School in Pakuranga. Under her leadership, Justine helped take the school to one of New Zealand’s highest achieving primary schools, known for best practices in structured literacy, education for sustainability, digital technologies, and integration, as well as becoming the country’s first Google Reference Primary School.

Justine Scott

Widely respected across the education sector as a leader and for her accomplishments at Sunnyhills, Justine joined Dilworth at the start of 2024, with a clear mandate from the school’s Headmaster Dan Reddiex and the Trust Board to bring her educational magic and promote the Dilworth vision with the junior students. “I was really happy and satisfied with what we had achieved at Sunnyhills,” Justine says, “and it was time for a new challenge. I believe I can make a difference here, applying my skillset as a Principal into this role.”

Justine says there were several key factors in her decision to join Dilworth’s leadership team, including because it would allow her to get back to what she loves most: “I get to really focus on what I love, which is teaching, learning the curriculum, assessment, and coaching our staff to be the very best they can be. When you are the Principal of a primary school, you have to do everything. The finances, property management, staff management - and everything in between. It was complex. As Head of the Junior Campus, I can focus on why I came into education in the first place - to make a difference in the lives of these exceptional children.”

Being closer to her students’ actual learning has given Justine a renewed love of teaching. “I can make a bigger difference being closer to the students. I’m teaching financial literacy, as well as Ako Puāwaitanga which is our ‘Flourishing Curriculum.’ I’m hugely excited to be at Dilworth, and to be a part of changing both the fabric and reputation of the school. I know about the past and what happened - clearly, it’s an absolute tragedy - but I want people to know, I’m a part of the change, of what Dilworth is now, of building a stronger future, and making sure nothing like that ever happens again. We are all, every one of us, absolutely committed to that outcome.”

If one of the best ways to honour the past is by safeguarding the future, then Justine is determined to help effect change, while providing the safest and most comprehensive education possible for her students. She says she has some natural advantages in helping the school as it reforms from the ground up, and promotes the original vision of its founders, James and Isabella Dilworth. “Having a female Head of the Junior Campus is really important,” Justine says. “Not just because of my skill set, but for facing outwards into our communities, and for parents as their first port of call for anything to do with their sons.”

She believes there is nothing else in the educational landscape offering the same opportunities for young boys as Dilworth. “Our junior curriculum is exceptional. It has been backwards mapped from Year 10, and we teach specialist subjects with specialist teachers, unlike other primary schools where you have a generalist teacher teaching everything, usually in large class sizes. We have specialist teachers for English, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Science and Technology, and so on. We can also leverage our staff across our other campuses, and we do. This creates a truly exceptional learning environment for our students, and along with our small class sizes and wrap-around support, gives them every opportunity to grow into extraordinary young men.”

Under Headmaster Dan Reddiex, Dilworth has worked hard to become one school, with one set of values, and a unified vision of a world standard educational institution where all its students are nurtured, protected, and cherished in safety.

Justine: “I believe we are more one school now than ever before. Because of how we’re resourced, with all our students on full scholarships, we can offer opportunities that other schools simply can’t. For example, our Learning in the Outdoors (LiTO) program based at Mangatāwhiri has been designed for every student, at every year level. The facilities and knowledge we have there for outdoor learning is phenomenal. Our junior students learn everything from mountain biking, sea kayaking, and rock climbing to river crossing, camping, and tramping. What I love about it is they go several times a year, not just once. So, as well as the best academics, they’re building a skillset for practical outdoor adventure, becoming really well-rounded people.”

As Head, she is also committed to giving the junior students a real voice in how the school runs, working with them to create a student council that will meet regularly. The council will give the students a say in what happens around them - and give Justine vital communication about what’s going on in their world. “For example, we’re currently considering building a new playground and we’re getting them involved in the design process, because they’re the ones who will use it.” She also sees the council as a vehicle for helping students gain essential skills of self-responsibility, self-management, and teamwork.

With the exception of some of the Year Seven students, most of the junior school are boarders. Justine believes this helps make the school unique and promotes its culture of personal excellence. “We do also offer a day option, and some of our students and their families have chosen that, but most of our students are here four nights a week. They go home on Friday and are expected back by 8.00 a.m. Monday, but most return on Sunday night. This helps them to maintain a strong family connection, which is vital, as well as providing the families with extra flexibility.”

Justine is already hard at work with her dedicated team developing the Junior School and its offering. “It’s already such a special place. With our Child Wise accreditation and safeguarding systems in place, we know that the school is now as safe as we can possibly make it. Safety is an integral part of everything we do, and the staff are committed to the wellbeing of the boys, and each other. I think Dan’s leadership around that has been truly inspirational. So, my role is to make the learning environment even better. I want to use my energy to bring real joy and fun into the campus, and to aim for excellence in everything we do, whether that’s music, sports, or academia.”