St Andrew's High School
St Andrew's Anglican High School was founded in 1905 as a primary school in the grounds of St Paul's Parish Church in Nuku'alofa. In 1971 it was rebuilt as a Year 7 to 12 High School on its present site. Among its ex-students are many distinguished Tongan men and women, including government ministers, clergy and the present Archbishop of Polynesia, the Rt Revd Winston Halapua.
Most schools in Tonga are run by the majority Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, with others run by the Catholic, Adventist, Free Tongan, and Pentecostal churches. St Andrew's is the only Anglican school in Tonga.
The Government runs most primary schools and two secondary schools. Church secondary schools like St Andrew's have a problem with recruitment and retention of teachers because government schools pay salaries which are approximately four times as much as the church schools can pay.
St Andrew's is funded from fees, from a government subsidy on fees paid, from an annual grant by ex-students, and from a grant from the Diocese of Polynesia. Annual income generally totals about $350,000 Tongan. Like all Tongan schools, St Andrew's struggles to find enough funds to carry on its work. Many families are unemployed and cannot easily pay the fees, and the government subsidy is sometimes not paid in full. Money for maintenance and basic educational supplies is inadequate.
Students are very proud of their school, and their pride often centres around the school band, shown here in the annual street march to mark the opening of Parliament.
Teachers, who at one time had few qualifications, are now undertaking retraining and upskilling with government support. The school leadership team is being mentored by Dr Kay Hawk, an expert educationist from Auckland, and standards of teaching and accountability are rising.
The Hornsby Trust is currently organising professional development leave for teachers to spend time at New Zealand schools. Edgewater College in Auckland hosted the first two teachers in 2016, and there are plans for further visits in the future.