School's future still in doubt

01:34, Dec 13 2013

A "deep divide" among the Salford School community, staffing issues and an unsustainable financial position are just some of the concerns the commissioner has highlighted in her first report to the Ministry of Education.

The Invercargill school has been plagued by problems in recent years, culminating in a limited statutory manager being appointed, the board of trustees stepping down, then the principal being suspended and finally a commissioner being appointed.

The commissioner, Nicola Hornsey, published a scoping report last week but was unwilling to return calls to discuss the document.

The report was the first step in her intervention process and was given to the ministry to consider.

Ms Hornsey highlighted three main issues at Salford as being the school culture, the personnel and its financial stability.

"The nature of the issues outlined above mean that the level of risk posed to the ongoing sustainability of Salford School is high," the report says.


The ministry's acting head of sector enablement and support, Marilyn Scott, said the commissioner had already received an application for funding for the new year, which was being considered. The ministry had already provided the school with financial support to cover the cost of a limited statutory manager.

"We are reviewing the school's current financial situation to decide whether ongoing financial help is needed to meet the costs of the commissioner," Ms Scott said.

The report also addressed staffing issues, which were cited as the reason behind the school's principal, Marlene Campbell, being suspended in November.

At the time, the limited statutory manager, Peter Macdonald, said he suspended her for the sake of staff welfare. Ms Campbell could not be contacted yesterday.

Ms Hornsey says in her report that the school's working environment does not support the recruitment, retention and development of staff.

Three teachers are leaving this year, including acting principal Craig Tucker, teacher and team leader Linda Compton and reading recovery teacher Sharon Faul.

"The scope of risk is that the school parent community withdraws its support by enrolling students at other schools and ceases to participate in fundraising activities, staff morale remains low, recruitment and retention of staff remains challenging and that the school continues to operate a deficit budget."

Ms Scott said the commissioner is developing an action plan and the ministry would support her efforts to achieve the goals she set.

"Nicola Hornsey, the commissioner, has written to the staff and community of Salford School explaining that she is developing an action plan to address the issues identified in the scoping report. Ms Hornsey also states that student achievement and welfare remains the core focus of all activities at the school."

Despite the troubles at the school, the predicted roll for 2014 is higher than for 2013.

Ministry figures show a roll of 247 is expected at the start of next year, compared to the 231 pupils in March.


The Southland Times