Heads 'no' to new job

PETRA FINER AND YVETTE BATTEN - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014

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Principals in Taranaki are baulking at the opportunity to become an executive principal.

Under the Ministry of Education's Investing in Education Success (IES) plan, one of the new roles includes that of an expert principal, who will oversee at least nine other schools.

For a $40,000 pay rise, the candidate will take on the role while continuing as principal of their present school.

The $359 million plan aims to raise student levels of achievement across the board primarily through collaboration between schools.

It is hoped full implementation will be complete by 2017. However none of the 11 principals North Taranaki Midweek or Taranaki Star spoke with were interested in applying for the role.

Furthermore, none of the principals knew of anyone who definitely wanted to apply for the role.

Every one expressed concern about the plan and most believed the money could be better spent.

Suggestions included investing in more teachers, smaller class sizes, teacher aides, special education, more qualified preschool teachers, and addressing social issues.

Many principals believed that the time spent being an executive principal would be detrimental to their own schools.

Normanby School principal Linda Jeffries responded on behalf of eight South Taranaki schools.

"The South Taranaki Principals' Cluster have listened to one side of the argument against IES.

"The implication of this policy may be detrimental to student welfare and the management of schools.

"We are inviting a Ministry of Education representative to speak with us so that our concerns can be answered."

New Plymouth Principals' Association president Roz Miller said the IES plan would be discussed at their next meeting at the start of term three.

"We aren't intending on having a Ministry of Education person speak at our meeting," she said.

"We have Karen Brisco, a New Zealand Principals Foundation member, and Sharren Read, of the New Zealand Education Institute Principals' Council, who will provide information for us."

Sharren Read, who is also the principal of Waitara Central School, said the implications of the executive principal role were huge and not generally positive.

"You would be expected to spend 160 days over two years working in a cluster of 10 schools - two days a week.

"What impact would that have on your school? I doubt that my board of trustees and community would be happy about this."

The person who gets the role would be appointed based on the success of their achievement data. There was no guarantee that one size fitted all, she said.

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Hawera High School principal Hans Konlechner said his commitment was to his own school first and he would not currently be interested in the role.

Hawera Christian School teaching principal Clare Rowan said principals in Hawera had always worked well together.

"We have been able to work on what best suits our local needs," Rowan said.

"Funds to support local initiatives or facilitate the existing cluster would be well used and circumvent bureaucracy."

Marfell Community School principal Janet Armstrong thinks the IES plan has missed the real problems.

"Unless the issues that affect student achievement outside education are addresse . . . you will still have students failing," she said.

"My interpretation is that the Government is saying that if we throw all this money at supposed ‘experts' coming along and show our educators how to do their job, our students will then start achieving.

"Well, someone needs to take the blinkers off those policy-makers."

Other principals who commented were from Matapu School, Auroa School, Devon Intermediate School, St Joseph's School New Plymouth, Frankley School and Vogeltown School.

The cluster response was on behalf of Hawera Christian, Hawera Primary, Tawhiti, Normanby, Turuturu, St Joseph's Kaponga, Mokoia, and Ramanui Primary Schools.

Watch "How the Government plans to spend $359 million" and "Responding to the new roles" videos on YouTube.

- Taranaki

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