Novopay last straw

22:23, Feb 19 2013
Sue Graham

Sefton School will lose its highly experienced principal on Friday - thanks in part to the ongoing Novopay debacle.

Sue Graham has more than 30 years' experience in the education sector, as a teacher, principal and adviser.

She has been principal of Sefton School for the last six years, but will leave all that behind her on Monday, when she begins her new role as a professional develop- ment adviser at the University of Canterbury.

Government policies, and the way they have been implemented, have made it increasingly difficult for her to do her job - leading the teaching and learning at her school - she says.

Being forced to spend at least 10 hours a week trying to sort out the pay errors caused by the Novopay system, implemented last year, was the "nail in the coffin".

"With Novopay, you feel quite powerless. You fill in the duplicate forms, but they are so far behind in addressing them, anything put in in September, October and November is not resolved."


Ms Graham said it was surprising to her how long it took for the Government to recognise the problem.

"OK, Steven Joyce has stepped up now, but that was after six months of problems."

The Novopay issues were just one more obstacle taking her away from her real job, she says.

Other frustrations have included the way the national standards were rolled out, the focus on increased class sizes, the closing of residential schools and this week's restructure of Christchurch schools - all of which she says have not been based on solid research.

"I am highly frustrated and sometimes angry about it, because change is good; but it's not, when it seems to be like an out-of- control rollercoaster and there doesn't seem to be any vision . . ."

She says her experience has been better than that of other principals, who are now grappling with closures or mergers.

While she accepts the need for rationalisation of Christchurch schools, she says the process the Government has chosen to implement is questionable.

"I am hugely concerned at the direction we're going in. I sincerely hope we haven't been in an experiment that has gone terribly wrong."

The erosion of trust in the education sector would be difficult for the Government to repair, she said, but teachers are good at being open-minded and making the best of what they have.

The Press