For Christchurch Girls' High, one chapter closes and one opens

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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OPINION: The permanent return of Prue Taylor as principal of Christchurch Girls' High School (CGHS) will be welcomed by many people, including those not directly connected to the school's community. Her dismissal was strongly opposed by a seemingly large majority of parents and pupils and wider Christchurch was troubled, such is the outstanding reputation of Taylor and the school.

CGHS is one of the outstanding schools in the city, offering quality education and with a list of distinguished graduates. Its performance contributes to Christchurch's performance, and the principal was widely credited with upholding high standards. Her dismissal, therefore, was significant news.

As the dismissal unravelled, because of the board of trustees' mishandling of the case, it became plain that a clean end to the dispute was unlikely, even when the principal won temporary reinstatement.

In a productive development this week, the board and principal reached agreement about the way to proceed after resolving all matters between them, and her reinstatement was made permanent, but the potential for continuing strain between the board and principal remains.

The clash seems to be partly a matter of personalities, a matter difficult to resolve whatever the good intentions of those involved. Sound relationships depend on mutual trust and goodwill, qualities that will be hard to re-establish at the school.

The next election of trustees might put things right, with the prospects poor that the existing trustees will retain their positions. In the interim, Taylor will need to exercise her strengths of character and administration to overcome a bitter past.

Unfortunately, pupils and parents still do not know the issues that led to the dismissal or the details of the pact that led to it being permanently reversed, and that will not help lift the mood of the school.

Had the board been more open from the beginning of the dispute, it would probably not have developed so disastrously. The board, instead of being seen to act without justification, might have been seen to be acting in the best interests of the school. Speculation would have been curtailed and the anger born of lack of information lessened.

Even if Taylor can put the dispute in the past, she will still face challenges. Some of her staff are apparently dissatisfied with her performance and the Education Review Office has identified faults in administration that must be put right.

However, Taylor deserves congratulation on regaining her post. The tenacity and grace she has displayed in testing circumstances show why she is popular with so many.

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Christchurch will wish her well in her relaunched career.

- The Press

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