Former Waitaki Boys' teacher backs report

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 17:20 12/08/2014
Graham Kitchin
DANIEL BIRCHFIELD/FAIRFAX NZ
NO SURPRISES: Former Waitaki Boys' High School teacher Graham Kitchin says the report is worrying.

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A former Waitaki Boys' High School (WBHS) teacher ''wasn't surprised'' by concerns outlined in a report investigating issues at the school.

An edited report, compiled by educational consultant Cleave Hay, was released by the school's board of trustees on Friday recommending steps required to rectify the issues raised.

Graham Kitchin, who taught at the school for 38 years before leaving in 2012, said the report was ''worrying''.

''I left because I was convinced things weren't going to get better and they haven't,'' he said.

''I wasn't surprised by any of the major concerns... I think it's a great shame the board hadn't recognised a lot earlier what some of these problems were... it's not just me who thinks that.''

Kitchin doesn't have confidence in the school's current board members and believes they should resign.

''I think at this stage it's probably the answer unfortunately.''

He hoped a visit from the Education Review Office, which arrived at the school on Monday, would help.

''I think there's been a pretty far-reaching report produced... the ministry have got a close eye on it, so hopefully the outcome from that will be that the situation is resolved. The sooner the better.''

In his report, Hay was critical of the school's board:

''In my opinion WBHS is certainly at point of crisis and needs immediate and comprehensive commitment to rectifying a number of significant risks.

''The board of trustees ... must take the leadership role of alleviating the serious concerns contained in this report. If these are left unattended there is a very high likelihood of seriously negative affects in student achievement, student welfare, staff welfare, staff turnover, plus health and safety complaints and personal grievances. The school's reputation and roll numbers are also seriously at risk.''

While the board ''took issue'' with some aspects, board chairman Garry McLeod said it was taking Hay's recommendations ''very seriously'' and was ''acting on them accordingly''.

The nine recommendations for the board were to investigate all reported matters, conduct reviews of all school-based systems, employment processes, staff welfare, student welfare, conduct exit interviews with staff who have left in the past 12 months, a full review of governance practices and the performance of the board and complete and satisfactory processing of all formal complaints.

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- The Timaru Herald

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