Ministry to intervene at WBHS

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The Ministry of Education will reveal on Monday night at a meeting with the Waitaki Boys’ High School board of trustees how the school will be governed in the immediate future.

The decision of statutory intervention has come about after it was decided there was a lack of confidence in the governance of the school.

Oamaru businessman and former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay and former John McGlashan principal Mike Corkery were asked by the school’s board of trustees to put together an additional report following on from the findings of education consultant Cleave Hay.

Board of Trustees chairman Garry McLeod said it was disappointing that the only copy of the report the board received was leaked to the Otago Daily Times on Tuesday.

“There was only one copy of the report and the board are very disappointed it had been leaked.”

Mr McLeod said despite the leak, they were continuing to work through everything and would continue to support the rector, Paul Jackson.

“We have our full support behind the rector and will continue to do so.

“We have supported him since the start and nothing is going to change,” he said.

Numbers at the school have been dwindling slowly, but Mr McLeod said this was not due to what was happening with the school.

“Numbers of pupils coming to the school are smaller because there are less schools feeding them to us.”

The board will continue to work alongside the rector.

“We’ve explored all options available to us.”

Katrina Casey, head of sector enablement and support for the Ministry of Education, said the ministry had to intervene.

“The latest report concludes that the governance of the school is a key part of its problems,” she said.

“We want to ensure that Waitaki Boys’ once more becomes a positive environment for students and teachers.

“Accordingly, we will be intervening at the school.”

The two options are a limited statutory manager, in which the board of trustees remains, but specific governance responsibilities of the board are delegated to an appointee. The second option is that the ministry appoints a commissioner, who will replace the board of trustees and take over responsibility for governing the school on behalf of the Crown, Ms Casey said.

She said the time was right to intervene.

“We have always been clear that the end of September was a critical time before which we expected considerable progress to have been made addressing the issues. We have also been clear all along that this is when we would be considering if an intervention was needed and if it was, what type,” Ms Casey said.

Mr McLay was asked, along with Mr Corkery, to produce a report after 32 hours of interviews, phone calls,emails, letters and contact from former staff members, which further outlined the issues at Waitaki Boys’.

Mr Corkery, who helped with the latest report over a four-week period, said he was concerned the report was leaked.

“There was only one hard copy of it made and that was given to the board of trustees. Otherwise, it’s on my computer but I absolutely didn’t leak it.”

Waitaki Boys’ High School Old Boys’ Association president Derek Austin was unavailable for comment.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY