WBHS chief issues report

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Waitaki Boys’ High School’s employment practices are still an area of weakness, commissioner Nicola Hornsey says.

Mrs Hornsey, who was appointed commissioner at the school in October, released her progress report for February-March on Wednesday.

Mrs Hornsey has been working with the school and the wider community to fix serious problems. She was appointed by the Ministry of Education to govern the school in place of the board of trustees.

A “Scoping Report and Action Plan” was released by Mrs Hornsey in November, detailing areas that needed review and development.

These included pastoral care, employment practices, communication and public relations, financial management and reporting, and governance.

Her February-March progress report said the school could still improve its employment practices, which still took up a lot of time.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) human resources division team was continuing to review this area, the report said.

In pastoral care, the report said the Ministry of Education had identified a need for alternative education in Oamaru as something requiring attention.

The interaction of the school with the Ministry’s Attendance Services division, which works to reduce truancy, also needed attention, the report said.

Under communications and public relations, the report said the school had received both positive and negative media coverage after holding a drug detector dog exercise.

“A review of the process followed did find shortcomings on the part of the school. Significant time was expended responding to media inquiries and conducting the review.”

Financial management and reporting was expected to improve once an external provider was appointed to help analyse costs in detail, the report said.

In governance, an appraisal process was being introduced for the principal. Terms of reference for the farm committee were required, along with a financial management and reporting framework, the report said.

The school’s insurance cover and lease arrangements, including the use and management of Avoca House at Lake Middleton, had been reviewed, the report said.

A property register and a maintenance schedule and a five year property plan was being developed.

The Ministry of Education had asked for a meeting to discuss revisions of a school charter that was submitted on March 1. A governance-only meeting is being scheduled with the school’s auditors this month.