School plan ‘unworkable’

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“It is believed that the new policy will do little, if anything, to raise student achievement.” – John Prescott

A $360 million project to fund a new management structure within school communities has been met with disapproval from the majority of principals around North Otago.

John Prescott, president of the North Otago Principals’ Association, said The Investing in Educational Success policy announced by Prime Minister John Key earlier this year “does not find favour” with primary principals and teachers locally and nationally.

The policy features a sharing of information between communities of schools led by an executive principal and expert teachers in order to raise student achievement. These teachers would be out of their own school for two days per week.

The position of lead teacher would also be created and this person would stay in their own school. A change principal would be available to help other schools that were having problems, such as financial troubles or issues around student achievement.

Mr Prescott said the idea was fraught with difficulties and was unworkable in its current format.

At a recent meeting in Wellington, 69 of the 73 regional principal representatives gave an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the policy.

“It is believed that the new policy will do little, if anything, to raise student achievement.”

Mr Prescott said Minister Hekia Parata informed principals that it was going to happen with or without them.

“This is hardly consultation,” he said.

“Even now, the consultation within the working party is shrouded in secrecy, leading to an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.”

Executive principals and expert teachers being out of their school for two days per week would not be a popular solution.

“Boards, parents, teachers and students are unlikely to be happy if the availability of their school’s leadership is to be watered down in their own school,” Mr Prescott said.

“To be workable, the policy relies on the availability of relievers, which in the North Otago region is minimal at best and will cause organisational issues in school.

“It is very rare that a professional body would say no to so much money and the fact that so many educators are saying exactly that should send alarm bells ringing.

“As principals battle on a day-to-day basis to source funds to support learning in their schools, it highlights the fact that this money would be better focused on directly supporting the children who need it.

“Providing more support through RTLB, reading recovery, special education, specialists and teacher aides will directly improve student achievement.”

By LINDA MCCARTHY