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School trustees tackling the tough issues

Media Release

School trustees tackling the tough issues

School boards of trustees are fronting up to deal with the tough issues of staff discipline and competence, latest figures on employment issues have revealed.

And to help prevent issues becoming serious employment issues, the New Zealand School Trustees Association is calling once again for a Ministry of Education funded board support service. This would provide more proactive support to boards, and complement NZSTA’s personnel/industrial relations advisory service.

General Manager Ray Newport says the summary of personnel and industrial employment issues tackled by boards in 1999 has just been released, and it paints a good picture.

“The number of cases handled by boards, with the assistance of NZSTA’s expert advisers, shows boards are willing to front up to situations within schools that could adversely impact on the students’ ability to learn.

“Now we need to look at further ways to help boards with these types of issues. The introduction of a support service which offers a more proactive approach for boards would be a step in the right direction.”

The total number of cases handled with the assistance of NZSTA has increased from 593 in 1998 to 715 in 1999.

Ray Newport says the biggest increase of cases was seen in issues falling under the “other” category, with an increase from 271 to 356. This category includes restructuring, amalgamation of schools, redundancies, redeployment, variation of hours at work, use of discretionary funding and other employer initiated reviews.

He says this increase is expected as there has been a greater focus on fixed-term contracts within the education sector. The increase can also be linked to the availability of a discretionary payment for principals, which can become an employment issue if the board decides against awarding it.

Ray Newport says the increase in this area further strengthens NZSTA’s call to the Ministry to fund a NZSTA board support service.


“There is clearly an increasing proportion of cases being handled that fall outside the areas of competency or disciplinary, and these cases would benefit from a more proactive approach.

“NZSTA’s current service performs a very good function but it operates largely on a reactionary basis. The Association sees a real need to provide early intervention for boards, which would be achieved with the introduction of the board support service.”

He says there is a strong argument to suggest that early intervention through a Government funded board support service will reduce the number of cases needing an industrial related solution.

“Some issues by their very nature will remain industrial, but a significant number of issues facing boards could be dealt with effectively through early intervention. The ability to head off an issue at an early stage is far preferable to having to adopt industrial solutions -- we want the fence at the top of the cliff.”

Of the total 751 cases, the vast majority was resolved at the school level, with only a handful needing to proceed to the Employment Tribunal for mediation.


[ends]

For more information contact Ray Newport.
Phone: (04) 473 4955 or 025 449 629


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