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Remove the noose of creeping centralism - NZSTA


Media Release


Remove the noose of creeping centralism --
Trustees on Education Bill

New Zealand School Trustees Association says that key elements of self-governance/self-management of schools could potentially be lost under proposals outlined in the Education Amendment Bill.

NZSTA President Chris France says the combination of the removal of charters, prescriptive school planning and reporting proposals as proposed as in the bill has the distinct appearance of creeping centralism.

NZSTA presented its submission today on the Bill to the Education and Science Select Committee, on behalf of 2,400 boards of trustees.

The submission emphasised the importance of the charter as tangible evidence of the partnership between government and boards. It highlighted member’s concerns at the potentially lethal combination of highly prescriptive planning and reporting combined with dollops of ministerial discretion.

Chris France says no one will argue about the need for high quality, consistent planning and reporting, but in providing for this it is critical to maintain the sanctity of self-governance and self-management.

“School communities have willingly embraced the concept of local school governance, as evidenced by every school again attracting sufficient nominations to form a school board in the current elections. It is critically important that this trust in the partnership with government is not weakened or breached in any way.”

Chris France says he has yet to come across a board or principal who wants to return to a highly prescriptive environment.

“The commitment of the community and principals to the responsibilities of running their school is founded around significant degrees of freedom to reflect the communities wishes. Any return to a more centralist approach will place current enthusiasm in danger.”

NZSTA supports the formation of the Education Council, but has some concerns relating to the potential confusion between employment related provisions and provisions that impinge on registration. It also raised concerns about the proposed ability for the public to complain about a teacher directly to the Education Council.

“The board of trustees is the employer of the staff of the school and in all cases, any complaints against an employee, be they relating to disciplinary or competence, must always be to the board in the first instance,” says Chris France.

“Any attempt to circumvent the normal practice of the employer investigating complaints against employees, and taking any necessary disciplinary or incompetency action is a recipe for disaster.”

NZSTA recognises that the Bill is a critical piece of legislation that will set the way forward for the future. While the general intent of the Bill is supported, it is important that the integrity of the self-governance/management model is not comprised or undermined.

[ends]

For more information contact:
President Chris France (025) 441-397.
General Manager Ray Newport (04) 471-6414.

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