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Changes For Education Services Market Leader

Success Prompts Changes For Education Services Market Leader

Buoyant markets at home and overseas have boosted prospects for New Zealand’s largest education service provider, prompting changes and additions to its management team.

Multi Serve Education Trust this week announced the appointment of its Auckland-based Director of Educational Operations, Jo Mullins, to the newly created position of Director of Educational Operations, International. Mrs Mullins will operate out of the Auckland head office but is to be stationed primarily in the Middle East and South East Asia.

Terry Bates, former Regional Manager (Northern) at the Ministry of Education has meanwhile joined Multi Serve as its Director of Educational Operations, New Zealand.

A further senior appointee from the state sector, Mary Sinclair, is to join the Multi Serve team next month as Regional Manager of Educational Operations in Wellington, where she is currently the Ministry of Education’s Manager, Monitoring and Support.

“It’s a reflection of our success beyond New Zealand that Jo Mullins, one of our most respected team members and a distinguished former school principal, should now be concentrating her considerable abilities on growing and supplying our overseas market.

“Jo will now be free to concentrate wholly on a field where she has already made a very significant contribution,” says Multi Serve’s Chief Executive, Des Hammond.

“We are also expanding our role within New Zealand and will benefit greatly from having a senior figure such as Terry Bates wholly dedicated to leading our on-shore educational operations.

“We are delighted that Terry and Mary are both joining us from the Ministry of Education. They bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise, which will be of huge benefit both to Multi Serve and to the schools we assist,” he says, adding that partnership with the state sector has always been a crucial element in Multi Serve’s operations.

Other new appointments include Nadine Pereira, formerly Air New Zealand’s HR Manager Europe, who last month became Multi Serve’s Director of Human Resources and Carol McInnes, who took over this month as Manager Payroll Services.

Multi Serve Education Trust was founded in 1989 at a time when New Zealand’s education system was undergoing rapid decentralisation as part of the “Tomorrow’s Schools” reforms. A key Multi Serve role has been to provide schools with services they cannot easily supply for themselves, enabling them to concentrate on their essential work of teaching and learning.

Services offered by the Trust include professional development for school staff, training for Boards of Trustees and support in management, financial accounting, recruitment, curriculum development, assessment, payroll services and school transport management.

Overseas operations were boosted in January this year, when Multi Serve reached agreement with the State of Qatar to help up-grade and decentralise the oil-rich country’s education system.

Under Jo Mullins’ leadership, Multi Serve currently has a sixteen-strong team in Qatar, including a number of former school principals and other experienced New Zealand educators. The team is mentoring five Qatari schools through the transition to self-management and independence, providing input on infrastructure and administration, as well as recruiting and training teaching and other staff.

The organisation also provides educational advisory, quality assurance and ICT specialist services to schools in South East Asia and has provided consultancy services to assist in the decentralisation of education in the Southern African country of Lesotho.

“The success of our overseas operations reflects the depth of experience Multi Serve has gained through participation in New Zealand’s own educational reforms. No two countries have identical needs but the decentralised model is nevertheless proving extremely attractive globally. New Zealand’s approach is therefore of interest to education reformers worldwide.

“There’s also growing respect for the performance of New Zealand schools as reflected in recent comparative OECD studies. And there’s recognition that decentralised education systems benefit greatly from experienced and professional service providers drawn from the commercial sector,” says Des Hammond.

“The Middle East, in particular, offers huge potential for education service providers. Governments there are acutely conscious of the need to modernise education systems and prepare their populations for the time when oil may no longer provide so large and reliable an income source. And there are also significant opportunities provided by the buoyant economies of South East Asia,” he adds.

In New Zealand, an important current focus for Multi Serve is its contract with the Ministry of Education to help establish three new schools in Auckland. The Trust hopes that success with these schools will lead to further similar projects in the years ahead.

“Demographic growth means that there are approximately 40 new schools to be built in Auckland over the next five to ten years. We would certainly appreciate the opportunity to be involved with some of these,“ says Terry Bates, adding that Multi Serve’s role is to build an intellectual infrastructure for schools in tandem with the physical infrastructure created by partner construction companies.

“Buildings are important but it’s even more vital to ensure there’s a living breathing school awaiting students on the first day that doors open. Amongst other things, that means ensuring there’s a clear educational vision, robust governance systems, a principal and staff in place, as well as balanced budget estimates and a committed parent community looking forward to Board of Trustee elections,” he says.

Terry Bates adds that assisting existing school boards with organisational evaluation and development support is becoming another important focus for Multi Serve’s educational operations.

Multi Serve employs 140 staff and 40 independent consultants within New Zealand. Through a sub-contracting relationship with Datacom, the Trust is responsible for ensuring fortnightly salary payments to 25,000 teachers. In addition, Multi Serve recently renewed a transport contract with the Ministry of Education, whereby 40,000 students are transported daily to and from school.

Multi Serve is a charitable trust. The net surplus arising from its activities is used to benefit New Zealand’s schools.

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