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Secondary union clutching at straws

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Secondary union clutching at straws says trustee organisation

The PPTA is clutching at straws in its attempts to discredit the Tomorrow’s Schools process, and is insulting trustees in the process.

That’s according to New Zealand School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr.

She criticised the union’s attempt today to use the financial crisis at Marlborough Boys College as a reason to support their desire for a review of New Zealand’s self governance education system.

“Many thousands of current and ex-trustees will be particularly insulted by the PPTA claim that ‘it is asking too much of parents and often it is more good luck than good management when boards do succeed’,”she says.

The facts of the matter are that the vast majority of boards do succeed in their governance role, and have done so now for just on 20 years, Lorraine Kerr says.

“The success of trusteeship is borne out by various research and from independent Education Review Office reviews.”

The PPTA comment is not surprising as the union has never been supportive of the Tomorrow’s Schools model simply because the union’s power to influence education is diluted by the community having a direct involvement in the running of New Zealand schools, she says.

“One point I can sympathise with is that the system does not currently serve or support boards of trustees well,” Lorraine Kerr says.

For example, the current level of government funding to support some 2,460 boards of trustees in their vital governance role totals only approx $4.5 million per annum, as against some $200 million per annum to professionally develop teachers, and from an overall compulsory education budget of some $5 billion per annum.

In addition to the lack of direct support, boards are increasingly being held to account for the successful running of the school, and for improved student outcomes, on an inadequate operations grant, she says.

“There is an urgent need to properly support boards of trustees in their vital role, and to ensure that boards’ operations grants are properly funded.”

Education in NZ would be far better served if the PPTA concentrated its efforts on better support for the community in the governance of schools, and in supporting efforts to improve teacher quality, which is after all, the biggest factor in improving student achievement, Lorraine Kerr says.


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