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Labour's 'jobs for life' for principals

Dr Nick Smith

National Education Spokesperson

Thursday 28 September 2000

Labour's 'jobs for life' for principals another blow for standards

"Children's education and the taxpayer will lose out if the Government goes ahead with Trevor Mallard's proposal to scrap fixed term contracts for our 2700 principals," National Education spokesperson Nick Smith said today.

"Principals are the lynch-pin of success under Tomorrow's Schools. A good principal will have a school flying while children pay a heavy price for anything less.

"Abolishing fixed term contracts for principals will reduce the standard of school leadership by making it almost impossible to remove a non-performer.

"It also limits career prospects for young dynamic teachers who want to be principals and will add to the brain drain of our best and brightest overseas to where there are opportunities."

Fixed term contracts for primary and secondary school principals were introduced in 1998 with a term of eight years for existing principals and five years for new appointments. The contracts were part of an employment agreement where a 13% pay rise was agreed in compensation for the lesser level of job security.

"It has cost taxpayers $69 million to achieve fixed term contracts - and to surrender them is a scandal. It is totally unrealistic to expect principals to return the money or take a cut in salary.

"As Associate Finance Minister Trevor Mallard is being grossly irresponsible even contemplating wasting $69 million of past spending and a further $23 million each year in this way.

"This proposal is another blow for standards and parent decision making. It means our schools won't be lead by the best person and parents will have no choice about a change of principal. It follows a series of backward decisions like abolishing bulk funding, scrapping national testing, reintroducing rigid zoning and holding an axe over the Education Review Office's future. All of this reducing the power of parents. This Government is dancing perfectly to the tune of the teachers' unions without a thought for parents or excellence in education."


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