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Another chance for kids - Whangaruru school decision

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Education
24 July 2015

Embargoed, including attachments, until 1pm, 24 July 2015

Media Statement
Another chance for kids

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she has given Te Pumanawa o te Wairua in Northland a chance to continue operating because of her concerns about finding other educational opportunities for its students.

Her decision follows a special audit of the Whangaruru school which raised issues about its financial performance, administration and governance.

Ms Parata says the audit findings provided grounds to terminate the partnership agreement with the school, but she has opted not to do so because of her concerns about the school’s students.

“At the heart of this are 39 vulnerable young people whose future prospects will be greatly enhanced by gaining educational qualifications. Many face particular challenges and have been excluded from other schools. Keeping them in school and learning is in their best interests and the best interests of the wider community. That is why I have decided to give the new Board a chance to show it can make a difference to the lives of kids who otherwise face a bleak future.

“Since I issued a performance notice in February a number of steps have been taken to rectify shortcomings and overcome concerns. Those include: appointing a new chair, disestablishing two school management positions and replacing them with an experienced and highly regarded principal, reviewing policies and procedures, and gaining the support of key local leaders.

“However, those measures still do not go far enough. Therefore, in return for my agreement to keep the school open for the remainder of the year, the Board has agreed to:

• work with the Ministry to secure the kura’s new education leader

• appoint one or more trustees nominated by me, at least one of whom must have an education focus; and

• appoint a trustee with a recognised financial and business background.

“If the Board had not agreed to those changes, I would have issued it with a notice to terminate the agreement when I met with it in Whangarei just under three weeks ago.”

Ms Parata says the school’s long-term future has not been resolved.

“I have not given the Board any guarantees. Another audit will be conducted in October and I have told the Board I will consider the school’s future after I have received the audit.

“The Board also knows that I reserve the right to terminate the agreement sooner if I am not satisfied the students are being provided with the standard of education they need and deserve.

“To assist the school to address the issues identified in the Special Audit, I have agreed to its request for up to an additional $129,000 this school year for the extra costs associated with implementing its remedial plan.

“To ensure that there is full transparency about the issues and what has happened to date, I am releasing further reports on the school today.

“Finally, I want to thank the new Board and management for the effort that has been put into developing the remedial plan in a short space of time and for their commitment to improving the lives of these young people.”

Attachments (embargoed until 1pm, 24 July 2015):

Special Audit Report 150528_WhangaruruSpecialAuditReport.pdf

Special Audit Findings 150528_WhangaruruSpecialAuditFindings.pdf

Remedial Plan Advice 150723_WhangaruruRemedialPlanAdvice.pdf

Remedial Plan 150717_WhangaruruRemedialPlan.pdf

Further Advice 150715_FurtherAdviceWhangaruru.pdf

Letter to the Trust 150723_LETTER_Minister_to_Trust.pdf

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