Oversight for Mana
A statutory manager has taken control of Mana College to address a plummeting roll, poor financial management and a lack of direction among staff and students.
Helena Barwick, formerly statutory manager of Porirua School in Elsdon and Naenae’s Kimi Ora School, was installed at Mana by the Ministry of Education on March 12, at the request of its board of trustees.
She was expected to remain until at least 2017, ministry head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.
‘‘We will monitor progress at the college and expect the board will be reinstated with its full powers over the next two years or so,’’ Casey said.
Mana College’s academic, leadership and financial performance was criticised in an Education Review Office report last September.
The board decided to ask for support before it was involuntarily imposed, board chairman Chris Toa said.
Asking for help also lessened the school’s share of payment for statutory management, which was an important consideration for a school struggling financially.
Since 1989, Mana’s roll has fallen from 777 to 373.
Barwick said that on a much reduced income from school fees, the school was struggling to maintain buildings no longer used.
To reduce costs and save teaching staff, back-office administrators had been let go, which led to oldfashioned and inefficient budgeting and management.
‘‘Current resources are not as well managed as they could be. ‘‘There hasn’t been the eyes on it.’’ Mana’s roll had fallen, partly because of a trend for Porirua students to attend colleges outside the city, and because demographic change meant fewer children now lived in the area.
However, Mana’s reputation had also declined, Barwick said.
‘‘There’s an element of people not being convinced that Mana is providing what students need.’’
Staff and students were getting insufficient oversight, and information was not always reaching the school’s board, she said.
‘‘My impression at Mana is of a lot of people working hard, but without a clear and solid direction for the students.
‘‘In situations where people feel a bit beleaguered, it is common to just keep trying to do what you do as well as you can, without stepping back and thinking, ‘ Am I putting my energy into the right place?’’’
There was no plan to replace principal Mike Webster or any staff, but they would be held to greater accountability now, Barwick said.
‘‘Part of it is about winning hearts and minds, but I think that’s done.
‘‘The bigger part is about getting in the systems we need and making it really clear what we expect.’’
To save costs, one of Mana’s blocks had already been shuttered and removed, and another would be taken by the ministry, Barwick said.
Statutory management at Mana would hopefully kickstart a discussion about Porirua’s colleges working together for the good of all students, Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said.
‘‘The sustainability of secondary education as it’s currently provided in Porirua is obviously up for discussion,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s not about one school versus another school. It’s about how we lift education in Porirua.’’
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