Over­sight for Mana

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.’’

Colonel Glenn King gets plenty of sup­port from his ques­tion, ‘‘Who wants to join the army?’’

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