What more can a prin­ci­pal do?


Par­ents, are your chil­dren lazy, dis­rup­tive in class,into trou­ble, even into crime? Well, now you have a new can­di­date to blame. Stop ac­cus­ing the teach­ers. You can now blame the prin­ci­pal. And it works. Just ask Tim Foy, school prin­ci­pal at Huntly College.

The suits in Welling­ton have lost com­plete con­fi­dence in Foy who has been at the college for 13 years. Ap­par­ently Foy’s crime was a poor record of stu­dent achieve­ment. He wasn’t ‘‘ac­cel­er­at­ing stu­dent progress’’ suf­fi­ciently, ac­cord­ing to the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry re­port, and we all know that ac­cel­er­a­tion is what mat­ters.

Yes, Foy has failed in the ac­cel­er­a­tion stakes and been un­suc­cess­ful in rais­ing the stan­dard of pass grades at the college and that’s enough to earn him the chop. It’s Foy’s fault that


the pupils are bad learn­ers and have not come up to the mark. And it is marks that count in this new world of NCEA pass rates.

Num­bers are all that mat­ters and they can be eas­ily counted by the bean coun­ters who’ve never set foot in a class­room.

Ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­pal, he gave his all, 24/7, in a low-decile school, even to the ex­tent of sup­port­ing, tellingly, stu­dents in Youth Court. But that wasn’t good enough and doesn’t count with those who can only count beans.

Nor was the fact that this man put up his own money ($500) as re­ward to catch thieves who had re­peat­edly stolen from the school, the most re­cent be­ing the theft of 18 moun­tain bikes, re­place­ment for oth­ers stolen ear­lier in the year.

Stu­dents used the bikes for sport to gain NCEA cred­its. Maybe that’s why the ‘‘ac­cel­er­a­tion’’ rate was down.

No ex­cuse, ac­cord­ing to the Ed­u­ca­tion Re­view Of­fice (ERO). Nor was the fact that the school had to spend a pre­cious $20,000 just fix­ing up van­dal­ism this year alone, money that could have gone into ed­u­ca­tional re­sources.

I can’t imag­ine many prospec­tive prin­ci­pals lin­ing up for Mr Foy’s job.

But I can imag­ine that prin­ci­pals in the Waikato will be sweat­ing a lit­tle more pro­fusely un­der their col­lars now and driv­ing teach­ers even harder in a world where ed­u­ca­tion has be­come all about grades and pass rates. They’ve be­come the be-al­land-end-all in ed­u­ca­tion cir­cles and the proof of that is the fact that they have started pub­lish­ing them.

It’s not sur­pris­ing then that there is a cri­sis in the teach­ing pro­fes­sion with fewer in­di­vid­u­als want­ing to take up the man­tle of teacher. There are even jokes do­ing the rounds about teach­ers be­com­ing en­dan­gered species and need­ing DOC in­ter­ven­tion. Who’d want a job where your boss is breath­ing down your neck day and night, scream­ing ‘‘MORE GRADES!’’ ‘‘BET­TER!’’ ‘‘FASTER!’’ be­cause his/her job is on the line over num­bers?

It breeds toxic en­vi­ron­ments which are ul­ti­mately coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Here’s what you had to say on Face­book about Huntly College’s idea to build ship­ping con­tainer homes. Theresa Ran­gir­ereata: How cool !! Cant wait to see the end re­sult Email let­ters to ni­cola.bren­nan@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

For­mer Huntly College prin­ci­pal Tim Foy.

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