ERO re­port crit­i­cal of col­lege prin­ci­pal

The Southland Times - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD DAVISON

The lat­est gov­ern­men­tal re­port on Aparima Col­lege has slammed the school’s prin­ci­pal, in­di­cat­ing ‘‘ur­gent’’ im­prove­ment in lead­er­ship is re­quired.

The River­ton, South­land sec­ondary school, with a de­clin­ing roll of 183 stu­dents, hit the head­lines back in 2014 when the board of trustees’ par­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­signed en masse, lead­ing to a Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sioner be­ing ap­pointed in Septem­ber of that year.

In a state­ment at the time, ex-board chair­per­son Kere Men­zies said the par­ents de­cided they were un­able to con­tinue be­cause of a ‘‘break­down be­tween the board and school man­age­ment’’.

An ERO re­port pub­lished in May 2015 iden­ti­fied the res­o­lu­tion of ‘‘on­go­ing is­sues with lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance’’ as key to fos­ter­ing suc­cess at the school.

How­ever, the lat­est ERO re­port re­leased late last month was even more ex­plicit, stat­ing, ‘‘The prin­ci­pal is not pro­vid­ing con­sis­tent, co­her­ent, ef­fec­tive and sus­tained pro­fes­sional lead­er­ship. Sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of the prin­ci­pal’s pro­fes­sional lead­er­ship is ur­gently needed.’’

Aparima prin­ci­pal Kaye Day de­clined to com­ment when con­tacted yes­ter­day, say­ing she couldn’t com­ment on em­ploy­ment mat­ters.

Staff at the col­lege were equally re­luc­tant to speak up but did in­di­cate that Day would not be back at work un­til the sec­ond week of term due to ‘‘spe­cial leave’’.

Some par­ents and for­mer stu­dents of the col­lege have taken to so­cial me­dia to vent their dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

River­ton mother-of-five and mem­ber of the board of trustees that re­signed in 2014, Maria Sea­ger, said she didn’t be­lieve sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments had been made at the col­lege in the nearly three years.

‘‘Ev­ery­body wants the col­lege to suc- ceed and for their chil­dren to go to a lo­cal school.

‘‘At this stage, I hope for my youngest to go to Aparima as well but af­ter two dis­mal ERO re­ports have high­lighted ex­actly the area that needs to change without progress be­ing made, you just don’t know.’’

Com­mis­sioner Ni­cola Hornsey was work­ing hard to re­solve a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, Sea­ger said.

‘‘I feel the com­mis­sioner has been put in a very tricky po­si­tion and worked dili­gently, given her lim­i­ta­tions.

‘‘I just don’t feel enough has been achieved for change in the school yet.’’

Hornsey agreed the lat­est ERO re­port was ‘‘fair’’.

‘‘ERO have iden­ti­fied one of the key is­sues as man­age­ment, and that’s some­thing we’ve worked hard to im­prove and will con­tinue to do so for as long as re­quired un­der the terms of the min­istry in­ter­ven­tion,’’ she said.

She en­cour­aged con­cerned par­ents and other com­mu­nity stake­hold­ers to con­tact her through her lat­est an­nual ques­tion­naire.

‘‘I’ve re­cently ex­tended the clos­ing date for the ques­tion­naire un­til the fourth week of term, and we’ve had about eight com­pleted so far.

‘‘It’s al­ways the case that fam­i­lies know their chil­dren best in terms of what’s go­ing on for them at school, and what they want in place for them to be able to suc­ceed, so the more that re­spond the bet­ter.’’

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion would re­view the need for con­tin­ued in­ter­ven­tion at the col­lege next month, Hornsey said.

‘‘Un­der­stand­ably they’re very cau­tious in a sit­u­a­tion like this, so my feel­ing is there will con­tinue to be a com­mis­sioner ap­pointed for the com­ing year.

‘‘Whether that’s me, or some­body else, we’ll have to wait and see,’’ Hornsey said.

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