Claims of meddling made over poll

By Sonya Bateson

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Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association. Photo / John Borren
Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association. Photo / John Borren

A survey sent to local board of trustees members by the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association has ignited claims of interference by the national school trustees association.

Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association sent out a survey to all local boards of trustees about the Government's controversial Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy, which includes giving select high-performing teachers and principals a salary boost to work in mentoring roles in other schools.

Upon learning of the survey, New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) president Lorraine Kerr sent out an email, which was obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times, asking members not to respond to the survey as it was "either forged out of some ignorance, or knowingly manipulative".

"It is of concern that principal's groups feel they can interfere with other group's memberships when they choose to," the message read.

Dane Robertson, president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, said the group was trying to find out if board members shared any of principal's concerns about IES.

"The association is well aware that it is not the representative of boards, we just would like to hear what boards really think about the IES as it currently stands."

Mr Robertson said about half of all board members had responded to the survey by Friday.

Ninety-seven per cent of those respondents said they did not support the IES initiative in its current form.

Mr Robertson said the survey was designed with the idea in mind of working together with all stake holders to ensure the IES policy was implemented successfully.

"If the boards responses differ from a lot of what I have heard from principals and teachers, then so be it. This means that NZSTA is doing a fantastic job of representing their members. "If, however, the collective voice of the boards differs from NZSTA, surely they would like to know."

Angela Hayden, chairwoman of the Bay of Plenty branch of NZSTA and Papamoa College board of trustees, said the principals association was not the representative organisation for boards of trustees and it had no business surveying them.

She said NZSTA had the support of its membership to participate in the development of IES. Mrs Hayden said ultimately it would be the board's decision whether or not to participate in a community of schools.

"If principals feel strongly about this they, just like all other board members, have the right to bring their views to the board table but ultimately the decision will, or should, be a collective one for each school board."

NZEI immediate past president Ian Leckie said the principals association did the correct thing by asking not only the local principals but their schools' representatives to share their views so the body could take an informed stance.

"I think the association is quite proper to gauge its position by gathering not just principals' feedback but those associated with the schools.

Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy

• The Government has set aside $359 million over the next four years for
developing new collaborative teacher and principal roles to raise student achievement.

• Fifty per cent of the $359 million cost of the package over four years goes on extra teacher and principal salaries associated with four new roles.

• The roles will use expert teachers and experienced principals in mentoring and support roles through clusters of about 10 schools to create a "community of schools".

Questions the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association asked their boards of trustees

• Do you as a BOT support the IES initiative in the current form?

• Do you as a BOT feel the implementation of IES should be delayed?

• Do you as a BOT feel the $359 million could be allocated to higher priorities in education?

- Bay of Plenty Times

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