Big Five may defy PPTA

By Sophie Ryan

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Angela Roberts, president of the Post Primary Teachers Association.
Angela Roberts, president of the Post Primary Teachers Association.

Whangarei's "big five" secondary schools are being asked to formalise a commitment to help the district's controversial new charter schools.

If they agree, their support would be in direct defiance of the teachers' union which has directed its members to not assist the new schools.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) believes the new charter schools would cost mainstream teaching jobs, as rolls would drop when children move to the new schools.

The Ministry of Education has written a draft memorandum of understanding to ensure smooth operations between the schools and the two partnership schools due to open next year.

The document is landing on the desks of the boards of trustees of Whangarei Boys' High School, Whangarei Girls' High School, Tikipunga High School, Kamo High School and Pompallier Catholic College for consultation at their final monthly meetings for the academic year.

It contains details of how the schools could potentially work with the partnership schools Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru and Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei te Renga Paraoa.

Sharing classes is one suggestion drafted in the memorandum.

Whangarei Girls' High School board of trustees chairwoman Sue Cresswell said the board had met on Monday night and decided against signing the memorandum.

"We will not be signing it in its present form," she said.

"There is not enough information from the ministry on the schools."

Tim Robinson, chairman of the Whangarei Boys' High School board of trustees, was due to examine the memorandum last night and would not be drawn on whether the board would be signing it or not.

However, he said he foresees a future where the board of trustees and the partnership school sponsors would work together.

"Collectively we all seem to be in one mind and that's working towards student achievement, especially Maori student achievement."

He said if the board did decide to sign the memorandum he would expect a response from the Post-Primary Teachers' Association, who have banned their members from interacting with employees of partnership schools in a professional capacity.

"I'm sure the PPTA will have a comment," he said.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said members of the union were due to be present at the Whangarei Boys' High School board of trustees meeting last night who would be challenging the board's intention to hold the consultation on the memorandum in a private committee.

"There are very clear rules on when the board can go in to committee and there will be members at the meeting challenging them to provide the legislation on it," Ms Roberts said.

"If the board does override and ignore the challenge we will be going to the ombudsman and seeking further support and advice."

The Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said Chris Saunders has been appointed as governance facilitator for the two partnership schools in Northland and had developed the memorandum.

Ms Casey said Mr Saunders drafted the memorandum to formalise the relationship between the "big five" and the partnership schools.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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