Longstone's email to staff

Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone is holding a press conference at midday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone is holding a press conference at midday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Before today's public announcement of her resignation Lesley Longstone sent an email to staff explaining the reasons for her "extremely difficult'' decision.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today announced he had accepted the Secretary for Education and chief executive's decision to leave her role.

Before the decision was made public, she sent out the following email:

"Dear colleague, at noon today Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner, will be announcing my resignation from the position of Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education and Secretary for Education. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and one that I want you to understand.

2012 was, without doubt, a very challenging year for the ministry. The extent of change has been great and in more than a few cases, controversial. At the same time, we can look back proudly on a number of achievements that would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of so many talented people working here in the ministry. I know that so many of you have gone the extra mile and I am so grateful for the support I have had over the past year.

Just to re-cap some of those achievements: continuing increases in participation in early childhood education, the reporting to parents of National Standards data for the first time and continued improvement, particularly for our priority groups, in NCEA outcomes. The changes to the Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour service and the expansion of Positive Behaviour for Learning programmes offer real promise to some of our more needy learners and the development of the intensive wrap-around service offers new opportunities for children with special needs to be supported to learn in their home communities.

We have spoken out about the social inequity inherent in our education system and begun to re-focus the work of the Ministry and our support for ECE services, schools and other providers on those children and young people who are not realising their potential. The development of new pathways to support transitions from school to tertiary study or work is a very significant achievement. We have begun to build better links with communities, iwi and social sector agencies, to ensure that in focussing on these young people we bring everyone to the table that has a contribution to make. These are important foundations that will position us well to achieve the Government's Better Public Service goals for education and vulnerable children.

Internally, we have re-structured and appointed four new Regional Directors. We have established task forces to drive ahead on our key outcomes and are working ever closer with other agencies in the education sector as well as the wider social and economic sectors. I am very pleased to have made four new appointments to the Leadership Team, bringing in different areas of expertise to complement those of existing members and strengthening our leadership of the Ministry going forward. With our regional change programme in its early stages we are poised to make significant change to our service delivery model, designed to support better outcomes for learners and a more streamlined service offering for providers.

But despite our best endeavours, and I do really appreciate the efforts of those involved in these areas, not everything in 2012 has gone smoothly and there has been real disquiet relating to a range of issues including Budget 2012 proposals, Christchurch and Novopay. The accumulation of these and other things has led to deterioration in relationships with a number of important stakeholders. This isn't a sustainable position and following very careful thought and discussion, Iain and I have decided that the best interests of the ministry would be served by

the appointment of a new chief executive unencumbered by the difficulties of the past 6 months who is able to focus on, and re-build those relationships. I hope that you will see and embrace this as the opportunity it is. I will return from my Christmas break on 22 January and will continue in my role until 8 February next year when a new interim Chief Executive will be appointed.

All that really remains is for me to thank you for your support over the past year or so and to hope that you, like me, will find real peace in the Christmas season. I look forward to thanking as many of you as I can personally, before I depart and I hope you will welcome Peter in the same generous way as you welcomed me.''

Former Public Service chief executive Peter Hughes has been seconded as Acting Chief Executive and Secretary for Education, and will take up his role from 9 February.

- NZ Herald

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