The Ministry of Education has appointed a statutory manager to a Helensville school after a request for help from its board of trustees.

Terry Bates, the founding principal of Southern Cross Campus in Māngere and later chief executive of the global consulting firm Cognition Education, has been appointed as the Limited Statutory Manager at Helensville Primary School.

Board chair Nicola Keen-Biggelaar said Bates would assist the board in its responsibilities in personnel, wellbeing and finance.

"He has a real depth of experience and it will add enormous value to the school," she said.

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Keen-Biggelaar said the move was in partnership with the Ministry of Education, whom the board had been in touch with "for some time".

Terry Bates has been appointed as Limited Statutory Manager at Helensville Primary School by the Ministry of Education. Photo / Martin Sykes
Terry Bates has been appointed as Limited Statutory Manager at Helensville Primary School by the Ministry of Education. Photo / Martin Sykes

A letter to the school community in early December said the school's principal, Deborah Heasman, was on sick leave until the end of the school year.

She is expected to return in the new year, Keen-Biggelaar said.

Helensville Primary School made headlines in October last year after an investigation by two parents uncovered what they called "a systematic failure" to ensure schoolchildren were safe under the Vulnerable Children's Act.

Parents Rachel and Regan Cunliffe discovered that their local primary did not have a formal child protection policy, after the school allowed another parent to go on a school camp even though the Cunliffe's son, who was also due to go to the camp, was afraid of him.

The Cunliffes later found that 84 schools, or 3 per cent of the country's schools did not have child protection policies and a further 599 schools either refused to answer if they did, or did not respond.

Their son left Helensville Primary school last year.

When contacted by the Herald, Rachel Cunliffe said she was unable to comment as she and her husband were involved in a further investigation with the school.

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In May this year a boy was sent home from the primary school for not wearing enough pink on an anti-bullying day.

Bates is expected to be on-site at the school while he assesses the situation, but it is unclear how long he will be assisting the school, Keen-Biggelaar said.

A statement released to the school community said Bates will begin his work by undertaking a "scoping exercise" to determine the best support to offer the board, staff, school community and students.