A number of Western Bay schools are resisting becoming part of a "community of schools" because the Ministry of Education's model lacks flexibility, they say.

The first stage of the $359 million Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy, part of which involves paying certain teachers and principals a bigger salary to take on new management and leadership roles, has begun to be rolled out.

Ministry acting deputy secretary for student achievement Lesley Hoskin said the first 11 communities of schools have been approved by the minister. None were in the Western Bay of Plenty, although 53 schools in the combined Bay of Plenty and Taupo regions had filed expressions of interest in forming a community of schools.

Ms Hoskin said the aim of IES was to raise the quality of teaching and leadership by providing a new way for schools to work together and share their best ideas and skills to tackle shared achievement challenges.


The ministry is working with the education sector to finalise the design

Jan Tinetti, principal of Merivale School, said she did not know of any other schools that were keen to become part of a community of schools. Ms Tinetti's main concern about the community of schools policy was the lack of flexibility with the "top down" structure.

If a more flexible model were created, Ms Tinetti said she would take another look.

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell said he and other schools in the Otumoetai "cluster" had considered forming a community of schools.

The college, Otumoetai Intermediate and six primary schools had formed their cluster about four or five years ago and under this, had made inroads into lifting student achievement.

"We did a whole thing with reading in our schools. We had a couple of principals from the local schools get together and talk about why we needed to get our students to do basic grammar, not as a criticism but to see what we all could do about it."

Mr Randell liked the idea of the school communities because each school had its strengths.

Still firmly against the idea is Ian Leckie, principal of Tahatai Coast School. "I strongly support the view there are better ways to spend $359 million. Most are a lot better than paying a few teachers a lot of extra money for a short period of time."


Te Puke Intermediate principal Jill Weldon said her school had been working with Te Puke Primary, Te Puke High School and Fairhaven School for years to address their joint challenges.

"When the ministry asked for expressions of interest, we said yes, we're interested in having some dialogue to see if their model can match what we are doing. We haven't moved any further towards it because of the lack of flexibility."

Dane Robertson, Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president and Kaimai School principal, said a lot of principals in the region already got together to discuss what was happening in their schools and work together for better achievement of students.

Greenpark School principal Graeme Lind said there were better ways to spend $359 million.