Northland principals are being schooled up on business by experts in the private and public sectors.

This year, 12 local principals are taking part in Strategic Leadership for Principals (SLPP) - a free, year-long professional development programme that sees them matched with a senior business person who provides guidance in strategic leadership.

The ASB-sponsored Springboard Trust which runs the scheme was invited to engage with Northland schools by Eru Lyndon, the Commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in 2013.

Last year, six Northland principals took part.


Otaika Valley School principal Terry Brock said participation had proven valuable and he encouraged all leaders in the educational sector to take part.

"I'd been a principal for five years when I started in the SLPP programme. It was perfect timing for me as I was looking for further professional leadership to develop my school, and assurance in my role as principal," Mr Brock said.

"I learned a lot from being partnered with other principals in the area. ... We became a support network, discussing certain situations, what worked for some schools, and what didn't.

"The modules and seminars didn't tell us how to improve but provided the tools and frameworks to figure it out ourselves."

Mr Brock was partnered with ASB senior commercial manager Fiona Morgan as his mentor.

"Fiona provided space for me to speak confidentially, discuss strengths and weaknesses of my management style, and she gave me valuable and productive feedback on workshop content and helped me look at management situations from a different perspective," he said.

Ms Morgan said that when she was asked to be involved in the SLPP, she wasn't sure how her experience in the private sector could help in education but was willing to give it a go.

"I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed my role, and I actually learnt a lot, too," Ms Morgan said. "The parallels between the business environment and the education sector are fascinating. I am thankful to ASB for supporting and encouraging me in my role with the SLPP."

Over the past eight years the Springboard programme has matched 22 mentors with principals, including Marilyn Dunn, Ruakaka School principal.

Ms Dunn said: "This has completely changed the way I see our school. I can now see the wood for the trees and see clearly the future direction.

"It has lined everything up so that we can focus on the aspects of our school that make us what we are."