Otago schools appear to be
getting better at recognising potential education-harming
issues and getting help before they require intervention by
the Ministry of Education.
The latest ministry figures show the number of interventions
in Otago schools during 2013 has dropped to five - its lowest
level in five years.
And for the first time in several years, the ministry did not
intervene in the operations of any Otago secondary schools.
Ministry of Education enablement and support sector head
Katrina Casey said under the Education Act 1989, the ministry
could intervene in the management of a school when it
believed there was risk to the operation of the school, or
the welfare or educational performance of the pupils.
There were three levels of intervention, she said.
A commissioner could be appointed to replace a board of
trustees; a limited statutory manager may take on some, but
not all of a board's roles and responsibilities while the
board remains in place; and a specialist adviser could be
appointed to provide advice to a board in a particular area
During 2013, limited statutory managers were in operation at
Clutha Valley School, Omarama School and Te Kura Kaupapa
Maori o Otepoti, to deal with employment issues.
A commissioner was appointed at Totara School, following the
resignation of its board of trustees and principal.
A specialist adviser was also working at Pembroke School, to
advise its board of trustees on organisation and management.
In 2012, the ministry intervened twice to assist Otago
schools, but only once in 2013.
Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Mason
Stretch said it appeared schools were getting better at
recognising problems and getting help before they boiled over
and required a ministry intervention.
It was also pleasing to see secondary schools so settled in
the region at the moment, he said.
''I believe that the limited number of interventions is a
positive indicator of the strength of governance and
management in Otago secondary boards and schools.
''We also receive effective support and advice from regional
representatives in organisations like School Trustees
Association, New Zealand Principals' Federation, Post Primary
Teachers' Association, New Zealand Educational Institute and
Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand.
''I am sure this is a significant factor in the decline,'' he
Otago Primary Principals' Association president Stephanie
Madden was also pleased with the decrease in interventions,
but highlighted the fact the number of schools requiring
interventions was still a very low percentage of the 144
schools operating in Otago.
''It's a really positive figure.
''No-one wants it to get to the stage where an intervention
''It's good that schools are using the support available
before it gets to that stage.''
Schools have to pay for limited statutory managers from their
own funding, and some schools have reported receiving annual
invoices nearing $90,000 - money which they say could be
better spent on pupil education.
As a result, Education Minister Hekia Parata has asked
Secretary for Education Peter Hughes to review how the
ministry helps schools in difficulty, move back into full