A follow-up inspection to a damning report about senior
management in Queenstown's only secondary school was ''very
positive'' in its early verdict, the principal and board of
trustees chairman say.
Wakatipu High School was officially visited by two inspectors
from the Education Review Office (ERO) for about 48 hours
over three days earlier this month.
The inspectors individually interviewed new principal Steve
Hall, senior management team members, heads of learning and
deans. They also met the staff representative on the board of
trustees, a guidance counsellor, board trustees and the
chairman, Alistair Nicholson.
They gave Mr Hall and Mr Nicholson a summary of their visit
The visit was a follow-up to an ERO review released in
February 2011 which triggered major changes within the
school, including the sudden departure of then principal Lyn
Cooper in September last year.
ERO identified ''significant issues'' relating to
communication, consultation and change management which badly
impacted on the school's operation.
''The principal and senior managers have not been effective
in smoothly implementing recent major initiatives that have
come about in response to the school's revised curriculum,''
the 2011 report said.
''While students have benefited from the new curriculum
design, the implementation of the initiatives has resulted in
unnecessary anxiety and stress for teachers.''
''It was those key things they came back to look at,'' Mr
Hall told the Otago Daily Times when asked how the visit
''So they didn't go into classrooms on this visit or look at
year plans for curriculum. This visit was to look at those
leadership issues which had been identified in that February
Mr Hall said the inspectors asked many questions, which was
their job, but there were ''no surprises'' in terms of the
areas they were probing.
''Their report for Alistair and I was very positive that in
the last couple of months we've made some progress and got
some clarity around what we're about and our objectives ...
and the things that we're really going to focus on."
Mr Nicholson said he and board members were ''exceedingly
happy'' with the progress the school made in a short space of
time. He credited Mr Hall, his predecessor interim principal
Paul O'Connor, of Dunedin, and the willingness of school
staff to embrace new leadership changes.
Staff members were ''energised and understood what their
''Al the indications [ERO has] given us are the school's made
significant progress to the extent they are returning to the
normal three-yearly cycle of reviews, with the next in 2014.
''They were very positive about the clarity and vision of the
school. They were happy to see the management of the school
was engaged and the issues of communication identified in the
ERO report no longer exist.''
The inspectors will write their report and send it to the
school for consultation before it is expected to be released
to the public in February or March.