'No immediate risk' to learning

Cleave Hay.
Cleave Hay.
Governance problems at Wanaka Primary School present ''no immediate risk'' to pupils' learning, a Ministry of Education representative has determined.

Dunedin business director Cleave Hay was appointed by the ministry in January as limited statutory manager for the school after a breakdown in board of trustees' relationships late last year.

Former board chairman Richard Cubie resigned from the role in December, citing the school's handling of parent complaints as the reason, but remained as a board member.

Local policeman Mike Thomas was appointed the new chairman last month.

In the latest school newsletter, Mr Hay said that after completing the scoping period of his appointment and sending his first report to the ministry, he wanted to share with the school community part of the report's executive summary.

''Wanaka Primary School has long been recognised as a high-performing school with very strong leadership, staff and programmes; a safe and effective learning environment for its 500-plus students and staff,'' Mr Hay wrote.

''This, in my opinion and observations, is still the case and I see no immediate risk to student engagement, progress and achievement outcomes. The board of trustees, principal and all staff are focused on the students and ensuring they are well equipped for their future.''

He said recent breakdowns in relationships at governance level needed all parties to work together to re-establish an environment of trust.

''There are issues at the board table but I do not consider them irreconcilable if all persons commit to correct process and relationships with their shared vision for the students.''

Mr Hay told the Otago Daily Times his work at the school to date had been predominantly with the board and principal Wendy Bamford.

He reiterated his belief that the issues identified should not have ''any effect on the classrooms''.

Disaffected parents at the school were a minority, he said.

''There are some disgruntled people, but the majority of people aren't. So it's really looking at what issues are there amongst the smaller numbers and are they of any major consequence or not?"

At a school the size of Wanaka Primary School, it would be impossible to keep everyone happy, ''but that doesn't mean we don't address matters'', he said.

Mr Hay would now spend up to 20 hours a month implementing an action plan to help resolve the issues.

Providing ''everyone pulls together'', his involvement would probably taper off within six months, although he would continue to attend monthly board meetings for the rest of the year.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz