Principals want leadership plan rethink

As more detail emerges about the Government's plan for a $359 million enhancement of the school leadership system, concerns have grown among New Zealand principals.

The Government proposes to pay some principals and teachers more so that other principals and teachers can share their expertise.

Primary and secondary principals from around Otago met this week to discuss the proposed roles, and while they welcomed the significant investment in the education sector, they were not convinced it would be rolled out effectively.

''We are concerned, as I am sure are the public, that this money is spent wisely,'' Otago Primary Principals' Association president Stephanie Madden said.

''We are asking that the Government takes the time to engage with the profession and the community before deciding the future shape of our public education system.

''This policy signals significant changes in how schools will operate. These changes are too important to be rushed through by an end of April deadline.''

Mrs Madden said Otago principals were not vaguely interested in any large salary bonus as a mechanism for improvement.

''We would far rather that the money be targeted towards initiatives that will have a direct impact on children's learning.''

New Zealand Principals' Federation acting president Denise Torrey also expressed deep concern.

She believed the Government's plan was not based on reliable evidence and the money could end up being ''wasted in a failed experiment''.

Many in the profession were already collaborating with colleagues to improve outcomes for children, and the extra funds proposed would go a long way to getting even better outcomes if used in the right way, she said.

''Our objections are that a model is being rushed through without recourse to best evidence and shaping by the profession to ensure that this money is being spent in the best way possible.

''One aspect of the model proposes that executive principals will be selected for their expertise and will be paid extra to take two days a week out of their own schools to work with a cluster of 10 other schools in their region.

''No parents would be happy for their school's very good principal to be absent nearly half the time,'' she said.

''What we need to do is scrap the proposed unworkable model and build another which is based on solid research evidence and which will genuinely give us a chance to improve outcomes especially for our priority learners.''


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