Progress ends statutory manager's role

The end of tenure of the Ministry of Education's troubleshooter in Wakatipu High School signals a return to normalcy following almost two years of turbulence triggered by a scathing Education Review Office (Ero) report.

The revocation of Peter Macdonald's appointment as limited statutory manager in Queenstown's sole secondary school after 18 months was published in the New Zealand Gazette yesterday. A ministry spokesman told the Otago Daily Times the intervention was revoked because the ministry was ''satisfied that the required tasks had been completed and that the appointment of a statutory manager was no longer required''.

The appointment followed concerns relating to communication, consultation and change management in the school, which were highlighted in the critical Ero report published in February 2011.

An experienced education reviewer and employment lawyer from Christchurch, Mr MacDonald has been appointed statutory manager seven times previously in his career.

The position in Wakatipu High School gave him the powers of the board of trustees specific to employment.

Principal Lyn Cooper resigned suddenly in September last year. Deputy principal Grant Adolph resigned because of family reasons in September this year after 20 years in the school. The ministry spokesman said Mr Macdonald assisted the board to establish positive working relationships between the governance, management and wider school community.

He also helped appoint a new principal, former Halberg Trust chief executive and Wakatipu High School teacher Steve Hall, who started in the top job in early September.

Mr Hall said yesterday the conclusion of the limited statutory manager's work in the school was ''important and significant''.

''The ministry now has complete faith the board and the school can manage its own affairs.

''It's a really positive development.''

The school was officially visited by two Ero inspectors for three days earlier this month.

After individual interviews with 16 staff members and trustees, the inspectors unofficially indicated to Mr Hall and board chairman Alistair Nicholson the issues identified in the 2011 report had been satisfactorily resolved.

Their new report is due to be publicly released in February or March.

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