Camberley School is currently without a principal. Photo/File

Those in the Camberley School community are worried about the future of the decile one school, after the principal and four teachers resigned in December.

Hawke’s Bay Today understands the school’s principal, Tamla Smith, resigned after ongoing rifts with members of the board.

Hastings district councillor Henare O’Keefe said he was disappointed by the school’s problems.

“Camberley School is part of the life blood of the community and to have that taken away is not good,” he said.

“That school was the very first Duffy Books in Homes School in the world, starting at the school in 1993. I’m sure Alan Duff, who lives in France now, would be bitterly disappointed at what’s unfolding.”

He said whatever the differences and politics were, they needed to put that aside and “think of the kids”.

“They’re not dissimilar to Flaxmere in some ways as they continue to punch above their weight because they have had to scream and kick for every morsel of support they could get and the school is a major part of that community.”

Cr Henare O’Keefe, Hastings District Council. Photo/File

Camberley School’s limited statutory manager Kevin Palmer, who was appointed by the Ministry of Education, said he was recruiting for a new principal and four teacher roles, “like many other schools throughout New Zealand”.

These positions have been advertised on the Education Gazette website since December 20 and would remain open until Friday.

Palmer said the future of the school, which had 116 pupils in July 2017, was “important and assured”, and said there was no issue around the future of the school and they would open as usual.

He said the teaching and support staff who he had spoken to were looking forward to the start of the school year.

“Obviously when people move on it is a little bit sad but that is the same as in any school.”

He has been assisting the board and principal in the areas of employment, curriculum, finance and policy, and believed this would continue throughout the year.

Councillor Malcolm Dixon said he felt “very sorry for the school and the school pupils and the community”.

Dixon said he understood Smith was planning to study for a Masters degree this year.

“Tamla was doing a fantastic job and she knew the community exceptionally well but all schools lose their principal at some stage,” he said.

“This dispute, I suppose, with the community or Board was only a small trigger.”

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Katrina Casey said they had “talking to the board along with others about solutions to a range of issues including a number of resignations of staff at the school”.

She said the Board of Trustees was still in place and the ministry had appointed Kevin Palmer as a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM).

“The board has agreed that it needed some additional expertise to assist it. Kevin will be responsible for employment, curriculum management, finance, communication and policy and procedural issues.

“He will also help the board to consolidate any new and improved systems into its practice and will advise on governance best practice.

“By far the majority of schools operate successfully, but a small number develop difficulties or have unanticipated events that they cannot resolve without outside help.

“We always work with schools to support them to resolve problems themselves, and only intervene as a last resort.

“Where we do step in, an intervention aims to bring expertise and fresh perspective. It also acts as a circuit breaker for entrenched problems, so that the focus of the school can go back on teaching and learning.”

Board chairwoman Carol Halbert could not be reached for comment.

Source: Hawke’s Bay Today


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