By: Simon Collins
A group of state and integrated schools has launched a campaign costing at least $23,000 to “say no to hubs”.
The “Community Schools Alliance”, backed by 43 of the country’s 2431 state and integrated schools, opposes a scheme by a task force led by former principal Bali Haque for about 20 regional “hubs” to take over most powers from elected school boards.
Full-page advertisements in today’s Herald and Dominion-Post state that the advertising has been “paid for by locally raised funds from the 42 foundation members of our alliance”.
Massey High School principal Glen Denham, a spokesman for the group, said the money has been raised entirely from supporters in the community.
“The money that is coming from us [Massey High] is from someone in the community who supports this cause,” he said.
“Categorically it has not come from any school funds at all. None of it has.”
However, the long-anticipated launch of the campaign was marked by a relatively low-key press release without any launch function, perhaps because it has come in the wake of the Christchurch mosque killings.
Conservative schools led by Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O’Connor have been talking about the planned alliance ever since Haque issued his report in December proposing to transfer “all the legal responsibilities and liabilities currently held by school boards of trustees” to regional hubs.
Denham said he worked under such a system in London and it did not work.
“We are a world-class education system. It’s not broken,” he said.
“What makes us great is that we are a tapestry of different kinds of schools, that you can go 10km down the road and find a completely different kind of school.”
He said the Haque report would give the hubs powers to employ all teachers and principals, with principals being appointed for five-year terms.
“In five years someone might come and talk to me and say, ‘Glen, within five years we want you to move to another school.’ I might say I want to stay at Massey. Right now I can.
“We are told we are over-reacting, but when your contracts are held centrally and you take away the powers of the board, that is a big thing.”
He said the group also opposed a Haque recommendation that would give hubs control of processes after a student was suspended.
“We know those kids. I know them from when they come in in Year 9. We can’t have people from the hubs doing that,” he said.
The alliance website says 94 per cent of schools are “operating successfully”, and only 6 per cent are under Government-appointed commissioners or limited statutory managers.
Denham said support should be provided for that 6 per cent, such as property experts who could support schools with property issues, but there was no need to change the vast majority of schools.
However, Haque said the alliance was being “mischievous” because he had made clear at consultation meetings that school boards of trustees would “still have a really important role to play in terms of the character and purpose of schools”.
“We don’t see the schools being run by the hub. The way we see it is hubs providing support for schools that has been missing for a long time.”
He said that school principals would retain day-to-day control of operational funding and that hubs could delegate control of property to competent schools: “They just have to go through a process.”
“There is no intention in our report to move teachers and principals at a whim,” he said.
“We have been clear as we have gone around the country, when we talked about the five-year contract for principals, that would absolutely be on the basis of something that is mutually agreed.”
Similarly, teachers might be “seconded” to another school by mutual agreement, but would not be forced to move.
“That is about sharing and giving people the opportunity for professional development. That’s what we mean by seconded,” he said.
“Honestly, it’s mischievous for this group to go in there because it’s not right and they know it.”
The alliance’s 43 schools include some of the country’s largest, such as Rangitoto College, Macleans College, Mt Albert Grammar, Westlake Boys’ High School and Auckland Grammar.
Two-thirds (29) of the schools are in Auckland. The other 14 are in Northland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Hastings, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt, Otago and Southland.
A third of the schools (14) are boys’ schools, one (Baradene College) is a girls’ school and the rest are co-educational.
The group includes 27 regular state schools, 13 integrated schools, two former charter schools and one kura-a-iwi, Te Kura Kaupapa Motukahe o Tāwhiuau in Murupara led by former Māori Party president Pem Bird.
The full list of schools is: Auckland Grammar, Baradene College, Bucklands Beach Intermediate, Campbells Bay Primary, Chanel College (Masterton), De La Salle College (Māngere), Hamilton Boys’ High School, Hora Hora School (Northland), Hutt International Boys’ School, James Hargest College (Invercargill), John Paul College (Rotorua), King’s High School (Dunedin), Kohia Terrace School (Mt Eden), Liston College (Henderson), Macleans College (Bucklands Beach), Marist College (Mt Albert), Massey High School, Maungawhau School (Mt Eden), Middle School West Auckland, Mt Albert Grammar, Mt Eden Normal School, Mt Hobson Middle School, Murray’s Bay Intermediate, Murray’s Bay Primary, Northern Southland College, Northland College, One Tree Hill College, Ōtāhuhu College, Ōwairoa Primary School (Howick), Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Pigeon Mountain Primary School (Bucklands Beach), Rangitoto College, Rotorua Boys’ High School, Sacred Heart College (Glendowie), South Auckland Middle School, St Dominic’s Primary School (Blockhouse Bay), St John’s College (Hastings), St Paul’s College (Ponsonby), St Peter’s College (Epsom), Taieri College, Te Kura Kaupapa Motukahe o Tāwhiuau (Murupara), Wakaaranga School (Pakuranga) and Westlake Boys’ High School.
Source: NZ Herald