By Zizi Sparks
The number of Rotorua principals who have left or plan to leave their roles has some principals worried but another says she is making way for the next generation of leaders.
In 2018 so far at least six principals have left or indicated their intention to leave their roles.
Among them is Sunset Primary School principal Niels Rasmussen, who intends to retire at the end of the year after 19 years at the school.
Rasmussen said being a principal meant being under “relentless pressure”.
“It’s relentless to do with students, it’s relentless to do with the community, it’s relentless to do with issues.
“If you check with most principals they are working long, 12- or 13-hour days.”Rasmussen said every principal would have a different reason for leaving, but the pressures of running a school were becoming greater.
“I’m of [an] age now where I need to lift my head up from my mahi and try a few other things. That creates a space for someone else to step in and move the school forward.”
The president of the Rotorua Principals’ Association, Rotokawa School’s Briar Stewart, is also leaving but said she didn’t think principals moving on was a bad thing.
“It is quite refreshing actually.
“I think it’s healthy because we’ve got these layers of leaders coming up, if we don’t move aside we’ll lose them too.”
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the teachers who were leaving took with them experience and knowledge.
“Not just in Rotorua but nationwide there’s been an exodus of principals from positions. We’re not attracting people to put their hands up for the role.
“With an ageing workforce there are going to be a lot moving on in the next five years and it does create quite a vacuum in that leadership space.”
He said many assistant and deputy principals did not have the desire to become principal.
“They see the workload principals are under and the stress and struggles.”
When asked what could be done to address the issue, Walsh said remuneration needed to be looked at.
“The ministry needs to do more in support. We spend a lot of time on property finances and admin, we didn’t come into the job for that, we came in to be leaders of teaching and learning.”
Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said the stress of being a principal took its toll.
“My concern with the high turnover in Rotorua now is that it is not necessarily age-related. We are losing a lot of experience and leadership earlier than we should.
“The roles are being filled – but there is a nervousness about taking on the added responsibility, and huge extra workload.”
Woon said running a school meant compliance with health and safety and property, managing finances and staffing, and addressing curriculum and family concerns.
– Nancy Macfarlane (Glenholme School to Ministry of Education in July 2018),
– Briar Stewart (Rotokawa School to a different lifestyle at end of 2018)
– Ally Gibbons (Rotorua Girls’ High School to retirement at end of 2018)
– Neils Rasmussen (Sunset Primary School to retirement at end of 2018)
– John Naera (Left Rotorua Primary School at end of Term 1, 2018)
– Cathryn Naera (Left Ngongotahā Primary at end of Term 2, 2018)