Some principals ‘furious’ over proposal for radical education restructuring

Radical change will usually annoy some people, and so it seems with some school principals over the proposal to radically change the way schools are administered.

The reform was announced just as schools were closing down for the year.

Stuff:  Furious principals warn education reforms will ‘destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it’

Furious principals say they will march on Parliament in protest at the most radical restructuring in 30 years, saying the proposals will destroy schooling as New Zealand knows it.

The proposal to relieve school boards of responsibility for property, HR and financial management is the one that has been most warmly-greeted by the Government. Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the report reflected what he often heard from schools: that boards felt ill-equipped to manage property, especially when problems such as leaky buildings cropped up.

The School Trustees Association and Principal’s Federation have offered cautious support to centralising some of those responsibilities. And this week, Manawatū Principals’ Association president Wayne Jenkins said boards of trustees faced “huge” responsibilities, and he welcomed a re-evaluation on their role.

But at some of the bigger secondary schools, especially in Auckland, anger is mounting. In this week’s strongly-worded attack, Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves wrote to parents and staff in the holidays to say the proposed changes would “destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it”.

Hargreaves joined other heads, including Auckland Grammar’s Tim O’Connor, in revolting against the proposals.

Taking power away from boards would create “bland, one-size-fits-all” institutions and destroy the role of communities in schools, Hargreaves said.

He called on parents to oppose the recommendations and said parents had already been quick to voice their backing for him.

Over the summer break, schools would be picking over the report in detail and identifying the key issues, Hargreaves said. A parents’ information evening would be scheduled in February and from there they would aim to get traction through the board of trustees and local MPs.

Hargreaves said he was ready to “descend on Parliament” with other principals if necessary.

This weekend, Bali Haque, chairman of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce, emphasised there could be scope for hubs to hand responsibilities back to boards.

Haque said there was no intention in the report to take away the “critical jobs” boards currently have.

Boards would retain control over teaching at their schools, the locally-raised funds, and receive a veto or final approval over their principal’s appointment if the taskforce’s recommendations are adopted.

It looks like a lot of consultation is required here.

The Government and Minister of Education Chris Hipkins have already had to try to deal with teacher unions campaigning for substantially improved pay and and staffing levels.


  1. kluelis

     /  December 23, 2018

    90 % of our personality is formed before we go to pre school. 99.99999% of what we know is learned out side of school hours. What’s with school any way?. School is really just respite care for children of frazzled parents. Schools as we know them are on their last legs thank goodness. With the quality and access of the internet schools can be run any where any time by any one. Kids will be able to just design their own “schooling” which will be great. Wish we had such schools in my day day rather than the soul less bullying faceless grey punishment centres we had to endure.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 23, 2018

      I didn’t have schools like that; where on earth did YOU go to school ?

    • Gezza

       /  December 23, 2018

      Yeah it was pretty bad at times back in the 60s & 70s – whole new ball game at school these days though. Teachers are ever so sweet. Pupils can be ever so awful.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 23, 2018

        Most of our teachers were nice people. The one who was a sadist/pervert was removed and next heard of in the loony bin.

        Ask any teacher from the past if all the pupils were well-behaved and respectful in the past and see what they say.

        Poor old Corks made it obvious that he’s a fantasist when he described a relation as holding a non-existent position as a head…and said that even with all of them helping, it took a whole 8 hours to prepare for the new term.

  2. artcroft

     /  December 23, 2018

    A skilled board which includes parents who are professional lawyers, accountants and teachers is a huge help and resource for a fortunate school (and a challenge to principals). But many boards lack these skills and occasionally board members are disinterested. I heard one situation where trustees arrived late, stayed long enough to collect the meagre honorarium and buggered off. So I can see the govt’s point of view.

    • Pink David

       /  December 23, 2018

      What makes you think those who the government replace them with won’t behave in exactly the same way?

    • Blazer

       /  December 23, 2018

      ‘A skilled board which includes parents who are professional lawyers’….no thanks.

  3. NOEL

     /  December 23, 2018

    Some furious principals. Decile 9 and 10 schools no surprises there,.

    • Probably no surprise, large high decile schools are likely to have management expertise available for their boards – but should high decile schools be disadvantaged in an effort to lift lower decile schools?

      Maybe the restructuring should be optional.

      • NOEL

         /  December 23, 2018

        ” This weekend, Bali Haque, chairman of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce, emphasised there could be scope for hubs to hand responsibilities back to boards.”
        Present your case and probable nothing will change.

  4. duperez

     /  December 23, 2018

    Of course there’ll be fury – there are empires to protect.

    The bland ‘one-size-fits-all institutions’ model will destroy the role of communities in schools and do irreparable damage to our schooling? Who knows, the USA school districts and UK local council models destroyed them so much that over many recent years we’ve regularly heard that we need to copy many facets of their schooling. Apparently they know better than us and their ways are preferable to ours.

    Flippancy aside, now for the serious stuff. The proposals are a totally unwanted intrusion into the life of big Auckland schools. How can a principal focus on the real stuff when that rubbish is going on? Real stuff that needs 100% attention like attracting as many foreign fee paying students as possible and the real real stuff: recruiting for the rugby First XV and/or the hockey and soccer First XVs.

    • Duker

       /  December 23, 2018

      Thats a fully private school, they have no government input at all- except for the money of course. Theres the semi private schools which are mostly government funded , then theres the rest.
      ‘Currently, private schools are funded from a pool of $41 million a year, divided among the schools according to their enrolments’

      But even the previous government was likely to centralise some functions , especially funding for buildings
      “The paper[2016] also said the ministry was looking at taking over more property responsibilities from schools and at better ways of managing property maintenance.”

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 23, 2018

        I imagine that private schools have to have the same curriculum and can’t just decide for themselves what to teach.

  5. duperez

     /  December 23, 2018

    New maths or cheating with extra players? They’d never do that: soccer and hockey First Xls!

  6. Gezza

     /  December 23, 2018

    Hargreaves said he was ready to “descend on Parliament” with other principals if necessary.

    Looking forward to seeing that ! 👍

  7. Kitty Catkin

     /  December 23, 2018

    A headmaster found a new pupil crying in the playground on the first day of school and asked what the matter was.

    ‘My mother says that I have to come to school and I can’t leave until I’m 16 !’ sobbed the little boy.

    “I don’t know what you’re crying about; I can’t leave until I’m 65.’ was the reply.

  8. Kitty Catkin

     /  December 23, 2018

    The principals are the ones who’ll have who knows how much extra work to do as they have to reorganise all these things. I’d be as mad as a wasp, too.