Catherine Delahunty

Schools should appoint their own principals

by Catherine Delahunty

I am concerned by media reports that the Ministry of Education is considering taking off boards of trustees the role of hiring their school’s principal.

Rumours about such a significant proposal should not be swirling around in the media without a confirmation or denial from the Ministry. School boards and parents should be formally notified if this change is really on the table.

Prior to the election the National Party gave no signal that the Ministry would be taking over this role. It wasn’t mentioned in their policy.

The Government’s rhetoric around education is extremely contradictory at the moment. One minute National says parents need more choice via charter schools and the next it’s taking away choice from communities by removing the power of boards of trustees to appoint their own principal.

Giving local communities a degree of control over their school was central to the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms. I haven’t seen any evidence that the hiring of principals is too difficult a task for schools. It is more likely that the Government wants to make principals answer directly to them rather than the kids and parents in their local community.

National seem to be making up policy which suits their mistrust of schools and helps to impose their unpopular policies. Principals have been a fantastic voice for children in the recent debate over national standards. They are experts who know what they are talking about. Silencing principals is Nationals way of shutting down that important debate.

The Government has no mandate to undermine boards of trustees powers and to continue to operate in a contradictory and hostile manner towards the education sector.

It is time for National so show principals, teachers, parents and children some respect, and listen to their important contribution of ideas that really would improve our education system.

Published in Society & Culture by Catherine Delahunty on Mon, December 19th, 2011   

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