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Education Minister slammed for ‘appalling’ response to principal stress review

31 Jan 17

The president of Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association Pat Newman has left some scathing remarks over Minister of Education Hekia Parata’s response to an independent review on Principal Stress in schools.

Newman says Parata’s response to the review was ‘casual, uncaring and appalling’, adding that Parata is the root of the problem.

Parata says Kiwis in general are renowned for being resilient and hardworking, and school principals are no exception.

"They do work hard and most do a very good job," she says.

However, Parata added, "I make no apologies for having high expectations of principals – it’s one of the most important professions in the country.

"Parents also have high expectations, and most of them also work hard and experience stress in whatever profession they’re in," she says.

"The education system is about kids and their achievement – we’re not about to reduce our aspirations for kids or our high expectations of educators because of a union survey," says Parata.

"There is a range of support available to principals, including mentors for first time principals and professional learning and development," she explains. 

"If, despite the support provided by our Government, any principal feels they cannot meet the expectations of the community to successfully support kids to achieve, I would encourage them to choose a different profession," adds Parata.

“To be honest, I should not have been surprised with Minister Parata’s lack of caring,” Newman says.

“When you are seen as the number one cause of the problem, you are unlikely to accept there is a problem, because then you would have to acknowledge your part in its making!”

Newman says the study ‘clearly’ shows that the continuously changing expectations from the Minister and her Ministry have placed that much stress on principals, that fewer and fewer teachers aspire to the job.

He adds the expectations are often things that have ‘little positive impact on children’s learning’.

“I am not concerned about principals having stress in their job, but I am very concerned at the massive level of stress, and its results, that principals are currently under,” says Newman.

“As Minister responsible for the education system, Ms Parata cannot continue to bury her head in the sand, pretending there is no problem, and attacking the messengers with disdain,” he claims.

“To be honest it would help to know she cared, even a little.”

Newman says the Minister needs to own the problem and be accountable for it.

“The difficulty is though, to do that she has to listen for once to the profession and realise her way is not the way.”

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