October 4, 2023

Meta Education

For Better Education

Workers and pupil exodus amid ‘severe considerations’ at seaside college

Pressing Authorities intervention is required at a seaside major college in Canterbury the place there’s been an exodus of employees and a notable decline within the roll, a lawyer says.

Jill Pears was appointed as principal of Diamond Harbour College on Banks Peninsula in 2017, and was hailed as having a wealth of expertise, a transparent imaginative and prescient for the varsity and energetic management.

On the time, the decile-10 college was using excessive on the success of her predecessor, having acquired a glowing report card from the Training Evaluate Workplace 18 months earlier when its roll was at a close to report excessive.

Since then, nonetheless, there was disquiet about points which have arisen throughout Pears’ time in cost, although the varsity strongly denies there are any issues with its tradition or management.

* Ministry sends supervisor into Hamilton major college for ‘contemporary perspective’ on issues difficult board
* Academics resign after false rumours, WorkSafe points discover to Te Aroha School
* Manawatū colleges count on few employees losses amid vaccine mandates

A sequence of employees, together with seven academics, have left the varsity within the final 4 years and, regardless of an obvious inhabitants enhance in Diamond Harbour, which is on the shores of Lyttelton Harbour, the roll has dropped to 113, with 5 college students enrolled to begin later this yr. In 2017, the roll was 153.

Late final week, Sarah Clinch, a lawyer performing for one of many former academics, wrote to Training Minister Chris Hipkins requesting “pressing help” from the Ministry of Training.

Clinch, a Diamond Harbour resident who eliminated her youngsters from the varsity a number of years in the past on account of considerations about the way in which it was being run, mentioned she had gathered “harrowing” proof from 10 former employees, together with the seven academics, detailing “severe considerations”, a lot of which the varsity’s board of trustees had been alerted to since 2018.

The proof, which incorporates letters, emails, exit surveys and employees surveys, is detailed in an 80-page doc supporting her letter to Hipkins.

“When taken collectively it appears clear that the board … has failed to supply a secure and wholesome office for the workers the Board owes an obligation of care to,” Clinch mentioned.

In an nameless survey in September 2021, one staffer wrote: “I realise that in all workplaces employees transfer on, however has anyone on the Board stopped to query why so many have left or [are] on go away and what affect this has on the wellbeing of the scholars and college as an entire?”

Jill Pears has been a principal at Diamond Harbour school for five years. (Photo from 2013)

Stacy Squires/Stuff

Jill Pears has been a principal at Diamond Harbour college for 5 years. (Photograph from 2013)

Clinch mentioned the proof she’d gathered confirmed one of many causes for the employees exodus was a “poisonous work tradition”.

Mayer’s assertion from the board refuted this and mentioned allegations of a poisonous tradition have been “completely unfounded”. The board had “full confidence” in its principal and academics, the assertion mentioned.

Diamond Harbour College employs six full-time academics.

The seven academics who’ve left since late 2018 embody a deputy principal with about 15 years’ expertise on the college, an performing deputy principal and a workforce chief within the junior college.

In a doc that types a part of the proof offered to Hipkins, one of many academics mentioned: “I’ve witnessed rising divisions between employees and an obvious shift from a caring and supportive surroundings to 1 the place relationship points have resulted in allegiances.”

In addition they mentioned: “Diamond Harbour College has potential to be an excellent college, however I really feel it has misplaced its approach. Priorities appear to have modified, hidden agendas prevail and it’s not the inclusive, pleased place it as soon as was.”

In a employees survey, one other instructor wrote: “There’s a … tradition of blame, management, undermining, lack of autonomy and feeling of worth…. It’s my perception that many nice employees members have left the varsity as a result of unfavorable tradition.”

Clinch mentioned the board had did not acknowledge or tackle considerations raised with it by employees.

As an alternative, it appeared to conduct its personal investigation and attain a “self-serving dedication”.

Diamond Harbour School is a primary-intermediate school with 113 pupils.


Diamond Harbour College is a primary-intermediate college with 113 pupils.

“By refusing to handle these severe points the board … is permitting, if not enabling … the poisonous tradition to proceed.”

Clinch requested the Ministry of Training to dissolve the board, and appoint a commissioner on the college, utilizing powers given to it by the Training and Coaching Act 2020.

The motion was wanted so “this sample of unacceptable conduct stops and the wellbeing and employment of workers of [the school] are not adversely affected”.

For folks who eliminated their youngsters from the varsity, the closest various was about 15 kilometres away in Governors Bay, Clinch mentioned. Nevertheless, most must take them to Christchurch, a 45-minute drive from Diamond Harbour.

“For a father or mother to take such a step should be clearly pushed by severe considerations because the consequence is {that a} household has to spend appreciable time, expense and inconvenience travelling to a different college that’s a lot additional away.”

In 2018, Clinch withdrew her youngsters from Diamond Harbour College and despatched them to Cobham Intermediate in Christchurch, the place the earlier Diamond Harbour College principal, Eddie Norgate, was in cost.

She did so due to considerations she had about the way in which Diamond Harbour College was being run.

Pears mentioned she was unable to remark as “the board is the spokesperson for the varsity when speaking to the media”.

In response to questions from Stuff, the board mentioned it realized of Clinch’s letter on Tuesday and was “deeply involved in regards to the allegations you’ve got raised and their affect on the varsity’s pupils, our educating employees and the broader college neighborhood”.

The poisonous tradition allegation was “completely unfounded and refuted by the board and the principal”.

“Whereas we can not, for employment legislation and privateness causes, discus particular particulars, we will affirm that the Board has confidence in our principal, Jill Pears, and the educating employees.”

The Board mentioned was troublesome to answer the allegations raised within the letter with out the 80-pages of proof gathered by Clinch.

The drop within the roll was typical of “the ebbs and flows” of a small college and rural inhabitants, it mentioned. A 2019 constructing redevelopment had additionally affected pupil numbers.

The board reiterated it was “dedicated to offering a secure and wholesome surroundings for its workers and pupils”.

It mentioned it had “strong processes in place to make sure complaints are handled appropriately and accurately”.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti says she will consider issues raised in lawyer Sarah Clinch’s letter.


Affiliate Training Minister Jan Tinetti says she’s going to think about points raised in lawyer Sarah Clinch’s letter.

Affiliate Training Minister Jan Tinetti mentioned Clinch’s letter to Hipkins had been transferred to her workplace.

“I’ll think about the issues raised within the letter and reply in the end – nonetheless operationally this can be a matter for the Ministry of Training who I’m assured are working with the varsity’s board and the New Zealand College Trustees’ Affiliation.”

The ministry’s southern chief, Nancy Bell, confirmed that was the case.

“The security and wellbeing of employees and college students is a precedence for us, as it’s for colleges.”

The Training Evaluate Workplace final reviewed Diamond Harbour College in September 2015.

It discovered the varsity’s “efficient governance and management” meant it was “in a powerful place to maintain and proceed to enhance the standard of training it supplies for college students”.

Pears beforehand labored because the affiliate principal at Sumner Main College and Selwyn Home, and the assistant principal at Linwood School.