3 Jun 2014

Principals 'don't need bureaucrat'

10:23 pm on 3 June 2014

Northland principals are asking why the Ministry of Education is creating a new highly-paid job for a regional director when it won't replace a much-needed child psychologist.

The Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president, Pat Newman, says he and other principals knew nothing about the position until they saw the ad in a newspaper.

Mr Newman says at the same time, the ministry won't advertise until after the general election on 20 September for a psychologist to replace one who resigned, and disturbed children are waiting six months to be assessed and helped.

"Now that should be there when we need it, not having children in the class having to put up with the behaviour for another six months, we have children who have been damaged badly who are sitting there waiting - and we've got another bureaucrat coming in."

Mr Newman said out of 14 recent applications for wrap-around services for at-risk children in Northland, only two have been approved. He said Secretary of Education Peter Hughes had expressed a desire for principals to work in partnership with the ministry, but they only heard about the restructuring through the media.

However, a senior spokesperson for the ministry said on Tuesday that 10 new jobs around the country would replace existing positions and be cost-neutral.

Katrina Casey said the vacancy for a psychologist in Northland is a part-time position and would be advertised shortly.

"As people are resigning, we're expecting the next big push on recruitment where we need to to be round about the 1st of July, which is well before and definitely not related to the election."

Ms Casey said 18 Northland pupils are being helped by two psychologists through the Gateway programme, which provides support for troubled children.