Ministerial Advisory Group reviewing school staffing

An advisory group on school staffing has been set up by the Minister of Education.

Purpose of the group

The purpose of the advisory group is to provide advice to the Minister of Education on the question of "what skills and staffing are required across schools to deliver on the purpose of education as set out in the Education and Training Act and the National Education and Learning Priorities?".

The group is made up of experts from the education sector who understand how schools work, including school funding mechanisms and the staffing entitlement part of the school resourcing system.

The group will provide independent advice and recommendations to the Minister of Education who has requested that the group provide an initial report back within three months of their initial meeting.

For more detailed background on why the group has been set up, see the terms of reference.

Members of the group

A brief biography of each of the members is set out below.

Dame Karen Sewell (Chair)

Dame Karen has had an extensive career in education and the public service. She has been a secondary school principal, the Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer of ERO, acting Chief Executive of NZQA and Secretary for Education at the Ministry of Education.

More recently, Dame Karen was on the board of ANZSOG (Australia and New Zealand School of Government), and was a former board chair of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

Whetū Cormick

Whetū Cormick (Tainui, Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga, Ireland, Scotland) is an educational consultant with extensive leadership experience. He has worked as a former principal at 4 New Zealand schools: Orere School, Paihia School, Macandrew Intermediate School and Bathgate Park School.

As an establishment principal at Bathgate Park, Whetū succeeded in transforming the establishment school board's vision for a technology and arts-focused curriculum into reality.

He is also a past president of the New Zealand Principals' Federation (2017-2019), and was a member of the Pūaotanga review panel into primary school staffing settings in 2021, commissioned by the NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Fa’atili Iosua Esera, MNZM

Iosua Esera has been the principal of Sutton Park School in Mangere East since 2014. About half the learning at Sutton Park takes place in bilingual classes and is delivered in te reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan and English.

Iosua has strong leadership experience and has been a principal for over 35 years at 5 different schools. He has twice been the president of the national organisation of Samoan teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand (FAGASA Incorporated) and was a founding member of the NZ Pasifika Principals Association.

Iosua is a strong advocate for Pasifika students and has considerable experience lobbying for their education. He also initiated Samoan Language Week in 2006 and established the annual Samoan language speech contest for primary and secondary students in 2007.

In 2023, Iosua was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Pacific Education.

Tony Grey

Tony Grey has been a principal for close to 20 years. He has been a principal of a small rural school, medium-size semi-rural school, and now a large urban school (which is one of the public-private charter schools).

Tony is the foundation principal at Te Ao Mārama School in Hamilton, which has quadrupled in size since opening in 2019. Te Ao Mārama is well known for its innovative teaching and learning programme, its diversity (45% of the roll is made up of English as a second language learners), and its commitment to te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. The whole school is Māori-language funded and they have a rich relationship with mana whenua.

He was also the first lead principal of a Kāhui Ako in Hamilton and is well known across the country for his support of principals and his depth of knowledge and innovation when it relates to staffing and funding. Tony was recently recognised for this support with life membership of the Waikato Principal Association.

Sandy Hastings

Sandy Hastings is an experienced principal of 18 years and has held several governance positions with education sector groups. She has been the principal of Beckenham | Te Kura o Pūroto Primary in Christchurch since 2011.

Sandy was on the national executive of the New Zealand's Principals Association from 2018 to 2021. She has been a member of the Canterbury Primary Principals Association Executive since 2013 and became the president in 2021. In addition to her background in school leadership, she brings experience in primary education, change leadership, educational technology and instructional design to the work of the advisory group.

Mina Pomare-Peita

Mina Pomare-Peita has been the principal of Te Kura Taumata o Panguru in the Far North for 21 years, and before that worked in a range of leadership roles. Mina knows Te Tai Tokerau and its schools well, particularly in Te Hiku o Te Ika and Hokianga.

She has been a teaching principal all her career and believes in pushing boundaries to achieve success, not just with students but also with staff. In 2021, Te Kura Taumata o Panguru achieved the Prime Minister's Excellence Award in Engaging. This year, Mina had 7 staff (including herself) complete a Master of Contemporary Education to learn more about collaboration and leadership in practice. She believes that these are some of the new learnings that schools need to adopt in the 21st-century classroom and in the post-pandemic classroom to make a connection between schooling through to tertiary education and employment.

Mina is an effective contributor to conversations and decisions around Māori-medium settings.

Dr Sylvia Robertson

Dr Sylvia Robertson is a lecturer in Education Studies for undergraduate and postgraduate programs at the University of Otago. She has strong leadership skills and has held roles as director of the University of Otago Centre for Educational Leadership and Administration and co-director of the UCEA Centre for the International Study of School Leadership.

Sylvia has written publications on the leadership self, teacher effectiveness, leadership for social justice and leadership in high-need settings. She has spent time in diverse roles within the school education sector in leadership and teaching within New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. She has taught in a range of schools, including all-boys, all-girls, state, independent and bilingual.

Derek Slatter

Derek Slatter has been on multiple school boards in the primary and secondary sector. He is an accredited provider and was chair of Te Tai Tokerau Regional Executive for NZSTA. He also has broad experience in commercial governance and management, specialising in innovation, productivity and process improvement.

Derek will contribute to the group from a school governance and business perspective. He will also contribute a Te Tiriti o Waitangi lens, including ways in which those impacted by poverty can be better served by working on the structure of our education system.

Helen Tuhoro, MNZM

Helen Tuhoro has contributed to education for more than 40 years. She is the foundation principal at Tarawera High School, where, since her appointment in 2012, she has:

  • led the redesign of the school’s curriculum
  • overseen the design and build of a new modern learning environment
  • introduced free breakfasts and lunches
  • provided a teen parent education centre, an alternative education service, and a specialist learning centre for students with high learning needs
  • managed the Pūtauaki ki Rangitaiki Attendance Service
  • developed a defence academy.

In 2018 and 2019, over 86% of Year 11-13 students were passing their respective NCEA Levels, and in 2020 this reached over 90% in all levels, compared to less than 50% in 2013 when the school started.

Previously Helen was the deputy principal of Trident High School in Whakatāne between 1999 and 2012 and deputy principal at Kawerau College from 1989-1999. She was a member of the Ministry's advisory group on replacing the decile system.

In 2022, Helen was awarded MNZM for services to education.

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