Editorial Learning Experience

Education is serious business. It is big business too, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the Government’s total annual spend of $42 billion. We are all at some stage captured by the process and, as writer Vicki Jayne notes in her cover story on managing our schools, “everyone thinks he or she is an expert on the product”. Why then do we shortchange the critical element in education – the leaders and managers who support the teachers who deliver the goods? The Ministry of Education now, finally, concedes there is “increasing recognition of the critical role principals have in determining school effectiveness”. It also accepts that the “quality of teaching and learning in schools relates to leadership and management decisions”.
What is happening to give substance to this belated recognition of the importance of leadership and best practice management in our state sector schools? Private sector educators have, by and large, better understood the need to invest in leadership and management to create learning environment that attracts good quality teachers. The public education sector may now be catching up, but is it case of too little or too late? Principals, senior managers and, for that matter, schools boards were set up by the Tomorrow’s Schools concept to take greater responsibility for managing our schools. However, very little was offered to equip them for the task. Vicki Jayne set out to provide some answers to the question: are our state sector principals set up to fail? She provides them in her cover story starting on page 26.
And talking about management support, how long is it since you or your organisation took good hard look at how well you work with your finance team? According to contributing writer Elizabeth Richardson senior finance managers are now expected to be well-rounded business people and leaders and “not just highly skilled accountants”. So, she asks, is your finance team aligned with the organisation? If not, she offers some sound suggestions about how to diagnose and then treat the problems. To find out more turn to page 49 of this month’s issue.
And finally, why not sample Keith Stewart’s new column Taste? Columnist, radio host, writer and class act as sommelier, Stewart will write regularly about investing in the finer things of life. You can, he suggests, have your cake and eat it if you invest wisely in, for instance, good wines or art or… well, just keep an eye out for him in future. This month he kicks out on page 67 explaining why age, in the world of good taste, is blessing.

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