Advice for senior and middle leaders in competence cases

SPAC discussed the advice that school leaders can expect to receive from PPTA on competence processes

From time to time middle and senior leaders (including principals) who are members will ask PPTA for advice on the competence processes.

PPTA is always keen to give advice that helps the person under competence. It is helpful if the employer understands the competence process, but PPTA has to be very careful not to undermine the position of the employee in the process as PPTA’s function is to support the employee and ensure that the process followed is fair and robust.

While all PPTA members are employees, some members may from time to time have some delegated responsibilities which are actually employer responsibilities. Sometimes each school leader is acting as an employee and sometimes they are acting (by delegation) as employer. The dividing line on the nature of the advice that can be given by is the line between when the member is acting as employee and the when the member is undertaking a delegated employer function.

Dealing with competence is an employer function 

Dealing with competence is an employer function. The board is responsible for this function, but will delegate this responsibility (at least to some level) to the principal. The principal may delegate this down to other senior leaders and to HoDs in their management roles.

The role of the AP/DP/HOD involved in a competence process is not to make decisions but it is still to carry out the functions they may have been assigned to undertake as part of the process by the principal (on behalf of the employing board).

Acting as an agent of the board 

When there are competence concerns the HoD or senior leadership team member may be party dealing with the concern. They may be providing evidence to the employer. They would then be acting (directly or indirectly) in their status as an agent of the board (ie. in the status of employer), not in their status as PPTA member.

When a member who is acting in an employer role asks about the competence process they may expect to get advice about the process in the STCA (which any member can ask for) but they cannot expect to get advice about the specific circumstances of a competence matter or about a specific individual.

Employers (and the HoD when adopting the employer role) should seek advice about specific cases from the employers’ advocate – NZSTA. A schematic of the competence processes will be made available 

Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2019 12:33