Items discussed at the September 2020 SPAC meeting

Notes from the Senior Positions Advisory Committee, 22 September 2020

Appointment criteria for principals

This was to consider the SPAC position on the minimum eligibility criteria for principals which would be required by the Education and Training Bill.

The Secondary Principals’ Council thinks there should be minimum skills, knowledge and attitudes. It agrees potential appointees should have the necessary skills and abilities but disagree with the idea of a leadership centre. It suggests it is not the criteria that is the main issue but the lack of support for principals if they don’t meet the criteria and the absence of support that is required to get them there. It doesn't want a checkbox matrix but agrees with a competency-based system.

SPAC were in general agreement with SPC’s position. We made several points in the following areas:

  • Barriers to moving to principal role
  • Skills and attributes for developing leaders and new principals
  • Support needed for developing leaders and new principals
  • The role of the board and support required
  • The need for HR support in the role
  • Co-principal (job-share) roles
  •  Possible fishhooks 

Principal and senior leaders’ organising plan

It is good to have the voice of all senior leaders nationally. International research (and our own experience) is that when principals are working together with other teachers it is more likely there will be successful outcomes in education and in employment. 

PPTA has very high membership amongst senior leaders, but it can be challenging for APs and DPs too when they are in their employer role. We are looking at what we can do to make SLT members feel welcome, supported, and visible in PPTA.

There is advice and support available, but the union is limited in terms of the industrial advice it can give to those in the employer role.  An idea being considered is making possible access to 15 minutes of free independent legal advice as a quick check on process and a place to obtain process advice and on where to go next.

PPTA approved the senior leaders’ wellbeing survey through Deacon University Australia. It will provide ideas for what we can do and information for collective negotiations. There are some indicators in survey that, with your approval, allow the researchers to provide confidential individual feedback directly to you. There are two more years of the survey to come.

SPC, SPAC and PPTA are considering how better to communicate with working school leaders who don’t have a lot of time for newsletters. We are representing SLT on a range of fora and we need to make sure we can feedback and increase the visibility of that work for them. 

There is an in-depth discussion underway about how to set up an advice system that principal members can access separate to PPTA, which could be extended to other senior leaders to build confidence in sensible and reasonable steps. 

We are looking at what can we do to support middle and senior leaders with PLD that is a progressive approach to understanding HR, dealing with conflict and change management as an important way to support schools and the people in them. Opportunities are there with government funding for PLD and PPTA can build on Mahi Tika to build a solid framework of PLD for PPTA members who are senior leaders.

Workload Provisions Taskforce report

A taskforce which included SPAC representation has reported on ways to improve the workload provisions of the STCA. Executive has endorsed the report and its recommendations. Over this term and term 1 next year there will be branch-based discussion of the hours of work model suggested. 

An article on this report appears in the November-December 2020 issue of the PPTA News: 

Workload and our collective agreements

Health and Wellbeing survey

There has been a low participation rate, not surprising given the circumstances. However, it provides a valid sample set to work on. 

It can be completed until the end of the term 3-4 school break. We can use the results to do some prework with the MoE on the plan for supervision of senior leaders. 

Regional issues and hot topics for SLT

Covid adjustments and issues

  • NCEA credit adjustments
  • Equity issues
  • Roll and staffing impacts
  • New openness and flexibility about timetabling.
  • IC infrastructure and support for staff
  • Impact on diverse learners.
  • Parent expectations of online continuing but teachers can’t continue to do both face to face and online. Not easily done for practical subjects either.

NCEA changes and jumbo days

  • The timeline of the NCEA review was slowed by Covid-19, and only trial subjects have materials prepared at this stage.
  • The initial November 2020 TOD will be held in schools and delivered digitally. There is no requirement for schools to prepare materials.
  • There is four hours’ worth of material provided.
  • The Powerpoint, video shorts, and questions will be available for the day in advance.
  • The focus of this initial day is explaining the ‘what and why’ of the changes.
  • The first day next year will be a chance to look at new rules around assessment and at the new numeracy and literacy standards. This will also be delivered within schools
  • The second day in 2021 is currently planned to be in learning areas (like the old school Jumbo Day model) and will provide an opportunity to look at new standards and provide feedback.
  • Schools will be sent resources on how to run the upcoming teacher only day, and it should be no imposition on SLT, other than to run the workshops.


  • Student and staff wellbeing and changes to timetable to support them.
  • Teachers who are parents of young children are struggling and have not recovered from lockdown.
  • Overwhelming sense of tiredness.
  • Mental health a real problem for students.
  • Huge spike in anxiety and depression, some from school, some from whanau. Need extra time for deans and guidance counsellors.
  • Accelerated turnover of APs and DPs in some areas.


• Workload impact of CoLs and PLD. Staff wellbeing is a concern. 

Developing professional growth cycle to replace appraisal 

Resourcing has been prepared by SPC and PPTA for this and has been delivered to schools to assist in the shift from appraisal to high trust models of professional growth cycles. 

Templates and information are available here: 

Professional Growth Cycle 

Health and Safety Issues

Recent incidents have highlighted the importance of having the elected school’s health and safety representative and committee in place.  It is also an additional security if one of the SLT team has health and safety training.

Contact Doug Clark ( for information on where to get training as a senior leader.

Last modified on Friday, 27 November 2020 12:26