Introducing the Senior Positions Advisory Committee
PPTA Te Wehengarua Senior Positions Advisory Committee is a direct link between AP and DP members and the national executive.
The committee meets up to three times a year in Wellington. Members of SPAC are elected on a geographical area basis to monitor and advise on responsibilities of and issues relating to senior staff in schools.
Sharing best practice and exchanging ideas
SPAC addresses various concerns that affect senior leaders, such as working conditions and equity issues, says Christine Pili, Associate Principal at Tangaroa College and one of SPAC’s Tāmaki Makarau Auckland representatives. “SPAC provides opportunities to connect with other senior educators, which can be beneficial for sharing best practices, exchanging ideas, and collaborating on educational initiatives. As a representative, I can participate in decision-making processes, both within the union and in educational policy discussions. This participation can influence positive changes in the New Zealand education system.
Kevin Byrne , Deputy Principal at New Plymouth Girls’ High School and SPAC’s Taranaki Manawatū-Whanganui representative, says one of SPAC’s most significant recent achievements was initiating pay increases to management units and allowances in the 2019 collective agreement.
The initiative came from a SPAC paper to PPTA Te Wehengarua annual conference. “All members who have extra responsibilities have benefitted from this.”
Another significant piece of SPAC work is its contribution to PPTA Te Wehengarua advice and guidance publications. This includes the valuable change management toolkit, which given the changes occuring currently, should be used frequently in all schools.
Ensuring fair promotions
Christine says SPAC has advocated for initiatives to enhance student well-being, and foster an inclusive and equitable learning environment. This includes supporting programmes that address equity, diversity, and inclusion within schools.
She says SPAC has continued to ensure equitable opportunities, fair promotions, and member recognition. This could involve advocating for equal career advancement opportunities, salary increments, and professional development for potential senior leaders.”
SPAC continues to grapple with ongoing challenges of student attendance, engagement and behaviour. Christine says issues around student wellbeing, mental health support, and creating safe and inclusive learning environments have been increasing in schools. “We need to find ways to support the most vulnerable students – there is a need for accessible healthcare providers and social services for schools.”
Managing teacher workload
Kevin says senior school leaders also have increasing responsibilities in the implementation of new government initiatives such as the Review of Achievement Standards and the implementation of Te Mātaiaho. APs and DPs have a challenge managing the workload of staff as they are required to make these changes, in addition to all their normal teaching work.”
She said other challenges include addressing potential teacher shortages and implementing strategies to attract and retain quality educators, especially in certain subject areas or geographic locations.
Adapting to the increasing reliance on technology was a significant challenge. “This involves managing the integration of digital learning tools, addressing the digital divide, and ensuring equitable access to technology for teachers and students, and that schools have access to digital tools to prepare for online exams.”
Kevin says a challenge for the committee itself is communicating with the people it represents. “We have always struggled to get connection with those we represent, so investigating and implementing other modes of consulting and informing members in senior positions should be high on the agenda.”
Opportunities for Pasifika members
Christine would like to see SPAC involved in creating specific mentorship programmes or development opportunities for Pasifika members in senior positions, and the establishment of reliable support networks or forums for them. “This platfom could facilitate connections, share experiences, provide mutual support, and discuss specific challenges or opportunities faced by Pasifika educators in senior roles.”
Kevin’s advice for anyone interested in joining SPAC is to “go for it. You get great professional development and networking opportunities at the same time as providing a valuable service for those you represent. Your voice should be heard.”