31 Jul 2015

Rural principals in need of support

2:43 pm on 31 July 2015

The Principals Federation said its members at country schools need more support.

President Denise Torrey said rural schools faced particular problems because of their small size and their distance from the main centres.

Winding roads contribute to the isolation of many rural schools.

Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

She said the federation was still working on what assistance rural principals needed, but it appeared they would benefit from having advisors to help them.

"Many rural principals are inexperienced or new, and we already had a survey out at the beginning of the year saying that we have an attrition rate of rural principals at three to five years - people were leaving," Ms Torrey said.

"If we could have someone looking after them, building their capacity, helping connect them with other people and sharing success stories, because we've got to find what does work - and I suspect that the answers are actually in the sector.

"We need to advocate maybe for more resources, but the main one will be about getting a principal advisor," she said.

She said money was not necessarily the biggest problem facing rural schools, many of which have a high rate of funding per student because of their small size.

But she said they sometimes struggled to get enough staff, particularly if children have special education needs.

The Education Ministry said it was working on ways of supporting rural principals, but believed extra funding isolated schools already received was sufficient to cover their extra costs.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs