Dr Kevin Shore has started in his new roles as chief executive officer of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office and of the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools.
In a November 3 Lighting New Fires newsletter, Dr Shore paid tribute to his predecessor in these role, Paul Ferris.
“Paul has made a remarkable contribution to integrated schools in New Zealand from his four decades as a primary and secondary principal in the Catholic system, his time with TCI through to the last five years as CEO of APIS and NZCEO. He has been a passionate and committed voice in support of the integrated schools’ sector and I would like to thank him for his service and his care in my transition to this role,” Dr Shore wrote.
He noted that Mr Ferris will be staying on a little longer “as he looks to finish off an important piece of work on behalf of our sector”.
Dr Shore, who was previously the principal at St Peter’s College in Palmerston North, wrote that integrated schools can be “very proud of quickly we have responded to the needs of students in our care during the pandemic and there are great examples in the integrated sector of positive and constructive pastoral responses that both schools and proprietors have taken to promote human dignity and participation in education”.
“The Secretary of Education reminded me of this recently in acknowledging the work of our sector in supporting our students, families and staff.”
The newsletter also noted that the previous Minister of Education “has deferred a decision regarding property maintenance funds for state integrated schools arguing he was unable to provide the funding because demands on the Covid-19 fund required him to keep a balance to use in the event of another outbreak”.
“This was a disappointing outcome given the indications that Paul Ferris had received during an extended negotiation period in 2020. As a result, the NZCEO board have asked Paul to continue to lead this negotiation and to pick it up with the newly-appointed Minister of Education. We are preparing a comprehensive response based on our belief that our integrated schools are a full partner with the state school sector.”
Integrated schools were left out of a $396 million funding package to upgrade school properties announced by the previous Government late last year. Integrated schools said at that time that they were exploring all options, including taking the Government to court.
The November 2020 newsletter also noted that the new Lunches in Schools Programme being rolled out is a “source of concern” in the integrated schools network.
“State-integrated schools continue to contact this office with concerns that neighbouring schools at the same decile or higher are included and they are not,” Dr Shore stated in the newsletter.
In a story in August about St Joseph’s Catholic School in Whakatane not being included in the programme, Radio New Zealand reported that the ministry said it was using a new “equity index, which was being developed to replace the decile system, to inform decisions about which schools were in the lunch scheme”.
The index reportedly used official, anonymous data about individual children’s family circumstances unlike the decile, which used data about groups of households in a neighbourhood.
Dr Shore wrote: “This office is continuing to advocate to the Ministry of Education on your behalf as the lack of transparency regarding the application of the equity index and the decisions that are being made is leading to our schools questioning whether we are viewed as important partners in our education system. We will continue to raise this issue with our Ministry of Education colleagues and advocate for a process that is fair and transparent.”