Ministry of Education: Monitoring and supporting school boards of trustees.

My staff carried out a performance audit to examine the effectiveness of the Ministry of Education's monitoring of, and support for, school boards of trustees in their governance role.

Boards are an important part of New Zealand's education system. The elected trustees are mainly volunteers from the community, who commit a substantial amount of time and effort to the role. A high number of new trustees are elected every three years (for example, 44% of trustees were new to the role after the 2007 elections). Given the range of responsibilities trustees have and the diversity of issues facing them, I consider that providing boards with adequate training and support is important for getting the best out of the education system.

Overall, the Ministry provides some useful training and general support for all boards. It also has good systems for supporting boards that are clearly at risk of poor performance.

However, the Ministry needs to more actively monitor the whole school portfolio so that it identifies boards that would benefit from support earlier, and provides that support promptly. The Ministry also needs to ensure that it supports boards consistently throughout the country.

It is difficult to say whether the training and support provided is making a difference to governance of schools. The Ministry needs to focus more on monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of its training and support in terms of governance of schools.

I encourage the Ministry to tap into the wealth of information and knowledge it already has about schools, and use this to improve the effectiveness of its training and supporting school boards.

The Ministry has responded positively to the matters raised during the audit and is committed to implementing the recommendations.

I thank the staff of the Ministry for their co-operation during the audit. I also thank other people from the education sector who contributed to our audit through interviews and by providing information.

Kevin Brady's signature

K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

23 June 2008

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