Peter Hughes appointed Acting Secretary of Education

December 19th, 2012 at 12:56 pm by David Farrar

The State Services Commissioner has announced:

The State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, today announced that he has accepted the resignation of the Secretary for and Chief Executive Ms Lesley Longstone.

Mr Rennie said that the last six months have been especially challenging for the Ministry of Education.  Despite the best efforts of the Chief Executive to work through a number of issues, there now needs to be a focus on re-building the critical relationships that have been strained.

Following very careful thought and discussion, Lesley and I have decided that the best interests of the Ministry would be served by her stepping down and the appointment of a new Chief Executive, Mr Rennie said. …

Mr Rennie said he was grateful to Victoria University of Wellington for supporting the secondment of former Public Service chief executive as the Acting Chief Executive and Secretary for Education. will take up his role from 9 February 2013. The State Services Commission will advertise for the permanent role in the New Year.

This has the potential to make a significant difference. Peter Hughes is the former CE of MSD and despite the huge complexities of that ministry, was twice judged top performing public sector CE by the Trans-Tasman panel.

By contrast, the Ministry of Education has consistently come near the bottom of the ratings for the 40 or so core public sector agencies. This has always been a huge concern when you consider the importance of education to New Zealand.

The departure of Longstone and appointment (for now) of Hughes, is an opportunity to change things for the better. I look at what I regard as the three main educational stuff ups of the year. They were:

  1. The Budget announcement on increased class sizes in return for improved teacher quality
  2. The Christchurch schools restructuring
  3. The Novopay performance

The 1st issue was a political failure. The Government failed to define what they would do to improve teacher quality, and hence it was like asking for a blank cheque. The policy could have worked if the work had been done on what precisely would be done to improve teacher quality – then people may accept the trade off. The responsibility for that one rests with the Minister, but to be fair to Hekia the decision was a collective one by Cabinet – not hers alone.

The 2nd and 3rd issues were primarily operational failures by the Ministry. The Minister is accountable for their performance, but not directly responsible. In this case, seeing the departure of the CE, and a very competent (temporary) replacement announced is exactly what should happen for such operational failings.

Hughes has a huge task ahead of him, to make changes to the Ministry. There are many good people there, but the structure and culture as a whole are not currently up to the job.

Enemies of the current Government will claim that everything that has happened has been the Minister’s fault. As I have said, she is accountable and there has been political failures also. But to be honest if you really care about improving the NZ education system, you’d be welcoming the appointment of someone like Peter Hughes to be Acting Secretary of Education.

The facts Hughes has agreed to take the role on, is very significant also. He had left the public sector. He would not take on the role unless he had confidence both in the Minister, and in his ability to work with her to make change for the better. He pretty much could have had his choice of any public sector job he wanted when he left MSD.

I look forward to seeing how 2013 goes for Education. It could be very different to 2012.

Tags: , , ,

48 Responses to “Peter Hughes appointed Acting Secretary of Education”

  1. thor42 (922 comments) says:

    If Key had any brains or BALLS, he would sack Parata and appoint Crusher Collins as Minister of Education.
    Collins would make *mincemeat* of the teacher unions. In would come pay-for-performance, and anyone striking against that policy would be sacked.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. greenjacket (418 comments) says:

    thor42: “appoint Crusher Collins as Minister of Education”
    +1

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Pete George (22,866 comments) says:

    The facts Hughes has agreed to take the role on, is very significant also. He had left the public sector. He would not take on the role unless he had confidence both in the Minister, and in his ability to work with her to make change for the better.

    Unless his brief is to work with a different minister.

    But the implication of this seemingly well prepared post is that Parata will remain.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. scrubone (3,050 comments) says:

    I’m yet to be convinced that the Novapay issues are anything but (always expected) early teething issues generating hysteria stoked by millitant unions.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. DrDr (110 comments) says:

    I actually feel quite sorry for Lesley Longstone, at least she wasn’t afraid to front up to be interviewed. Her minister is a bully and I am sure they did not see eye to eye on many things. The stuff-ups this year have been spectacular and have largely been focused on saving money, but not always taking everything into account. The resistance from the communities in ChCh to the school closures has been an embarassment for all those involved in supplying the shoddy information and those who believed it and when it was found to be wrong, decided to keep the bulldozer moving. As for Novopay, that was a car crash waiting to happen, it might have started under Karen Sewell but the implementation under Longstone’s watch has been disastrous. Quite frankly the Minister and her ministry need to lift their games. Otherwise I would expect Parata’s resignation or dismissal in the early part of 2013.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Pete George (22,866 comments) says:

    scrubone – that’s an interesting contention that I haven’t seen explored, it’s easier to just joing the bashwagon. A payroll of that size will aways have data supply and entry problems.

    How much higher is the Novopay error rate to the previous payroll?
    Is it significantly higher than for a comparable implemtation?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. BigFish (132 comments) says:

    The lack of lawsuits and penalties imposed upon talent2 suggest the Ministry might have had a role to play in the problems.
    But who really knows?
    Did get the feeling someone had been thrown under a bus when she fronted to the media.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Cunningham (821 comments) says:

    Parata may well lose National the next election. She has been such a disaster and National need to seriously think about moving her on. She is that gift that keeps on giving to the opposition.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. MikeG (399 comments) says:

    “The 2nd and 3rd issues were primarily operational failures by the Ministry”
    Rubbish re the 2nd issue. The Minister has to have the brains to understand what is being proposed and if it doesn’t make sense then get the Ministry to rework the proposals. The implementation of the proposals is then the operational issue.

    If all these issues where happening under a Labour Govt there would be daily calls for Ministerial heads to roll.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Mark (1,367 comments) says:

    Parata needs a minder as she has been a political disaster for the last 12 months for National. Certainly having a proven performer as CEO will help however it is clear that the minister will be relying totally on his competence which is a governance or oversight version of the tail wagging the dog.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. BeaB (2,060 comments) says:

    The MOE under Chris Carter got us into the Novopay mess and I can’t help thinking Longstone never stood a chance against the ex-union types in the Ministry with them probably whiteanting her.

    For education there must be good solid systems aligned with sound institutional knowledge. Karen Sewell (ex-PPTA) had the knowledge but no idea of systems and this CEO had neither.

    The MOE is a trainwreck at the moment – look at the stuff up with the OIA andf ticking off by the ombudsman.

    We keep being told these public servants have to be paid huge salaries to compete with the private sector and so we don’t get monkeys. How come education is run worse than your average school by a lot of highly-paid monkeys? The whole lot needs a clean out, a new Minister and a new start.

    I just hope Longstone didn’t get much more than her fare home to England.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Mark (1,367 comments) says:

    thor42 (346) Says:
    December 19th, 2012 at 1:04 pm
    If Key had any brains or BALLS, he would sack Parata and appoint Crusher Collins as Minister of Education.
    Collins would make *mincemeat* of the teacher unions. In would come pay-for-performance, and anyone striking against that policy would be sacked.

    this has to be the dumbest suggestion I have seen. Collins career would be in tatters if she had education. It is perhaps better for Parata to take some advice for Ryall who has en equally difficult group of unionised professionals to deal with but we dont hear a peep, it just operates.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. RightNow (6,676 comments) says:

    “I’m yet to be convinced that the Novapay issues are anything but (always expected) early teething issues ”

    It still seems to me like a badly managed project since it clearly didn’t meet it’s milestones, but I understand the previous payroll provider wanted out and gave a deadline (signalled about 5 years in advance) for ceasing supply of services. As that deadline approached the option became Novopay or no pay.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Mark (1,367 comments) says:

    The departure of Longstone and appointment (for now) of Hughes, is an opportunity to change things for the better. I look at what I regard as the three main educational stuff ups of the year. They were:

    The Budget announcement on increased class sizes in return for improved teacher quality
    The Christchurch schools restructuring
    The Novopay performance

    Jaysus DPF are you trying to place all the blame on Longstone rather than conceding Parata is a major problem for Key. FFS who is driving policy here if its not the minister. We can accept Parata is not responsible for Novopay, and she takes advice from her ministry however Parata’s problem is she simply has no instinct for discriminating between good and poor advice which is a bit problematic for those with ministerial ambition.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. kiwigunner (213 comments) says:

    “In would come pay-for-performance, and anyone striking against that policy would be sacked”.

    Classic!

    This on the day that the Politicians pay rise is announced and the Minister of Education rates poorly across all major media.

    Parata is always on about leadership being important – ultimately she leads education. She is the worst education leader in living memory. Where is her pay for performance? – where is her accountability?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Keeping Stock (10,114 comments) says:

    It seems likely that there will be a Cabinet reshuffle early in 2013, especially with Lockwood Smith’s departure now confirmed. I don’t believe that Judith Collins is the right person for Education Minister; I would much rather see Tony Ryall appointed. How often has Health been in the news since National took office? Minister of Health has long been a ministerial graveyard, but Ryall’s tenure has been outstanding. He would be my pick.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    A win for the Teacher’s Unions (did I say that) – I mean the Teachers and the ex Teachers now employees of the Education Department.
    They are now still in “control” of our children.
    Yea – they will be delighted to have cut up the new CEO (who will cost a lot of money to buy out her resignation) – but who cares – it is a win win for the Unions – I see that they are already gloating via the standard).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    Re Hekia – DPF named three issues involving the education and ‘blamed’ her for one of them. As he said, while the Minister is accountable for the other two, she was served a bum steer by her Ministry. I do wonder if there are elements in the Ministry out to ‘white ant’ Hekia. As for the first issue – re class sizes – I would not necessarily call it a blunder, it is right within the bounds of what Niccolò Machiavelli would try on. If the focus was not on this, the focus would have been on some other aspect of reforms.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @scrubone, teething problems last a few days or weeks, not months. This is a full scale incompetent disaster without question.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Dave Stringer (183 comments) says:

    My classes had 30 kids in them, back in the 1940s-50s. JUST LOOK AT WHAT OUR GENERATION MANAGED IN TERMS OF INNOVATION AND TELL ME WHERE WE WENT WRONG.

    The constant meddling with proven teaching methods, to the point where we no longer have teachers and pupils but adult and young learners, and ‘learnings’ has turned a verb into a noun, has much to answer for by the failed teachers who, in the main, populate the Ministry of Education. I remember a chapter on a consultant’s report on the ministry, which criticised some of the operational practices of middle management, being redacted as containing ‘commercially sensitive’ contant – a load of baloney!

    When the number of children in an area goes significantly down, it is not reasonable to expect the number of teachers and schools to stay the same. When there is significant damage to some of the schools requiring significant investment to put back into good order, whilee other physical schools have spare capacity it is not reasonable to expect the number of schools to stay the same. When there are schools with surplus land in good repair and others in need of significant repair, in a place where buildable land has become a scarce commodity, it is not reasonable to expect the number of schools to stay the same.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Dave Stringer (183 comments) says:

    A question for those in the know.

    How many different contracts and contract variations regarding pay does the payroll system have to accommodate?

    AN insight would add perspective to my opinion on the neverpay – SORRY novopay, debate.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. David Farrar (1,856 comments) says:

    Dave – it is well over 1,000.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. thedavincimode (6,539 comments) says:

    peterwn

    The fact remains that after a shakey start and then having tertiary taken off her, Tolley gave every appearance of making a decent fist of it. Parata is an enormous disappointment; particularly given that her background should have made her more politically astute.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Manolo (13,396 comments) says:

    More dithering from Smile-and-dance. Key should sack Parata immediately.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. aquataur (50 comments) says:

    So what do we have

    A failing (or failed) education system and Ministry
    A Minister who (at best) is widely regarded as out of her depth, if not unsuitable for the role
    A competent Chief Executive

    So, as per normal in the Public Sector, the competent one is the one who goes – and the failures remain

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Northshoreguynz (8 comments) says:

    @scrubone, do you get paid , regularly?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Wow, DPF. Talk about letting Parata off the hook there.
    State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie’s statement speaks volumes:
    (quote) “Despite the best efforts of the Chief Executive to work through a number of issues, there now needs to be a focus on re-building the critical relationships that have been strained.”
    In other words, the problem isn’t with Longstone. That means then that the blame for the ‘strained relationships’ falls at Parata’s feet.
    In your post you left out Parata’s response:
    (quote) “Our Government is working hard to ensure that all our children get a better education. I continue to be focused on raising achievement in our schools so that our kids have the opportunities they need to reach their potential.”
    Tjat is the only thing Parata ever says!! The same soundbite over and over again. Has she only got the brain capacity to say one thing!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Off course Longstone will be paid off to keep her silence about her boss. Figures of half a million are being thrown around.
    Meanwhile, Parata (along with all the other MP’s) gets a pay rise – no performance pay here!!

    Oh and we get to pay another $5.50 in tax to fill our car (based on a 50L fill). Merry Christmas :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Pete George (22,866 comments) says:

    Oh and we get to pay another $5.50 in tax to fill our car (based on a 50L fill). Merry Christmas

    There’s no change in the fuel tax before Christmas. And next July (and next Christmas) it will only be $1.50 more per 50 litres not taking into account other fluctuations in prices.

    By the time the fill .09 centes per litre kicks in on two and a half years prices may have doubloed. Or they may have reduced as widespread utilisation of fracking (where Green parties aren’t in Government) brings down world energy prices.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Pete George (22,866 comments) says:

    Lesley Longstone’s letter to staff this morning advising of her decision to resign: Longstone’s letter

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Regardless of the price of petrol, the increase in TAX (not a levy or duty or user-charge or whatever word gets used in place of tax) remains, Pete.
    And I’m well aware that this tax increase is staggered. Doesn’t make it any better. Especially when Bill English has admitted that the increase in tax is needed to keep the budget surplus timeline on track. Along with the increased ACC taxes – the government has ignored the recommendation to reduce them.
    Aren’t National governments supposed to lower taxes??

    Meanwhile our worst Minister of Education ever gets a pay increase.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. RightNow (6,676 comments) says:

    aquataur (25) Says:

    “A competent Chief Executive”

    I don’t know what makes you think that, the interaction my family has had with her show her to be an oxygen thief, along with the Teachers Council.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Neil (556 comments) says:

    As a core National voter and an ex-teacher ,Hekia Parata should quietly resign after a year of hell. ChCh schools,standards, class sizes etc. She was out of her depth. Tolley the same in 2008-2011.
    This zone is a no win for National, dealing with unions like the NZEI and PPTA which are owned by the Labour Party. Key has shown his concern with education by installing two novices dealing with curriculum issues and also human relations. They both failed and have contaminated National.
    Why on earth doesn’t Key appoint someone like Ryall,Joyce,Finlayson,Dunne etc as minister. Someone that understands their department and also unionised teachers. National has never thought of education as a path way to the top politically. The last decent National education minister was Brian Talboys back in the 1960′s.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. scrubone (3,050 comments) says:

    @scrubone, teething problems last a few days or weeks, not months. This is a full scale incompetent disaster without question.

    Is it your contention that there should be zero errors in a pay cycle? It was my point that the current level of errors is so low that it’s probably actually perfectly acceptable and that hysteria is the only reason they’re considered significant.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. tvb (4,210 comments) says:

    When you look back when has there been a successful Minister of Education. And that political failure must reflect on the Ministry. Too often the Ministry gives the impression that they regard the Minister as a mere figurehead. It is the agenda of the Ministry that matters.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. trout (904 comments) says:

    Insiders say that the Education ministry has been taken over by the minority rights crowd (feminists and Maori) leading to the pursuit of special interests at the expense of normal operational activity.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Scrubone @5.08pm
    Easy for you to say. How would you like it if you hadn’t been paid for 3 months?
    Would be you be happy then for some ignoramus on the net to say “the current level of errors is so low that it’s probably actually perfectly acceptable and that hysteria is the only reason they’re considered significant”?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. tvb (4,210 comments) says:

    The teachers union gleefully puts another scalp in their bag of scalps. I feel Judith Collins coming and
    With skin and hair flying. But the ground. Needs careful preparation. Very careful preparation. And then all the resources of the state should be brought to smash them including the SAS.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Manolo (13,396 comments) says:

    Parata is and seems out of her depth, so why doesn’t Key sack her? On the contrary, Smile-and-wave just renewed his confidence in her.

    Deadly duo: la-la land and the supine arrogance of power.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. HB (288 comments) says:

    as a high school teacher with children of own at high school also so with no skin in this game…

    how many parents would need to take the day off work to look after kids due to an NZEI strike?
    if the strike carried on… and on… how much would this cost the country?

    also

    shouldn’t a government base policy on best evidence? or should we carry on blindly following ideology?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I see that apart from DPF’s amusing spinning above to paint the present Minister of Education in the bast possible light he also needed to quickly write two other education posts to deflect as much as possible away form this sorry saga altogether.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. Viking2 (11,147 comments) says:

    Perhaps the appointment of Hughes deserves some scrutiny. Many here will recall the destruction of the the many volunteer otganizations that used to operate within the orbit of MOD. Hughes managed to drive them out or control them so that no one bothers anymore.

    Maybe he will do the same with school related organizations.

    Not a person for personal freedom I’m afraid.

    Govt. must have been short of a candidate.

    And one of the better Ministers of Education was Lockie. Even the PPTA liked him.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I’ve still got a soft spot for Merv Wellington trying to force the schools to reinstate flag-raising ceremonies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    ‘I feel Judith Collins coming and With skin and hair flying.’
    That’s a particularly unsettling fantasy that tvb has.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. Mark (1,367 comments) says:

    The facts Hughes has agreed to take the role on, is very significant also. He had left the public sector. He would not take on the role unless he had confidence both in the Minister, and in his ability to work with her to make change for the better. He pretty much could have had his choice of any public sector job he wanted when he left MSD.

    DPF clutching a straws. Has there been a less competent minister of the crown in the last 20 years?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. Mark (1,367 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, Parata (along with all the other MP’s) gets a pay rise – no performance pay here!!

    Excellent. Parata on performance how ironic would that be

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @scrubone, it is my contention that the payment system should do what it is instructed to do reliably and without error. It is also my contention that it should be designed so that it controls access rights down to each appropriate level of administration so that responsibility for the input and control of its instructions and payment data is sheeted home directly to those administrators within the education department.

    There should be no data involvement necessary from the system providers.

    For comparison, when we implemented the DSW benefit payment system it would have been unthinkable that we were involved in any actual payments.

    I see no reason for you to believe the error rate is acceptable given the multitude of continuing errors and problems experienced by multiple schools on a scale vastly greater than the system it replaced.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. Dave Stringer (183 comments) says:

    WOW
    it would seem (thanks DPF) that there are over 1,000 different employment agreements that this payroll system has to deal with. How anyone could expect an off-the-shelf-package, with some tweaking, to get that right without a VERY long bedding in period is beyond me. Over the years I’ve designed and coded three payroll systems, and been involved in implementing a few more; getting a few errors in the first few runs is, sadly, normal, as the ‘buyer’s” ability to define up front the correct sequencing of an innumerable set of permutations of conditions is usually considerably less then 1.0 . with a thousand agreements, with, lets say, just 5 variables in each, the number of possible permutations is something like 10^8*5
    I looked back at when the last ‘new’ education payroll was implemented, and guess what – it seems there were more problems then that there are even now!
    THE REMEDY IS SIMPLE, get rid of all the special terms and conditions and put every type of employe (teacher, gardener, dogsbody) on the same ones. THat way the issue will be manageable without needing a HAL500 to work out the answers.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.