At the end of October the Ministry published its Annual Reporting Circular (no. 2012/10). Key elements in this circular are:
- Annual Report – in particular the requirement to report school level data against National Standards (NAG 2A)
- Timeframe (31 March to the auditors, 31 May to the Ministry – no changes here)
- Online Annual Report filing – no more paper copies – this is a major change
The key thing to note is the shift in emphasis on to planning and reporting on student achievement as a priority alongside the statutory requirements for financial reporting.
Many (probably most) schools see their annual report as the report they have to give their auditors and then file with the Ministry to comply with the requirements for financial management and control.
This is a real pity. The annual report is the opportunity for the board of the school to report on their successes in their planning which has driven student progress and achievement. The annual report is not all about money.
The Ministry has difficulty in getting a uniformity of reporting from so many organisations (2500 schools) without having to put in place a prescriptive outcome requirement. One of the enormous benefits we have had from self managing schools is the ability to report in our own fashion. What we risk is that if we do not “get the picture” and meet the essential objectives then the Ministry will impose stricter guidelines. This will impact on our flexibility.
The introduction of the Kiwi Park School model financial reporting template is an example of this. To be fair to the Ministry they do need some level of conformity so that they can easily upload the data into a database for Government analysis. It is up to all of us to ensure that this data is consistent across years and across schools or the decisions made based on this data may be flawed.
The same goes for performance achievement reporting. The introduction of National Standards (following NCEA for secondary education) and the requirements for reporting outlined in NAG 2A indicate the direction we should all be heading. Schools who have not recognised this (especially those who have opposed National Standards) have had their head in the sand. Of course that’s not to say that the introduction of National Standards was perfect – it was not. However we need to recognise that as boards we have a responsibility for managing the taxpayers money and we are therefore obliged to report on how effectively we have done this – not just through our financial statements, more importantly through what we have done to raise student achievement.
If you would like to talk more about this topic, or if you would like to give your board the opportunity to debate it then please contact us.