Leadership Partners

Remote video URL

[Stephen Soutar – Principal, Awapuni School, Palmerston North] I’m a principal in a five-teacher school and I can just get isolated in my own world and not even find the time to get out and discuss things with other principals. And you really need to be able to do that in this job.

[Adam Campbell – Principal, Postgate School] I spent three days up in Whanganui working with other principals learning how to be a Review Officer. I came back and then did school reviews back down here in Wellington, with Review Officers.

[Fiona Gibson – ERO, Manager Review and Improvement Services] So to be in another school and to see how another school principal or other leadership team is operating, what systems and processes they’ve got in place, how they look at the data, it’s valuable learning in every school you go into.

[Adam Campbell] For school principals going in and working for ERO, I don’t think there’s any better professional learning that they can do. Going into a school, seeing what’s happening in the school, comparing it to their school. It may be that they’re going to learn a lot from that particular school, which is great. Or they might learn about what’s ineffective practice as well.

[Hamish Ruawai – Principal, Palmerston North Intermediate School] Some of the best time I found were at dinner with other reviewers and you’re critiquing teaching and learning, talking: “What did you see today?”, “Yeah, but did you really think that was effective questioning or was it deep questioning?” Those informal conversations really get you thinking around teaching and learning, so it raises the bar as a principal to think: “I wonder what that’s happening like at my school. And how do I know?”

[Stephen Soutar] I think it’s improved me as a principal. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the job. Education system changes all the time so you have to keep developing and I think it’s a really good avenue.

[Marieke Whitwell – ERO Review Officer] We’ve had so much change in education. And we’ve had teachers and leaders taking on board new pedagogies, digital technologies. Seeing those things in action is exciting.

[Hamish Ruawai] ERO teaches you to ask the question that needs to be asked. “Is the pedagogy right for this child? How do you know you’re making a difference?” It’s certainly taught me to be more rigorous and challenging around assessment data, accelerating achievement. Those are conversations that I was probably not so tight…Now, pretty straight in that area.

[Adam Campbell] I learnt about internal evaluation: about how schools use it, or see it, or don’t see it. I learnt that as a country we all have the same curriculum, we all have the same training. We all say that children are the most important thing to us, but we do things oh so differently. We are all so different in what we do at schools.

[Marieke Whitwell] I’ve had the opportunity to work with two principals who have worked alongside me in a team. And that’s great because they bring with them the immediacy of what is reality on the ground.

[Hamish Ruawai] It made me a lot more aware of the uniqueness of our kids in New Zealand. So, a lot more thoughtful in terms of the needs of teachers. I used to really focus a lot, and I still do, on students, but actually teaching and learning’s the core business. And so how can I be more effective in developing great teachers and educators? So now I’m in that space of: what can I do to get the best out of these educators so kids get the best deal

About Leadership Partners

Our Leadership Partners programme provides successful school leaders with the opportunity to work alongside ERO Evaluation Partners in our external school evaluation process. The programme enables school leaders to develop skills and understanding of evaluation for improvement, and provides the opportunity to learn from others when reflecting on a school’s improvement journey. As such, it is a unique professional development experience that will also enhance ERO’s work in the sector.

Leadership Partners engage in a four day national induction workshop in evaluation, including our methodology for school evaluation. They then join an ERO partner for up to ten days evaluation work each term, for four terms.

If you are interested in becoming a Leadership Partner, please email LP@ero.govt.nz. Please provide information outlining why you are interested in the programme and about the current and previous roles, strengths and experience that would enable you to add value to our work.


Information for Programme Applicants

What is the level of time commitment I need to make to the programme?

We will choose several small groups of senior leaders who are able to commit to a four day induction workshop at the end of a school term and then up to ten days’ evaluation work with an Evaluation Partner each term, for four terms.


What criteria are being used to choose the Leadership Partners?

To maintain trust and credibility in the programme, the criteria below will be used to help support the selection process. These criteria are not exclusive and will be used on a case-by-case basis..

  • Leadership Partners will be experienced principals or senior leaders. It is recommended that Leadership Partners have at least five years in a principal/senior leadership role.
  • Previous ERO reports for the schools that Leadership Partners are drawn from will have indicated  a history of continuous school improvement and a strong commitment to equitable and excellent outcomes for learners.
  • Leadership Partners will have a willingness to commit to up to ten days a term, for four terms, to the programme.


Can I choose the weeks I want to review?

We will negotiate the timing for evaluation work with you to accommodate the needs of our evaluators, the schools they are currently involved with and your circumstances.


What is involved in the support and induction programme?

The National Induction programme will involve up to four days in an ERO National Office. The content of the programme will cover:

  • ERO as an organisation and our role and mandate in the Education Act
  • Treaty of Waitangi commitment
  • Culturally and contextually responsive evaluation
  • Evaluation in the NZ education context
  • The roles and responsibilities of a public servant
  • ERO’s Code of Conduct
  • Te Ara Huarau Evaluation Methodology
  • Evaluator Capabilities and Principles of Practice
  • Practical evaluation activities, and use of the School Improvement Framework
  • Skills and strengths you bring to ERO and the contribution you see yourself making


The National Induction programme is followed by learning and development in the local offices. This involves the Leadership Partner working alongside their Evaluation Partner, and fully participating in evaluations over the course of the year. Opportunities for reflection and ongoing development of evaluation practice will be a planned part of the programme of induction and support.


What does it mean to be designated as a Review Officer?

Leadership Partners will be designated Review Officers for the period of time that they are involved in the programme.

Review Officers are statutory officers designated under the Education and Training Act 2020, and exercise powers of entry, investigation and reporting through various sections of the Act. To be designated and to exercise those powers, the Chief Review Officer must be satisfied that Leadership Partners are both suitably qualified and fit to carry out the work required of a Review Officer and to exercise those powers. This includes understanding that each Leadership Partner must abide by ERO’s Code of Conduct and expectations for professional integrity, fairness and confidentiality. Discussion about how Leadership Partners apply the Code of Conduct will form part of the induction programme.

Partners will be initially designated for a year following their induction programme. Re-designation will be possible after this time with agreement from ERO and the Leadership Partner.


Who pays for this professional development opportunity?

While undertaking this professional learning opportunity, Leadership Partners will work with ERO based on a written agreement with their employer, the school’s governing board of trustees.

Leadership Partners remain in the employment of their school board while on review with ERO, and as such, their salary continues to be paid by their employer.

ERO will cover costs associated with attending the National Induction programme and travel, accommodation, and actual and reasonable costs incurred during the weeks you review with ERO.


What are the practical arrangements for me while on review?

Travel and accommodation arrangements will be made for you by your Evaluation Partner and ERO support staff.

While on review, Leadership Partners will meet with and travel with their Evaluation Partner to the school (where practical). If staying away overnight, accommodation will be organised by ERO at a motel/hotel on ERO’s approved list. Where applicable, Leadership Partners will use their own car to travel to the nearest office, airport, or school and be reimbursed accordingly.

You will be expected to work alongside ERO for the full time out on review. There may be opportunities to return to your school and/or work remotely when the onsite phase is over, depending on review timing, school location and evaluation tasks. Your Evaluation Partner will meet with you after any onsite phase to share records and analysis, reflect on the evaluation process, discuss any goals you wish to set, and offer support you may need for subsequent reviews.


What happens if I need to leave during a review because I am urgently needed back at my school?

Should an emergency arise, please notify the Manager Review and Improvement Services responsible for the evaluation. ERO acknowledges your primary responsibility is to your employing school.


What resources are provided by ERO?

You will have access to ERO resources necessary to support your Leadership Partner role – hard copy resources and stationery and electronic note-taking sheets will be supplied during induction. Leadership Partners are not ERO employees and will not be eligible for ERO credit cards, computers, phones or email addresses while working alongside their Evaluation Partner. Communication will be through secure personal email addresses. This may be a school email address, but one that can only be opened by the Leadership Partner.


Will I be working out of my region or away from my home?

Evaluators often work away from home and sometimes outside their region. Please let us know if this will be a problem for you.


Do I get a choice of where I review and what I do on review?

Leadership Partners will work alongside an Evaluation Partner. They will evaluate within the sector that they are most familiar with. They will be included in reviews where they accompany their ERO Evaluation Partner.

During selection and induction, Leadership Partners will be asked about the particular strengths, interests and expertise they could contribute to ERO’s evaluations. Placement with Evaluation Partners and on reviews will take this into consideration.

The Leadership Partners programme may be a first step for leaders who wish to work for ERO on a longer term or more regular basis. If a Leadership Partner does decide to continue working with ERO, working relationships will be in accordance with secondment arrangements, and may involve secondees coordinating reviews.


How does ERO manage any conflicts of interest I might have?

In joining ERO, and thereby becoming a public servant, Review Officers undertake to abide by ERO’s Code of Conduct and the State Services Commission’s Standards of Integrity and Conduct. Both these codes discuss integrity and avoidance of conflicts of interest: the guidance paper that accompanies the standards code, Understanding the Code of Conduct – Guidance for State Servants, states that:

“We must avoid circumstances where our personal interests or relationships conflict with interests of our organisation. We must also avoid situations where there could be an appearance of conflict. Our actions need to be fair and unbiased and should always be able to bear close public scrutiny.”

The ERO Code of Conduct states that Review Officers:

“…have a duty to apply objective consideration and judgement to their work at all times. They will remain free of any conflicting interest or improper influence and should avoid any situation which may be construed as constituting a conflict of interest or which may impair objectivity. They must be impartial when undertaking reviews and will interpret and present evidence fairly. They will resist any pressures that would influence their impartiality.”

Real or perceived conflicts of interest do arise. During the induction process and prior to your placement on any reviews, there will be opportunities to discuss how to recognise and avoid a conflict of interest and how Review Officers deal with a range of situations. ERO will avoid placing you in situations where there is a real or perceived conflict of interest.