School system boss says waters were muddied over re-opening

THE head of Queensland's school system Jim Watterston has blamed a "break-down of communication" for the controversial re-opening of many Central Queensland schools just days after Cyclone Marcia.

The Director General of the Department of Education and Training, Mr Watterston, told the Bulletin that the major concern surrounding the decision to re-open CQ schools two days after the cyclone struck was the level of clarity around that decision making process.

Principals under pressure to re-open after Cyclone Marcia

"If principals had really felt confident in Cyclone Marcia to be the gatekeeper of when their schools opened, then a lot of the schools wouldn't have opened so early and that's where the failure was," he said.

"While I think the best of intentions were demonstrated, clearly some people made it difficult for the decisions not only to be made in a collaborative way but also be communicated well so everyone understood where the single point of truth was in terms of what the decision was."

"It's been clear to us that there was a break-down from a communication point of view.

"The decision making process should have privileged principals in the end to be the guardians of their own school environment, but when other people got involved it muddied the waters.

"What we've learnt going forward is that we need to get our processes right so we do privilege those principals and communities so they can feel empowered to make those decisions."

Mr Watterston attended this week's Queensland Teachers' Union meeting in Rockhampton to reassure the educational staff in the region that improvements will be made.

"We know we've got the processes right but what we need to be confident about is that everyone understands their role," Mr Watterston said.

"The further you get away from the decision making the less local context you have, so if it was me making decisions as Director General it would be worse, so what we need to focus on is where the decision is best made, get that advice from those people and make sure there's no interference in this process, which there was in this case."



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