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Rural Schools: If They Ain't Broke Why Fix Them?

Rural Schools: If They Ain't Broke Why Fix Them?

The rules for rural school network reviews seem to be changing - and not for the better says Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Vice President Charlie Pedersen.

"FFNZ members no longer have confidence that rural school reviews are based on education outcomes. Despite concern expressed to Minister of Education Trevor Mallard by many groups, the review process is failing rural communities.

"There are a number of schools being reviewed, particularly in Timaru and Wairoa, that have outstanding Education Review Office (ERO) reports, stable rolls and an excellent environment for education, yet these have been marked for closure.

"The process pits school against school and community against community - this is unacceptable. It is undermining parent's confidence in their choice of future school for their children, and is affecting the ability of rural employers to attract staff due to the uncertainty of the situation.

"Mr Mallard's plans fly in the face of fellow Minister Jim Anderton's quest for regional development - perhaps the Ministers should talk.

"It appears the Ministry of Education has not considered some of the long term impacts that the reviews may have on rural communities and has simply transplanted urban ideals for education into a rural situation.

"Trevor Mallard has assured the Federation that these reviews are not about saving education dollars. It now appears they are not based on improving education opportunities either, one can only guess that hidden somewhere Mr Mallard has a grand plan for the future of rural education," Mr Pedersen concluded.

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