New Zealand Education Policy Limits Freedom
New Zealand Education Policy Limits Freedom And Choice And Is Out Of Step With Australia, Says College Board Chairman
New Zealand educational standards are slipping and policy makers should acknowledge the experiences of Australia, where their Government has admitted the failure of its broad range education programmes, according to Scots College Board Chairman Roger Holmes Miller.
Speaking at the Scots College prize giving last night, Mr Holmes Miller said recent Australian legislation has reaffirmed support for freedom and choice for parents.
“The Australian Government has made a strong commitment to the right of Australian parents to choose the most appropriate schooling for their children and has supported the devolution of decision making to parents and communities.
“Our Government’s announcement of capping and probable reduction in Government assistance to independent schools ensures that parents’ ability to exercise the right of choice is now even more limited than in the past. There are now 43 independent schools in New Zealand. The Government’s policy for independent schools is clearly to reduce the level of support and hence the number of independent schools, which reduces the number of alternatives available to New Zealand parents.
“I have absolutely no doubt that all parents want to place their children in an environment that best suits their educational and emotional needs. The ability to choose allows parents to meet these needs. Competition and choice ensure high quality and innovation – exactly what this country needs.
“If New Zealand is to become a successful knowledge economy, the Government should heed the experiences of Australia, review its policies and, like the Australians, reaffirm its support for the freedom and choice in education provided by independent schools.”
Many parents have made real sacrifices to provide their children with an education that meets their needs by sending their children to independent schools such as Scots College. Parents should have the right to choose the standard and quality of education for their children and this right and freedom is under threat from current Government policy, Mr Holmes Miller said.
“The standard and quality of education offered by independent schools must be high enough to entice students from state funded institutions into a fee based environment. This proves that the lifetime value of such an education must outweigh the cost to parents of the access model as opposed to free state provision.”
In the public system and under new zoning requirements, not only can parents no longer choose the type of education most suited to their children’s needs, but they can no longer even choose the school their child attends, Mr Holmes Miller said at the prize giving.
“The role of independent schools is vital to the maintenance of education standards and in allowing individuals to discover their potential. Excellence is a result of personal endeavour. Success is the result of individual application. In one sense, the Government’s policy for independent schools could be labelled “tall poppy syndrome” at the highest level - limiting competition, freedom of choice and innovation.”
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