Taranaki Teachers Call For Mergers Not Closures
Wellington – Staff at the Taranaki primary schools that the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard wants to close are calling on the Minister to abandon his closure plan and use the less disruptive process of merging the schools.
The Ministry of Education is reviewing 15 schools in the Opunake area and Mr Mallard has announced that he wants to close five primary schools in Opunake, Oaonui, Te Kiri , Pihama and Riverlea.
Fifty six teachers, principals, and support staff from the schools under review gathered for a paid union meeting in Opunake, during school time yesterday afternoon, to show their opposition to the Minister’s plan to close the schools.
They unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Minister, “to abandon using closures to re-organise schools in area reviews and instead continue to use the merger process which is both more fair for staff and less disruptive to the learning programmes and environment of students.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Vice President, Colin Tarr, told the meeting that he had first hand experience of a school re-organisation as a primary principal in Wainuiomata where a number of schools were successfully merged.
He told the meeting that closures in Wainuiomata would have led to “educational chaos and caused major disruption to the children’s education,” as all of the staff would have lost their jobs and the school boards would have been disestablished.
“If that had happened in Wainuiomata I know we would have lost some very good school staff because they would have simply found jobs elsewhere.”
And he added: “the real losers in this situation are the children whose learning lives would be turned upside down.”
As well as passing the resolution calling on Mr Mallard to abandon his closure plan, the staff at the Opunake meeting wrote more than 30 letters to MPs including the Prime Minister Helen Clark, New Plymouth Labour MP, Harry Duynhoven, Associate Education Ministers, Turiana Turia and Marian Hobbs, the chairperson of the education and science select committee and New Zealand First education spokesperson, Brian Donnelly, and National’s education spokesperson, Nick Smith. The letters call on the MPs to join them in calling on Mr Mallard to abandon his closure plan.