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Mayors back concerns over school closures

Mayors back concerns that school closures will severely impact communities

Recent statements that the Government’s current review of schools could affect the sustainability of rural communities are supported by mayors from Local Government New Zealand’s Rural Sector Group.

“We are concerned that the decisions are made only on efficiency grounds and do not take into account the role that schools play in rural life,” says David Owen, Chair of the Rural Sector Group.

“The current review appears to be narrowly focused on educational outcomes. Schools play a much larger role in rural communities than simply educating students. Schools are frequently the community centre, the holder of knowledge, the contributer of social capital and the maintenance of community networks within rural New Zealand. Education is also a key driver of economic development in a region. We strongly recommend that this wider role of schools is recognised by the Government”, says Mr Owen.

In November representatives of the Rural Sector Group discussed the proposed school closures with the Minister of Education, Hon Trevor Mallard, and sought assurance that local authorities will be consulted on future policy changes affecting rural education. The Minister acknowledged the need for local input and encouraged Local Government New Zealand to consider participating on the National Rural Education Performance Group.

“We conveyed to the Minister our view that the Government’s education management strategy seeks a strengthening of family and community involvement,” says Mr Owen.

Local Government New Zealand is the national voice of all 86 councils of New Zealand.

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