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Some Review Announcements Ignore Students Needs

For Immediate Release February 10, 2003
From: NZEI Te Riu Roa Media Release
Ms04/05

Some Review Announcements Ignore Students Needs

“NZEI Te Riu Roa members are concerned that the scale and speed of the current round of school reviews has led the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, to make some announcements on school reorganisations that don’t make sense educationally,” says the union’s National President, Colin Tarr.

NZEI Te Riu Roa represents teachers and principals in primary, intermediate and area schools, support staff in primary and secondary schools, early childhood teachers, special education staff in primary and secondary schools and school advisers based in tertiary institutions.

“NZEI Te Riu Roa believes the Minister is moving too far too fast with his programme of reviews and reorganistions. More than 230 schools are currently going through this highly stressful and disruptive process,” says Colin Tarr.

“NZEI recognizes that the provision of schooling does need to adapt to population changes but believes the Minister is moving too far ahead of those changes in reorganising schools now, on the basis of the number of students he thinks they might have in 15 years time.”

“Questions have been raised about how statistically sound the Minister’s projected roll drop figure is. This undermines the basis for the rationalisation programme and highlights the danger of moving too far too fast.’

“Some recent school reorganisation announcements do not take into account the educational needs of the students and threaten to drive good teachers and principals away from the profession.”

In Invercargill Mr Mallard has announced that all primary schools in the city will end at Year 6 which means 11 and 12 year olds, in Years 7 and 8, will be made to attend secondary schools. He also plans to merge the city’s two intermediate schools and only middle school with secondary schools. The Minister has also announced the closure of Timaru’s only intermediate school.

“These announcements ignore the educational needs of Year 7 and 8 students. These pre-adolescent children are at a stage in their development, in terms of the rate of growth in their physical, emotional and intellectual development, that is second only to infancy.”

“It is disturbing that the Minister is reported as saying he wanted to retain intermediate and middle schools in Invercargill, but could not do that and also retain two co-educational secondary schools.”

“This shows the proposed reorganisation is not being driven by the educational needs of the children.”

“NZEI rejects the trend that is emerging from the current reviews of using 11 and 12 year old children in Years 7 and 8 to prop up secondary schools.

“Mr Mallard should look at boosting the resources for struggling secondary schools not using 11 and 12 year old children to try and fix the problem.”

“Last night the Minister announced that he wants to close six schools in the central Northland and on the Russell Peninsula.”

“Closing those schools means all the staff lose their jobs which is hugely disruptive to children’s education.”

“That’s why NZEI policy advocates mergers rather than closures when schools are
reorganized. That’s because when schools are merged the teachers are retained and have the opportunity to teach at the new school formed by the merger.”

“I have been involved in school mergers, as a principal in Wainuiomata, and know that if the schools had been closed rather than merged we would have lost some very good staff. Their jobs would have been axed and they would have left the area.”

“The cost to the children would have been huge as they would have lost teachers who knew their learning needs. It can take years to recover from the loss of these staff.”

“The speed and scale at which the school review programme is being carried out
means there is a risk that changes will be made to schools that are educationally unsound,” says Colin Tarr.

ENDS

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