For Immediate Release February 24, 2003
From: NZEI Te Riu Roa Media Release
NZEI Tells Govt To Stop All School Closures
A delegation of teachers, principals and officials from NZEI Te Riu Roa has today told a group of Labour MPs that the Government must stop all the school closures that the Minister of Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, is planning to implement next year.
NZEI Te Riu Roa represents teachers and principals in primary, intermediate, middle and area schools and support staff in both the primary sector and in secondary schools.
More than 2400 NZEI members are at schools that are currently under review or were reviewed last year. The union brought 40 of those members to Wellington and they met with Mr Mallard, yesterday afternoon. Half of those members went to Parliament today and met with the six Government MPs who help the Minister formulate education policy.
NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr, led the delegation to Parliament.
“We told those MPs that their government must stop all the school closures that the Minister is planning to implement next year,” says Colin Tarr.
“Closing schools means the principal, the teachers and the support staff all lose their jobs. That is extremely dangerous as experienced and skilled staff leave the areas they have worked in for years or quit education altogether.”
“This is hugely disruptive for the children involved in a closure as they have to transfer to a brand new school and may have to make this transition without the support of teachers that they know and trust and who know their education history.”
“This is why NZEI opposes closures and says they must be stopped.”
“If schools are reorganised, after a review, NZEI says they should be merged not closed. That’s because in a merger the teachers and support staff are retained and continue to work with the children they know and who know them.”
The NZEI delegation also told the Government MPs it is essential that the collective employment agreements covering NZEI members include clauses that provide them job security when their schools are reorganised.
“The Government must do all it can to ensure that the school reorganisations being planned now, to take affect next year, do not drive experienced principals, teachers and support staff out of education.”
The delegation also expressed its concern at a trend that has emerged in the current reviews of intermediate and middle schools being axed and Year 7 and 8 classes being decapitated from primary schools.
“In areas such as Invercargill, 11 and 12 year old children at intermediate and middle schools, or in Years 7 and 8 at primary schools, are being told they will have to transfer to a secondary school next year.”
“NZEI opposes using 11 and 12 year old children to prop up struggling secondary schools.”
“These children are undergoing a degree of change in their physical, emotional and intellectual development, that is second only to the changes that occur in infancy.”
“They have particular educational needs that are being ignored in school reorganisations scheduled to be implemented next year.”
The delegation also told the Government MPs they are concerned that the Minister is planning to have one principal run two schools in Upper Hutt.
“Every school must have its own principal. They are the school’s educational and administrative leader and have to be accessible to the students and the staff.”
“NZEI is totally opposed to having principals run more than one school,” say Colin Tarr.