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Education a Disaster Under Labour

Education a Disaster Under Labour

Despite the economic crises the issue that anyone with children should be most concerned about in the current election is Education. As background to my comments I have taught for 18 years, including six as a Principal, have an Economics degree and Masters degree in Education. I have 3 children aged 17 to 13. I have not yet belonged to a political party and have changed my vote over the years to support the party that best appears to understand the times and needs of the nation. With education Labour has failed dismally over the last nine years and is offering nothing new in this campaign. For the sake of the children of New Zealand there must be a change of government and the people of New Zealand must then get back involved in the full process of educating their children. They must require good policy and implementation from the new government and stop getting pushed aside by massive bureaucracy and help ensure that every school is a good school. We no longer have any ideals towards being the best educated nation in the world. We have accepted a level of failure from pre-school through to university. Being above average in the OECD in some measures is now good enough for the government and they have sold this to the nation. The NZEI and PPTA in New Zealand do some very good things but because they are ideologically tied to Labour they are slow in pointing out the failings that are occurring.

I grew up in a small provincial city where you grew up and left to develop your talents, get educated and get a good job. New Zealand is now that small provincial city and the current government has encouraged that through institutionalized mediocrity. In New Zealand a good school is often successful despite the government rather than because of it. To be excellent students have to overcome the system rather than being inherently encouraged by it. As a former world champion said to my son; “don’t work too hard – this government will never thank you for it”.

New Zealand’s top university (Auckland) is now ranked 65th in the world. There are six Australian Universities ahead of it. Instead of celebrating an election bribe the students across NZ should be on the streets daily demanding improvement in the quality of the education they are getting. It is of note that Helen Clark chose to deliver the bribe at a University that is ranked only 124th in the world. Only 3 of the NZ universities are in the top 200 in the world. Whereas up until recently young people would qualify here and use that to do their OE – many will now understand that to compete on the international job market they should train overseas. My children are likely to do this. Those who go are not likely to come back.

We all know that in Australia you earn 50% more income for the same job. In the last calendar year 47,000 Kiwis have left to seek that fortune. Without radical improvements in education and opportunities to use it here that trend will more than continue. The decline will become exponential.

NCEA continues to be a mess. There are huge barriers to parents and the students understanding it. Despite the dumbing down of the qualification 20% of students are still failing to achieve level 1. In the last few years the NCEA poster schools (St Kentigern’s, Diocesan, St Cuthbert’s) have decided to switch to an international qualification for their higher ability students. Other schools of the quality of Auckland Grammar have long been involved in ensuring that their more able group avoid NCEA.

Economically this is having a major effect. During this decade New Zealand’s economy has grown but what people quickly forget is that it has grown more slowly than other nations. Hence of the 30 countries in the world regarded as “developed” New Zealand has now slipped to 23rd – just ahead of countries like Portugal and Turkey. In the last three years, New Zealand’s economic growth was behind that of the rest of the OECD (1.5% vs 3.0% per year). We may now be correctly considered as the world’s only “undeveloping” nation. Central to this predicament is our failing education and qualification system.

In the last nine years the Ministry of Education has grown massively while quality of education has not. Chris Carter is completely uninspiring as a Minister of Education. Within 4 years of opening Mt Hobson Middle School was featured in North and South magazine’s issue on New Zealand’s best schools. It is innovative and effective working with small class sizes and vastly improving skills and outcomes for students across the spectrum – including those who are genuinely gifted and those with the much discussed condition of dyslexia. As a result we had lengthy visits from John Key, Anne Tolley, Tau Henare, Allan Peachey, Richard Worth (twice) and Rodney Hide. Chris Carter also visited but rushed through the school and showed minimal interest. The best he could do was rub me on the arm in front of a class and tell me that “we all have different tastes” before rushing out.

Because of the “economic crises” other areas are being ignored during this campaign. Every parent wants a great education for their child. What school your child should go to is always a hot topic. Parents are being duped by the current government this election into ignoring this issue. University students are being bribed for their votes and have forgotten that what they actually need are outstanding universities all ranked well into the world’s top 100. It is not too late to make this a central issue – it is where it belongs.

Alwyn Poole (BBS, DipTchg, M.Ed, PstGrdDipSportsMgmt)
Villa Education Trust (Mt Hobson Middle School, Central Auckland Middle School, &


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