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Schools’ financial troubles signal need for system

Media Release
17 December 2008

Schools’ financial troubles signal need for system review – PPTA

The financial crisis at Marlborough Boys’ College is a stark illustration of the need to seriously re-examine New Zealand’s schooling system.

The PPTA is calling on education minister Anne Tolley to urgently review the Tomorrow’s Schools initiative as boards struggle to find the knowledge and experience to make the system work, junior vice president Kate Gainsford says.

“The financial situation at Marlborough Boys’ has reached such a critical level that the board is now asking for a $1.7 million loan to bail it out. At the same time we are witnessing a meltdown at Fairfield College in Hamilton. Suggestions that the answer is to throw more money at the problem are simplistic and wasteful,” she said.

“There is no point in pumping money into the system without a review of the structural problems”.

The Tomorrow’s Schools model puts parents in charge of school governance, regardless of whether they have the qualifications, time and specialist knowledge to do the job.

“The concept of boards of parents autonomously running schools is highly simplistic given the complexity of running a school,” Gainsford said.

“It is asking too much of parents and often it is more good luck than good management when boards do succeed.

“It is not the individuals at fault but the system that is to blame. The principal and board at Marlborough Boys’ were being the image of Tomorrow’s Schools entrepreneurs.

“But in the end it’s the parents, teachers, students and the community left carrying the can when schools implode”.

PPTA supports the idea of the profession working with parents to run schools, and there are examples of much better ways of doing this - as can be seen in NZCER chief researcher Dr Cathy Wylie’s examination of self managing schools in Edmonton Canada

“It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to re-examine New Zealand’s schooling system and we would like to see the Ministry of Education take research like this into account,” she said.


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