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Community Schools Alliance urges government to reject Hub

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Community Schools Alliance urges government to reject Hub plan

Schools from around New Zealand are joining together to reject a proposal that would sever their accountability to local communities and hand direct control of schools to a new government bureaucracy.

The Community Schools Alliance, a growing group of 43 primary and secondary schools and Kura a iwi, launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce plan to replace direct parental involvement in schools with “Education Hubs”, and its implications for students. The campaign was kicked off with full-page advertisements in the New Zealand Herald and the Dominion Post, and will be supported by social media and a website for more information.

Under the plan, the “Hubs” appointed by Wellington would take over the responsibilities of individual schools’ boards of trustees elected by parents.

“The Hub plan would strip New Zealand’s world leading, community-led public education system of what makes it unique,” said Glen Denham, Principal of Massey High School in West Auckland.

“The Community Schools Alliance membership represents urban, regional and rural primary and secondary schools, from the whole range of decile areas. We are religious and secular schools, state and state-integrated schools, and kura,” Mr Denham said.

“The range of schools moved to speak up publicly about the Hub plan is so great because it threatens the diversity of the New Zealand education system itself,” said Pat Newman, Principal of Hora Hora Primary School in Whangārei.

“Right now the 2431 state and integrated schools in New Zealand are accountable to boards of trustees elected from parents and community members. We respond to our communities, their values and their expectations. That will be different for every community – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to run a school, only what’s right for a particular community.”

“The hubs will seize control of everything from property planning and finances to setting enrolment policies and school sizes, to determining the outcomes of suspensions.”

“It’s no exaggeration to say that with the powers transferred from individual boards of trustees to ‘Hubs’, government officials will be centrally determining how schools are run and this will impact on the culture of individual schools,” said John Kendal, Principal of Northland College in Kaikohe. “The Hub plan will mean principals and teachers will be directly employed by ‘Hubs’, not Boards of Trustees, which may move them between schools in a region.”

The Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce is currently consulting on its report through meetings with the public and teachers and principals, and will report to the Education Minister in April.

“News reports show consultation meetings on the proposal are being poorly attended,” Mr Denham said. “We fear that parents don’t know the full extent of this radical change, and just how much it will tip the balance away from local communities towards the Wellington bureaucracy.”

“That’s why we will be raising awareness, and why we urge Chris Hipkins to reject these ‘Hubs’ that would dismantle the school system in New Zealand as we know it.”

“Instead of taking this opportunity to focus on the issues that everyone in the sector agrees on – such as teacher professional development and conditions and providing extra support to those schools and students who do want and need it – the Hub plan imposes a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy to solve many fictitious issues that will not improve education for all.”


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