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Report on Education Amendment Bill is "a sham"

Nick Smith
Opposition Education Spokesperson

19 June 2000

Select Committee report on Education Amendment Bill is "a sham"

The submissions of hundreds of schools and thousands of parents opposing the dismantling of bulk funding and the reintroduction of zoning have been ignored by the Government, says National's Education spokesman Nick Smith.

The Education and Science Select Committee's report on the Education Amendment Bill has been tabled in Parliament today.

"The process of preparing that report has been a sham. Hundreds of schools made submissions showing how bulk funding had helped them close the gaps and improve educational achievement. But the Government has just ignored them.

"School after school made stunning submissions on how children had benefited from the flexibility of bulk funding, to the point where Government members sat in embarrassed silence. Yet when it came to deliberation, the Government just rammed the Bill through," Dr Smith says.

"The Government's reintroduction of school zoning is also being pushed ahead against the majority of submissions. The policy is being dressed up as necessary to ensure parents can get their children access to a school. But the committee did not hear a single case where the new rules introduced this year were not working. This was found to be a facade for the real agenda of restricting parental choice and propping up poorly performing schools.

"The Government was also heavily criticised for imposing rigid rules for enrolment on schools and their communities. These would add to bureaucracy and undermine Tomorrows Schools. The new rules won't work for every school and the ballots will cause huge disruption for hundreds of schools and thousands of pupils.

"This Bill will do to schools' confidence what ACC and the ERB have done to business confidence. The Government should take heed of the message from submissions and not proceed with its backward looking changes," Nick Smith concluded.

For more information contact Nick Smith (03) 547 2314 or 025 241 0123

BACKGROUNDER:

The Education and Science Select Committee received a total of 7100 submissions, of which 94% were opposed to abolishing bulk funding. These were made up of 387 substantive submissions of which 93% were opposed and 6722 form submissions of which 94% were opposed.

Here are some excerpts from those submissions:

"I just get so angry with the Government talking so much about self-determination for Maori and closing the gaps when bulk funding is enabling us to do just that - and they are taking it away from us." F Lovatt Davis, Principal, Oturu School, Kaitaia Decile 2, 85% Maori Roll

"Bulk funding has been like the bogey-man at the bottom of the garden for schools. For those like us at Auckland Point School we've been to the bottom of the garden, met the bogey-man and concluded he's actually education's best friend." Craig Martin, Principal, Auckland Point School, Nelson

"We have reversed a rapidly decreasing roll. Academic results are soaring. In mathematics our pass rate has doubled. We've put huge emphasis on numeracy and literacy, and all is working well. Our results are stunning and we can't see why anyone would want to go backwards." Annette Joyce, Rotorua Girls High School

"There is no where for a Principal to hide. Normally, you can avoid a need or issue on the basis that the Government won't let you do it. Bulk funding means you have to take responsibility for your whole schools affairs. The abolition of bulk funding will prove to be a greater blow to the delivery of quality education than any other move." Allan Peachy, Rangitoto College

"Our fifteen West Coast schools have chosen to be bulk funded because it is the only way we can get our fair share of the staffing resource. Our region has always been difficult to staff - bulk funding provided us with some equity." Matt Bateman, West Coast Principal's Association

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