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Let Parents Choose, Minister

Let Parents Choose, Minister

Monday 22 Sep 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Education

ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington today said she was not surprised that Education Minister Trevor Mallard's review of Wainuiomata schools last year failed to find any improvement in education standards for the area, in light of a recent ERO report.

"This massive, ongoing review of New Zealand schools is an exercise driven by the bean-counters. Mr Mallard has been totally captured by his officials. Throughout the country, teachers, principals, children and their parents are living in trepidation waiting for the axe to fall on their schools," Miss Coddington said.

"I have been visiting these communities and talking to parents. Last week I was in Waikato. This week I'm in Russell. A Board member of a 60-pupil school - which is financially sound and delivering quality education - told me their school will be `reviewed' in two years. These poor people are wondering what they can do in the coming 24 months to save their school.

"If something isn't broken, you don't try and fix it. We should be celebrating these schools, with their strong community and parental support, not crushing them.

"This ERO report showed that schools are focussed on financial reporting, to the expense of teaching children literacy and numeracy skills. This is not new - a 1999 UNESCO study showed that New Zealand principals spend more of their time tied down with paper work than any of their overseas counterparts.

"ACT's education policy closely follows the Swedish and Dutch system of `Letting Parents Choose'. Funding follows the child. This means schools - large, small or in-between - can remain open and free from heavy-handed Government intervention - provided they are delivering a quality education, are financially sound, and parents are satisfied," Miss Coddington said.


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