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Education Minister ducks for cover

Education Minister ducks for cover

Trevor Mallard’s attempts to deflect criticism of his school closure programme by criticising an alleged National policy are misleading in the extreme, says National’s Education spokesman Bill English.

Trevor Mallard was thrown out of Parliament today during questions on his back-down on school closures.

“Mr Mallard has promised to waste thousands of dollar of taxpayers money informing schools about a National Party policy that doesn’t exist,” said Mr English.

Last week the Minister said he would inform all schools that National would close 600 schools.

“At a time when he threatens to close 71 schools, it is unwise for him to waste taxpayers money trying to score partisan points.

“600 closures would be clearly ridiculous and unacceptable to both parents and myself.

“As a result of these calculations done by the Minister I am more convinced than ever that changes to schools should be driven by educational quality and local choices, not by formulaic numbers.

“There are a larger number of on-teacher schools than I realised, and a much larger number with 30% empty space. Clearly those parameters need to be put aside or changed before we settle policy.

“The fact that there are hundreds of schools 30% empty makes it seem so unfair that a small selection of schools with spare space have been targeted for closure.

“For months I have been urging the Minister to listen to communities. The key to any National policy with regard to school closures would be the elements of parental and community input.

“Only the recent public dressing-down by the Prime Minister has made the importance of community choice clear to the Minister of Education,” said Mr English.

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