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Another Mallard U-Turn

03 December 2004

Hon Bill English MP National Party Education Spokesman

Another Mallard U-Turn

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has been forced into another embarrassing backdown, this time over his early childhood policy, says National Party Education spokesman Bill English.

"Mr Mallard's set a ridiculous deadline for his requirement that all centres have a registered teacher on duty at all times.

He didn't understand that at least two teachers would be required to cover meal breaks, sickness and holidays, as well as time for professional development.

"He was told months ago it just wasn't possible, even if everyone wanted it to happen. The backdown was inevitable once he was advised that up to 400 centres could close, affecting the childcare arrangements of up to 20,000 families.

"Mr Mallard should apologise for the grief he's caused thousands of people in the centres, who have been worried all year how they could achieve the impossible.

"The new regulations are more flexible and will sensibly allow child-care centres at least another 12 months to fulfill the requirements.

"Too many centres have been replacing experienced, but less-qualified staff, with newly qualified inexperienced teachers because there has not been time or opportunity for existing staff to upgrade their qualifications. "Parents have been saved by election year. No politician could tolerate such disruption for thousands of families that rely on their childcare arrangements for economic survival.

"Mr Mallard will be removed from education in the cabinet reshuffle because the sector is tiring of his bullying style and his bad judgment over big issues like school closures and early childhood teacher registration," says Mr English.


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