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Minister: Bulk funding would be a rural disaster

8 June 2005

Minister: Bulk funding would be a rural disaster

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today warned rural communities of the disaster that bulk funding would be to their schools.

Trevor Mallard told the Rural Teaching Principals Conference in Wellington that it was now clear what the National Party was proposing to do to New Zealand schools.

He said bulk funding would be disastrous for rural and isolated New Zealand communities: "National would return to bulk funding – without the financial bribes this time – there would be no need because it would be compulsory.

"The destruction of a collaborative teaching environment aside, it is worth considering how rural schools would fare against large urban schools in a competitive teacher market under bulk funding.

"Instead of improving quality National would remove all the safeguards to quality teaching so that the world would be divided between elite providers, almost inevitably in urban areas and the rest, which is where rural schools would be left."

Trevor Mallard rejected the idea that too much was being driven centrally: "Our state schools are already governed by Boards representing the community. According to the OECD, New Zealand schools have high levels of autonomy in comparison with schools in many other OECD countries, including areas such as budget management, assessment policies, textbook selection, course content and course options," Trevor Mallard said.

Trevor Mallard also said rural communities needed to be worried about National's desire to privatise schools.

"The strange idea of Trust Schools is nothing but a blatant attempt to privatise our state education system.

"How do we know this? Because in May 2003 Dr Brash said in a speech: 'For my part, I don't care who owns the schools' before going on to bemoan the concept of a state education system," Trevor Mallard told the conference.

ENDS

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