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Wealth shouldn't decide students' education access

Mallard says personal wealth shouldn't decide students' access to education

The idea of elite trust schools is an explicit call for a two tier education system where access is decided by the size of a person's wallet, Education Minister Trevor Mallard warned today.

Speaking at the New Zealand School Trustees Association's (NZSTA) annual conference in Auckland, Trevor Mallard said only some parents would be able to access National's elite trust schools, with the rest accessing only what a severely reduced education spend would pay for.

"How would access to elite schools be regulated? Because it would not be through zoning," Trevor Mallard told the audience. "I think you would find that the answer would be the market mechanism. Brash promotes Trust schools, which would regulate access according to the fees that parents would be willing to pay. "The Government believes that all students should have a right to attend a quality local school. Parental choice is a good thing – but it is actually about having access to the best quality education wherever you live – and about having the choice of going to your local school."

Trevor Mallard said the trusts schools proposal was much more extreme than reforms under Tomorrow's Schools 15 years ago, which delivered governance structures that are amongst the most autonomous in the OECD.

"How much further could you go? I would suggest that what is being proposed is the removal of the democratic element from our school boards – either politically appointed boards, or maybe self-appointed in perpetuity and with the ability to dispose of schools in much the same way Taranaki Electricity assets have been treated.

"This would be nothing less than the privatisation of our state education system. Our schools are already run by the community. Trust schools seem to be a way of removing the participation of parents from the running of their schools," warned Trevor Mallard.

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