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Labour should listen to parents

Hon Bill English - National Party Education Spokesman

21 February 2006

Labour should listen to parents

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says Labour should yield to parent power and allow integrated schools to increase their rolls where there is sufficient demand.

His comments follow media reports that some integrated schools are turning away hundreds of students.

Mr English says Labour's policy to cap enrolments at integrated schools, unless they can prove there will be no impact on the rolls of state schools, is a violation of parental choice.

A recent survey carried out by the Maxim Institute found that 96% of parents wanted the right to choose their children's school.

"Whether the school is state-run, run by a community-owned trust, or is an integrated or independent private school should not matter one bit. Parents will decide which one suits their children the best," says Mr English.

"Some parents like integrated schools because they provide the kind of education or a set of values that they want for their children. Labour should allow sensible increases in rolls for integrated schools where there is strong parent demand.

"But Labour reduces choice wherever it can - by capping integrated schools, by enforcing rigid zoning restrictions and by slapping independent schools with an arbitrary funding cap.

"Labour cannot swim against the tide of parental opinion forever."


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