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Schools’ review must not disempower parents

7 December 2018

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s education system are concerning, particularly proposals to take power away from parents, and must be carefully considered, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“National agrees with the need for structural change, better governance and greater collaboration, however these proposed changes are far reaching and must be carefully considered.

“We have serious concerns about the creation of around 20 new Crown entities called Education Hubs, which would transfer more responsibilities from parents to bureaucrats. We will fight to ensure parents continue to have a strong role in the education of their children.

“While the report is short on detail on how the Hubs would work, it’s clear they would see a major reduction in the power and duties of Boards of Trustees and parents in our education system, including taking responsibility for expulsions and exclusions, final decision making rights on enrolments and zoning, and the employment of principals. Around 19,000 parents and trustees who currently sit on boards could be relegated to advisors with little ability to influence the education of children.

“With the creation of around 20 Hubs supporting around 125 schools each being recommended, there will be concerns about the costs of this number of Crown entities and whether we will end up creating further bureaucracy. Hubs will also make decisions on the appointment of principals who will be employed on five year terms and potentially moved from school to school.

“These changes cover almost every aspect of our school system, including governance, teaching and learning, learning support, and enrolment schemes.

“National will play a significant role in public consultation to ensure these issues are appropriately considered, including holding public meetings to ensure that peoples’ voices are heard.

“National recognises the hard work of the independent taskforce in trying to come to grips with the complex and hard issues. We see merit in some of the recommendations, especially around learning support and the adoption of an equity index, which is something we have previously advocated for.

“We understand that this is a once in a generation chance to make some significant changes to our education system and look forward to carefully considering policy implications and necessarily scrutinising areas of concern.”

ends

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