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Nats rural tour too late for small schools

Labour
2000 web siteLabour education spokesperson Trevor Mallard said National's tour of rural New Zealand starting this week was a desperate last minute bid to win back support from heartland New Zealand.

Trevor Mallard spoke to small school principals in Wanganui today and said that Labour had become the main political party watching out for the interests of small rural communities and the needs of small rural schools.

"Over the past few years, I have been to a wide range of small, isolated rural schools and listened carefully to their concerns. Those concerns will be reflected in Labour's education policy to be released within a couple of months," Trevor Mallard said.

"By contrast, National's market driven approach to education provision has hit small schools hard. Their 'National is working for the country' tour of rural communities will be seen for what it is - a blatant election year attempt to try and disguise the fact that their policies have hurt rural communities.

"In the schools sector this has been obvious. The 1995 staffing changes put rural schools in the same basket as large urban schools with no recognition of the difficulties they face like the increasing administration work for teaching principals; the logistics of staff taking part in inservice training; and the lack of support services. These are all issues which have been drawn to my attention when I visit these schools. Labour is determined that school staffing schedules be revisited to take those difficulties into account.

"We will also reject the contestable approach to advisory services and resource development currently opposed in the Government Green Paper on teacher education.

"This would unfairly disadvantage rural, isolated and small schools where it is quite conceivable that the entire professional development funding allocation from the Government could be used up by travel to a one day course. Yet the smaller and more remote that schools are, the more desperately they need advice, support and professional development," Trevor Mallard said.

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