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Zoning still major frustration for parents

Zoning still major frustration for parents

A new report released today shows that parents want more direct control of their children's schooling with zoning identified as a major frustration.

The report by Maxim Institute, A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand is based on independent qualitative research and records what parents think of different aspects of the schooling system. When asked what parents consider when deciding on a school, the biggest issue for parents was zoning.

Parents are critical of zoning, saying that it is inherently unfair because it favours those with money. "It's hard for good people to go into the really high priced areas to get the really good schools for their kids" an Auckland participant in the research says. A Christchurch participant noted that zoning "brings in a bigger element of 'you have the money, you have the choices'".

Director of Maxim's Centre for Education, Paul Henderson says this confirms that the Ministry of Education must re-consider the accessibility of schooling for all students. "There is an issue of access and justice here. Parents recognise that there is something unfair when only a small proportion of parents can afford to choose where their children are educated."

Mr Henderson says the report shows that if there was a feasible alternative to zoning, parents would welcome it. He says that the Minister must now look at allowing greater accessibility by examining the zoning regulations, looking at how schools are funded and lifting roll caps on schools that have capacity.

The report highlights a number of other factors that parents consider when deciding upon a school for their children. The most common of these include the atmosphere and environment of the school, the reputation for discipline and behaviour, the quality of teachers, the reputation of the school and the principal of the school.

"This report is a reminder that parents can be trusted to make the right decisions for their children when it comes to schooling. Parents are well informed and full of common sense. They are passionate about the schooling of their children but are excluded from many important decisions at the moment. Parents want this to change and the Ministry must pay attention", says Mr Henderson.

Maxim Institute commissioned an independent researcher to undertake the qualitative research for A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand. Consumerlink was chosen to select a cross-section of parents, representing children from low decile primary and secondary schools, high decile primary and secondary schools, low socio-economic areas and children who attended private or integrated schools.

The full report and a summary of the report are available on request or from Maxim's website from Monday on http://www.maxim.org.nz/

Maxim Institute is a public policy think-tank funded by donations.

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