September 28, 2005
Minister Tells NZEI Planned School Reorganisations Are Over
Caretaker Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, has today told NZEI Riu Roa members that there will be no more centrally planned school reorganisations once the five year mororatorium on the network review programme has ended.
The news was met by a round of applause from the 400 NZEI members attending the union's Annual Meeting in Wellington. After addressing the conference Mr Mallard was asked by a primary teacher in the audience if he intended to continue with the school reorganisations once the five year moratorium, he announced in February last year, had ended. He replied, "No."
Mr Mallard said school reorganisations would only occur when they were requested by communities, or as a result of reports by the Education Review Office indicating that children's education was at risk.
The Minister announced the moratorium following strong opposition to the school network reviews that led to school closures and mergers in cities and towns throughout the country.NZEI had just begun a week of action to highlight members concerns about the reviews when the moratorium was declared.
"We had more than 2400 members working at schools that were under review when the moratorium was announced," NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr, said today.
"We were concerned, not only about their jobs, but about the disruption the reviews were causing to students' education."
"That's why NZEI members applauded the Minister when he told them there would be no more nationally generated school network reviews, when the current moratorium ends, unless communities requested them or ERO indicates that children's education is at risk," said Colin Tarr.
Today was the sixth time Mr Mallard has spoken at NZEI's Annual Meeting as Minster of Education. NZEI National Vice President, Irene Cooper, who was today elected to become National President of the union next year, told Mr Mallard that there were a number of initiatives that NZEI members have welcomed in the last six years while he has been Minister of Education.
These included the return of kindergarten teachers to the state sector. Improvements to staffing for schools through the staffing review group. The introduction of classroom release time for primary teachers. The roll back of bulk funding of primary teachers salaries. The introduction of the 10 year early childhood education strategic plan. Scholarships for Maori teachers. And the amalgamation of Group Special Education staff back into the Ministry of Education.
Irene Cooper says NZEI members now look forward to addressing problems caused by the bulk funding of school support staff. To reviewing the school operations grant. And successfully implementing the policy of reducing class sizes for five year olds starting primary school, to a ratio of one teacher to 15 children.