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Are 17 scholarship passes not good enough?


23 February 2009
Media Release:

Are 17 scholarship passes not good enough?

Education Minister Anne Tolley’s decision to sack the Selwyn College Board of Trustees earlier this year and replace it with a commissioner needs serious questioning.

At the time the Minister said she based her decision on a 2008 ERO review of the school. However the Minister would also have been aware that:

•At the end of last year confirmed enrolments at Form three were up considerably on previous years.

•The school results in AsTTLE tests (generic tests of student progress) last year for Year 9 and Year 10 were very good according to the Ministry of Education’s Board Advisor Collene Roche.

•The school’s 2008 academic results confirm the increased achievement from some 43% achieving Level 1 NCEA in 2006 to 71% in 2008. A similar story applies to NCEA Levels two and three.

•49% of Year 12 students achieved Level two NCEA in 2006 which increased to 63% in 2007.

•In 2008 38% of Year 13 students achieved Level three NCEA - up from 32% in 2007.

•The 2008 results also show higher percentages of Merits and Excellences in Years 12 and 13. (The Ministry advisors to the school said they were looking for precisely this!)

•The 2008 scholarship results show the school’s Year 13 students gained a very impressive 17 scholarships across 10 subjects - History, Geography, English, Chemistry, Physics, Visual Art, Statistics, Calculus, Drama and Classics. Is there a decile four school anywhere in New Zealand to match these results?

Sacking a school board is a step taken as a last resort according the Ministry of Education. However Anne Tolley took this dramatic step despite knowing the positive developments at the school and its strong academic results.

It is clear to us the decision was made at the behest of local National MP Alan Peachey who has “had a knife to the school’s back” for many years. Peachey wants the school to abandon students from low income communities and cater instead for the children of wealthier local families. This is likely to mean abandoning programmes the school runs for refugee children for example. It would also mean sidelining the school’s relationship with Ngati Whatua O Orakei whose strongly supportive board representative was sacked along with everyone else by Tolley.

The sacked board was elected with very strong parent backing in 2007 and has worked hard to continue the improvements which are reflected in the academic results from 2008. It has introduced a school uniform (at Year nine initially) for example – something some media reports have attributed to the new commissioner.

QPEC has always called for swift Ministry intervention in schools where student achievement or student safety is compromised by poor board or school management policies. However in this case the minister has intervened despite the opposite being demonstrably the case.

An explanation is needed from the Minister. Which of the positive developments at the school is she unhappy with?

QPEC would like to see BOT elections held immediately so the parents can reaffirm their faith in what appears to be a top-performing board.

John Minto
QPEC National Chairperson

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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