By: Laurel Stowell

Video: Whanganui Candidates visit Whanganui High School

These days students are allowed to talk in class provided they are on task, Whanganui High School teacher Rebecca Hardy says.

“Do you ever got detention for talking in class now?” she asked her Year 12 statistics class.

They said that never happened.

Which was lucky, because Whanganui Labour candidate Steph Lewis had sat down next to a girl and was quietly talking to her.

Ms Lewis was one of four candidates who each spent half an hour in a Whanganui High School class on Friday morning. They were “normal” classes, not the best or the worst, Manawatu/Whanganui Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) co-chairman Grant Collie said.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. It could just be pure and simply that they sit at the back and watch, or kids and teachers involve them. The whole idea was to make this very organic.”

It was Mr Collie’s Manawatu/Whanganui PPTA branch that came up with the idea, leading up to its conference in Palmerston North on Friday night. The candidates he approached leapt at the opportunity.

So did others. National PPTA president Jack Boyle came along for the ride. New Zealand First list MP and education spokeswoman Tracey Martin wanted to take the New Zealand First space and Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty was expected later.

By Friday night candidates will have sat in on classes in schools across Ruapehu, Whanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and Horowhenua, Mr Collie said. That evening the association begins its conference with a pre-election education forum, which teachers across the region can attend.

Mr Collie’s hope is that bringing candidates and MPs together will lead to cross-party education agreements, which he said would be “utopia for teachers”.

In the English class she went to Green candidate Nicola Patrick began a spirited conversation with students about te reo Māori. Labour’s Steph Lewis sat in on a statistics class, Harete Hipango was in a Chinese language class and Tracey Martin was in a chemistry class.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle


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