By: Tom Dillane
National’s Nikki Kaye will hold 30 public meetings across the country early next year to engage with teachers and parents she believes remain ignorant of the radical reforms proposed in the Government’s Tomorrow’s Schools Review.
The report released by an Independent Taskforce on December 7, proposed the biggest shake-up of the New Zealand education system for 30 years – removing most of the powers currently held by school boards of trustees.
While acknowledging the Tomorrow’s Schools Review undertook “significant consultation”, Kaye believed many of the 19,000 parents and trustees on school boards did not know important details of the changes.
“From my perspective I think it’s really important there are multiple people out there informing people about the recommendations,” Kaye said.
“They’ll be lots of educators that will be aware of the report, but they’ll be lots of parents that aren’t aware of the detail. And I’m finding there are even boards of trustees that aren’t aware of what’s being proposed.”
Kaye said National had “serious concerns” about the proposal to scrap the 10 Ministry of Education regional offices and set up 20 education hubs in their place with oversight of about 125 schools.
These hubs would oversee a more collaborative approach aimed at benefiting all students in the hub including: sharing principals, teacher support for curriculum and assessment, student suspension decisions, and services smaller schools lack – such as IT and accounting.
Kaye said the Education Hubs would “transfer more responsibilities from parents to bureaucrats” and disempower community decisions on schools.
However, Duty Minister Andrew Little said the National Party and Kaye were “politicising” children’s education, despite it being “great she’s getting out there and talking to folks”.
Little also denied accusations from some principals of larger schools throughout New Zealand the proposed Education Hubs would remove decision-making powers from school communities.
“We want the board of trustees to focus on issues like the character of the school and the content of children’s learning, supporting teachers,” Little said.
“And we want the Ministry to focus on co-ordinating the national curriculum, and making sure the division of labour is clear-cut.
“I’ve spoken to principals who have said ‘look we’ll probably lose some funding under the system, but in the end what’s most important is that the whole of the system works as best it possibly can’.”
The Tomorrow’s Schools Review taskforce is seeking feedback on its recommendations. Consultation is now open until April 7, 2019.
Source: NZ Herald