Education Minister

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Dear Santa


What would you wish for?

~ Dianne 

Bye Hekia: No party, no celebration.


My devices were alight today with messages from colleagues, friends, parents and social media folk sending smiley faces, high fives and happy dance gifs. She’s gone burger, they said. Hekia Parata is outta here. At last we’ll be rid of her and her mad cap ideas. It was like New Year’s Eve or winning the World Cup – there were celebrations across the land.

I appreciated the messages – it’s good to see so many people were as dismayed with Hekia’s performance as Education Minister as I have been and equally glad that we will soon see the back of her.

But, the general feeling of jubilation and relief at knowing we’ll soon be out from under the shadow of someone who has systematically undermined teachers, support staff and parents – not to mention students – in her bid to forge ahead with her neoliberal plan for the New Zealand education system, is tinged with trepidation; who (and what) comes next?

Because much as Hekia has a reputation for being snippy and unapproachable, she isn’t the main problem. The larger problem – and the one that will very likely not change much, if at all – is that of the government’s policies themselves. And, as stated National Party  (and ACT) ideology, the neoliberal policies and direction remain much the same no matter who from the party is in charge.

If we truly want to celebrate – if we want to run around the house with pants on our heads cheering like we’ve won gold, quaff wine in celebration, and look hopefully towards a future where students are at the centre of all education policy decision making – if that’s what we want, we don’t just need a new Education Minister, need a new government.

Enroll here.

Dianne Khan, Save Our Schools NZ

Charter Schools: No amount of spin can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

lipstick on a pigSave Our Schools NZ is pleased that Education Minister, Hekia Parata, has confirmed there will not be another round of charter schools this year and hopes that this signals the beginning of the end for the ideological experiment.

Questions in Parliament today revealed that not one charter school has enrolled a single high needs student, making clear that rhetoric that charters would cater for priority learners is what was suspected all along, great PR and nothing more.

Accountability has been another concern since NZ charter schools were first proposed.

“With the promised assessment of the first five schools held back by Hekia Parata, official information requests stalled, and the Northland charter school’s ERO report delayed, it seems clear that even the best spin could not make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear,” said Dianne Khan.

It seems, from her announcement today, even the Education Minister agrees.


Tony Ryall insults Kiwi teachers in his valedictory speech

Tony Ryall MPNational MP, Tony Ryall, in his valedictory speech last week, managed to insult every teacher in Aotearoa with this nasty comment:

“The Prime Minister also gave me the job as Minister of Health. I have got to say this has been the best job in the Government. You work with quality people every day who are dedicated to the welfare of New Zealanders. I wake up most mornings and I turn to my wife and say: “Ugh, imagine being Minister of Education.””

Oh what a wag – how I laughed….

Strangely enough, he didn’t mention anything about the fact that those same quality people have just voted to strike.

12,000 of them.

They are totally fed up of being underfunded, underpaid and treated like door mats.

Just like teachers, in fact

Bye Tony, I’d like to say you’ll be missed, but ….






Just How Bad Does The Education Minister Have To Be Before She Is Sent Packing?



Just how utterly incompetent (not to mention offensively rude) (oh and dodgy) does someone have to be to be ousted into the netherworld by John Key?

Oh wait, they have kept Banksy around, so that answers that question.

Seriously though, Hekia Parata has presided over a disastrous year in education.  I’m not talking about policies here – I mean, any Education Minister will hit resistance not matter what, and despite me and millions of others thinking she is on the wrong track with Charter Schools and what not, I am thinking now of the way in which she has managed things.

The technology teachers/class sized debacle in May was just the start.  I mean, really, how can such a huge and serious change be proposed without the facts and figures being checked?  That we a total embarrassment and made the Ministry of Education looks ridiculous.

Then there was the impending closure of Salisbury School, which caters for girls with serious learning and emotional difficulties – a closure which courts ruled illegal and halted.  Illegal.  Get that – Hekia Parata, the Education MINISTER, is either not aware of the laws regarding school closures or is wilfully ignoring them and hoping to get away with it.  Either way, it’s not a good look.

Next, Christchurch.

Beaten and demoralised by 2 years of quakes, apparently this was a fabulous time to propose closures and mergers of Canterbury schools.  The facts are well known, but for anyone who has been on the moon or meditating for the whole of last year, just know that schools were listed as having buildings they did not have, had long jump pits listed as liquefaction, were refused requests under the Official Information Act because of advice from Hekia Parata and the Ministry urging Christchurch Council to, well, obfuscate, fudge and fib their way into NOT giving any information out.  Again the courts ruled that the behaviour was … you guessed it … illegal.


Next bit of dodgy dealing – the way Charter Schools are being foisted on NZ.  How utterly underhand to have the consultation period in the school holidays.  Oh wait, didn’t they do that in Christchurch, too… it’s almost as if it was done on purpose… go figure.  The panel supposedly considering whether we should have Charters, and if so, what form they they should take, is being overseen by John Banks’ bedfellow Catherine Isaacs and the panel has not one teacher, principal, or any other education expert on it.  Yeah, that sounds mighty impartial to me.

So there you go… a terrible year.

Oh wait… what’s that you say…?

Did someone whisper Novapay?  What?  It was rolled out despite advice that it should not be?  What?  Errors are still in the thousands after months of being live?  But Hekia fronted up and tried to sort it out, eh, so that’s something…. WHAT!  She got an underling to take the flack?  AND she beggared off on holiday without a by your leave?  But she’s back now, eh, and sorting it ou….EH!!!!  She’s still away?  After a month.

Says it all, doesn’t it.

Really, just what do you have to do in the National Party to be given the boot?

Read more:

Hekia Parata Thanks School Communities

The Education Minister put out this statement today:

Hekia Parata

13 NOVEMBER, 2012

Minister thanks school communities

Education Minister Hekia Parata would like to thank the 35 school communities in greater Christchurch who took the time to meet with her over the last two weeks.

Ms Parata visited 35 of the 37 schools proposed for closure or merger as part of the Government’s Education Renewal Plan.

“I would like to thank those schools’ communities for their engagement, generosity of spirit, and commitment to their children’s educational future. I got a real sense of each community and their hopes and plans for their children’s education.

“Throughout the meetings, some schools were emphatic that they did not want the timeframe to be extended, others wanted it to be extended to various times, and one school asked for a 5-year moratorium.  Of the 35 schools, there was no consensus.

“It was apparent to me that a lot of the schools were getting on with their submissions and were seeking certainty.’’

Ms Parata says she has decided to extend the consultation timeframe for the Aranui cluster only.

“Due to the complexity of the Aranui cluster, the fact that there is one proposal for all five schools and that the creation of a new facility is not proposed until after 2017, I have decided to extend the timeframe for their submissions until March 7, 2013.’’

All other schools’ submissions on their proposals are due on the current timeframe of December 7, 2012. The Ministry of Education has already received submissions from three schools. The Minister will advise boards of her decisions in mid-February 2013. Work on the cluster plans is not due until mid-2013.

Of the 215 schools across greater Christchurch, 13 are proposed for closure and 18 for merger.  It is also proposed five Aranui schools will form a new Year 1-13 campus and two Banks Peninsula schools will become attached to the Akaroa Area School while remaining on their own sites.

“Our Government has committed $1 billion to rebuilding the education sector in greater Christchurch over the next 10 years.  It’s not simply about putting back what was there, but focusing on what can be done better. There is every opportunity for Christchurch to become a leading education city,” Ms Parata says.

PPTA Responds to Education Amendment Bill

“Education bill for privateers not pupils

16 October 2012

The government appears to be ashamed of its latest attack on public education, shunting out its education amendment bill at 5pm yesterday.

Unregistered teachers, double-bunking and the usual spin were all characteristics of the bill which PPTA president Robin Duff said favoured privateers over pupils.

“It appears the government is not proud of the steps it is taking towards privatising New Zealand’s education sector. Why else introduce the bill the night before parliament actually sits?”

The bill was yet another step towards the privatisation of New Zealand’s education sector, Duff said.

“It claims to introduce a different type of school – a ‘partnership’ school – which is just a private school with 100% public money. It might be more accurate to describe these as ‘parasitic schools’,” he said.

Parents, teachers and students in Christchurch should also be very worried, Duff said.

“Not only will they have to contend with unwanted charter schools but the bill’s reference to ‘multiple timetables’ seems to open the door to more ‘double bunking’.”

Two schools sharing the same site at different times was a measure taken during a disaster situation, but it was fraught with difficulty.

“It is not a practice we would advocate being rolled out across the country,” Duff said.

“The minister of education’s crowing about the importance of teacher quality rings hollow when she is now legislating to excuse charter schools from employing registered teachers.

“It invites questions as to whether the minister has any belief at all in the need for teachers to be trained and qualified. If this is okay for charter schools then perhaps this is the plan she has for all teachers?”

Duff said it was disappointing that with all the serious issues facing education in New Zealand the minister insisted on focussing on a red-herring solution like charter schools.

“After 20 years of operating in the USA there is no evidence of charter schools providing better outcomes for students.

“It’s not better, it’s not innovative and it’s not for New Zealand,” he said.

 CONTACT: PPTA PRESIDENT ROBIN DUFF 04 913 4227 OR 021 636 108″


Government Back Down on Class Size Changes

This afternoon the Minister of Education announced that the changes to teacher:student staffing ratios will not go ahead.

Congratulations to everyone who talked, wrote, emailed, phoned, and discussed this issue, keeping the issue alive leading to the Government scrapping this ill-thought-out policy – great job.This back-down came after enormous pressure from the education sector and the public in general, working together with one very loud voice saying enough is enough.  It’s great to see what can be achieved when people are fighting for the same cause.

However, please don’t feel the battle is over.  This was just one skirmish of many that is needed in order to protect New Zealand’s public education from constant undermining by Government.  We still have to ask questions about:
  • standardised testing (National Standards) – why are we adopting them, how do they work, do they help raise achievement, are they reliable indicators of learning?
  • proposals for performance pay – how is this going to raise the standard of teaching and learning?  Will it lead to the danger of  teachers merely ‘teaching to the test’?
  • the introduction of charter schools – why are we closing schools then paying more out to have another privately run school open in its place?  What evidence is there that Charter Schools lead to any improvements, and why not use the money to invest in measures to help the school currently there?
  • the publication of primary school league tables – what are they for, who do they help, how are they calculated?
and more.
You’ve been amazing in getting one policy stopped.  Now please take the time to find out about and challenge more.
Save Our Schools

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