save our schools

This tag is associated with 19 posts

Admission shows that Charter School funding is higher

Radio NZ ran a story last week with the startling admission that funding for two Whangarei based charter schools was about to fall as they converted into Designated Character State schools from 2019.

The revelation will not be a surprise to opponents of the charter school initiative, as it has been clear from the outset that the original funding model was based on bold assumptions that have simply not come to pass.

Here are the statements in the Radio NZ article attributed to Raewyn Tipene, CEO of the He Puna Marama Trust:

“We won’t be able to fund them [staff] all. That’s a fact: the funding won’t allow for us to have all the teachers we’re eligible for, plus the support staff we are used to having.”

“We will just have to work out how best to do with less.”

Unfortunately the piece did not clarify how much the funding was expected to fall by when they convert.

He Puna Marama, as Sponsor of the two charter schools, will receive nearly $4 million this year for the two schools: $3,074,521 for the secondary school and $883,073 for the primary school.  These figures are published on the Ministry of Education website and are based on the projected opening rolls.  Actual quarterly payments could vary depending on the student rolls as the year progresses.

The article stated that Te Kāpehu Whetū (the educational unit of He Puna Marama Trust) employed 26 staff for its 190 students, according to Mrs Tipene, who said: “That is a higher teacher to student ratio than a state school would have. A number of those staff are not trained teachers, they are mentors who support our senior students.”

Under the contracting out theory of the charter school initiative, the Sponsor may deal with the funding it receives in whatever way it feels is appropriate.  So they can hire more teachers, more support staff, mentors etc. if they wish.  Charter school supporters claim this bulk funding approach is one of the main features of the initiative.  But the real issue has always been the quantum of funding they are receiving and not just how it is delivered.

Charter school supporters have hidden behind the narrative that the Ministry tried to make the original charter school funding model produce a level of funding that was “broadly comparable” to that of a “similar” State school.  But this modelling approach was flawed from the outset.

First, making comparisons with State school funding is problematic, as State schools have many different sources of funding.  The modelling had to try and reduce all of these to a simple approach that could be written into a commercial contract.

Second, State schools’ property is provided by the Crown but charter schools need to rent (or buy) their premises.  So how this component was cashed up has caused problems from the outset, especially if the charter school did not reach the maximum roll on which the property funding was based, or took a long to get there.

Third, it also ignored the reality that the choices parents make are “local” and not “comparable”.  So the problems with the original funding policy mean that the early charter schools have enjoyed far more funding than the local schools they were set up to compete against.

Save Our Schools NZ analysed the 2015 financial statements of South Auckland Middle School and compared these to Manurewa Intermediate.  What we saw was that SAMS received funding per student of $11,740 after paying the cost of the premises it rented from the Elim Church.  In contrast, Manurewa Intermediate received $5,907 in Teachers Salaries and Operations Grants funding per student, with its premises provided by the Crown.

This means the charter schools have been able to offer advantages such as hiring more teachers, which reduces class sizes, hiring more support staff, such as mentors and community liaison staff, or offering support to parents by way of free uniforms, free stationery and so on.

The National government changed the charter school funding model in 2015 but the revised model applies only to charter schools which commenced operations in 2017 and 2018. The government is therefore locked in by contract to the original funding model for the early schools.

A paper from the Ministry of Education to Bill English and Hekia Parata, dated 30 April 2015, set out the key problems with the original funding model and the proposed solution, which was based on:

“Moving to a true “per-student” funding model rather than a “per school” model;

Ensuring that the property funding flow is aligned with the current enrolment”.

The impact of the change in funding model is clear when we look at the funding for the closed First Round school, Whangaruru, in 2015 (its second year of operation) compared to that for the new Third Round school, Te Aratika, in 2017.

In 2015, Whangaruru received operational funding of $412,148 per quarter, or $41,215 per student p.a. based on 40 students.  In the 4th quarter of 2017, Te Aratika received quarterly operational funding of$126,580, or $15,343 per student p.a. based on 33 students.

So two “similar” schools – in this case small secondary schools – have received vastly different amounts of funding per student under the two funding models.

The initial policy mistake of fully funding the cost of creating and operating small schools has meant the charter school initiative has cost the government more.  This is why Bill English and Hekia Parata changed the funding model – over 3 years ago!

Whether this additional cost has paid off is arguable, as the formal evaluation failed to draw any meaningful conclusions as to the impact of the initiative.

But either way, one could just as easily assert that the Government should be prepared to invest more and help all students who need more support, not just those in an ideologically motivated experiment.

Bill Courtney

Save Our Schools NZ, August 2018

Current state of education in the primary sector in the UK, by Jennie Harper

Union Jack bagI sit here typing this at 6.20 in the morning because that is the only spare time I have to do this.  I hear all the time of teachers who leave their job at 3.30, that start at 9 and have loads of holidays to do as they will.

I just wish I was one of those.

I have been teaching now for 19 years and this should be easier.

I spend at least 2 hours every day marking just to keep up.  

We have fabulous new ideas called ‘responding to marking’ which means marking in depth, setting new activities or ‘gap tasks’ and ensuring the children complete those before the next lesson.   I have a large amount of stickers and stamps but have still used up the ink in 6 purple pens since September.

We have been told Ofsted do not require unnecessary levels of marking so we will see if things change but I won’t hold my breath.

Our education system is now based on finances and results.

My pay is now dependent on my children achieving the results that were set before I even started working at the school. I get observed 3 times a year and have to achieve 60% outstanding to be seen as value for money.

The observations will be carried out by those ultimately responsible for managing and setting the school budget. You can make your own observations about that!

Tests and more tests are the everyday life for children in our schools.

They start in year 1 with our now legendary phonics screening check that measures decoding skills and is passed off as a reading test. The children get a nice little tag with pass or fail on it at 6 years old. As a teacher this goes against everything I believe. I am forced to label my children as failures at only 6 years of age.

If the children in your school struggle with these tests and your results suffer then you are exposed to the OFSTED machine that descends upon schools and puts them into a state of fear and misery.

Then if they are judged as failing, the whole school can then be sold off to the highest academy bidder. Land is then sold off, new uniforms ordered, a bit of new building works to impress parents and off you go.

Teachers are forced into school at 7am, expected to work including after school clubs until 6pm.  There are even Saturday school sessions where staff are expected to attend.

We have a dedicated work force who have put up with a lot over the last years but there are signs this is changing.

We have teachers walking out of the profession even in difficult financial times.

I honestly feel if this does not change you will have a teacher shortage and a dominance of teachers who are so beaten down they cannot hope to perform to the best of their ability.

And who will suffer? The children who our government say are at the heart of what they do……

by Jennie Harper, UK Teacher

Hoping for some honest answers on charter schools


bagbreatheTeachers don’t often switch off.  A good friend refers to holidays as “non-contact” time. And given our government’s habit of pushing through major education legislation during the holidays, you start to feel like those kids in Jurassic Park, sheltering and hyper-aware of every movement as the velociraptors keep testing for gaps in the perimeter.

Saturday’s the one morning I do try to disengage the teacher brain and enjoy a meander round our local farmers’ market with my mum. But this weekend, the Act party were on the “community group” stall – including the Epsom candidate, David Seymour, who assisted John Banks with the drafting of Act’s charter schools policy.

I’ve read and archived more than 500 articles and op-eds on the decimation of American public schooling in favour of charter schools; that virtual pinboard records the same cynical treatment of state schools in the UK – and now here. It fills me with a cold anger that this is being done to students, teachers and schools. Community as a concept is avidly being unpicked. And schools are some of the nicest communities I’ve ever experienced, held together by a lot of personal sacrifice. Targeting them seems like the educational equivalent of harp-seal clubbing.

So this was a chance to talk to the people who are doing things to education – and fair play, Seymour was fronting up in public. Some other politicians who are neck-deep in this aren’t very good at that.

The charter schools pilot makes me want to grab a paper bag and breathe into it vigorously. Part of my job is to promote scientific thinking in children. It’s the simplest of bottom lines: you keep all variables but the one you’re examining the same for it to be a fair test. Charter school students were receiving more funding per head than public school students, and class sizes were 12-15 compared to 28+ in public schools. So that was one of the questions I put to Mr Seymour – how can this test be called “fair”?

The information on funding is “untrue”  and class sizes “will grow,” he said. But, I said, that’s not what some charter schools are advertising on radio.
I was then informed that it was a “natural experiment”, and results would be “corrected”, controlling for covariates after the trial.  I did a bit more reading later on – yes, they are an option when testing in science. The following gave me slight pause:
“Natural experiments are employed as study designs when controlled experimentation is extremely difficult to implement or unethical, such as in several research areas addressed by epidemiology (e.g., evaluating the health impact of varying degrees of exposure to ionizing radiation in people living near Hiroshima at the time of the atomic blast) and economics (e.g., estimating the economic return on amount of schooling in US adults.”

(Also see this paper  and this paper for a deeper discussion of this type of test.)

Apparently I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for believing that charter schools are the beginning of privatisation by stealth, no matter how much evidence there is for it in America and the United Kingdom. But you heard it here first, and I asked if I could quote him on it: schools will not be forcibly privatised against the wishes of their communities, as is happening in Britain. I look forward to following that up.

I asked him about the effect of competition on the thing that makes good education: sharing of knowledge and resources. He hadn’t heard of the charter school in New York visited by a New Zealand teacher, where all doors, windows and cupboards are locked – not because it’s a dangerous neighbourhood, but because teachers are worried about others “stealing” their ideas.

Seymour challenged me on what I would do with a middle school like the one he attended, where children were apparently allowed to run around and do whatever they liked. (Aren’t there mechanisms in place already? Commissioners?) He also asked if I had visited any of the charter schools myself – the people behind them were all good people, doing good things. I asked him if he’d visited any of the schools in the area where I work to see the good things they were doing, too.

Seymour was lukewarm on the idea of National Standards – shock! common ground? – but it’s because they run counter to Act’s ideas of “freedom” from government control. It was my first real-life encounter with someone who believes so fervently in decentralisation, and it was a strange feeling. Like standing on opposite sides of a Wile E Coyote canyon and trying to make ourselves understood.

It was also fairly heartbreaking to hear an older supporter on the stand, someone kind enough to volunteer to read with children at a school in an area of very high need, ask “Why can’t we just give it a go? Why can’t we have a choice?”

If it really was just about choice, and getting the best deal for our kids, and the public system wasn’t steadily being undermined at the same time, maybe I wouldn’t be so angry.
So I left, feeling like I’d engaged in some harp-seal clubbing of my own in directing that beam of fury at the two ACT supporter ladies. (And embarrassed that I’d lost track of time and stood Dianne up for breakfast.)

Funny how a day can pan out, however. Later at the Quality Public Education Coalition forum, chairman Bill Courtney caused heads to swivel when he greeted Alwyn Poole in the audience before giving an update on charter schools. Poole is the principal of Mt Hobson Middle School. He’s also a member of the Villa Education Trust, whose South Auckland Middle School is one of the first in the charter schools pilot.

What a magnificent thing it was to be able to ask questions openly of someone involved in this, and to receive frank answers. (At last!) And to know that this person has extensive experience in education (and multiple teaching qualifications).

Courtney’s talk used South Auckland Middle School’s figures to explain how funding has been allocated. He also made the point that the charter school model has been hijacked by the privatisation movement. One of the first proponents of the idea, Albert Shanker, saw it as a way to allow teachers greater autonomy, to engage the students who weren’t being served by normal schools.

This sounds like what Poole’s schools have been able to do: Poole said he works with children with needs like dyslexia or Asperger’s, or kids who need a “boost” at middle school level. He was asked why couldn’t he achieve it within the system as a special character school. In 2002, that option was “blocked”. They were looking for “ways of expanding what we do”, so applied for the partnership school option.

The school doesn’t carry the same infrastructure as state schools, principals do admin and teach, and they have “a nice lease agreement”. They also have qualified teachers and teach to the New Zealand Curriculum.

Poole was also asked if some of the biggest barriers to learning faced by many schools in Manukau, such as transience, were problems for his school. Transience, less so, but they have had a small degree of truancy (10 hours), and two students had a conflict and left during the school day.



Class size, and the basic mathematics of time for giving one-to-one support, seems to me to be the elephant in the educational tent. It’s splitting it at the seams as most politicians studiously try to avoid treading in its dung.

Unlike many politicians, Poole openly acknowledges that their 1:15 ratio is part of their success in helping students. Why not campaign for the same ratio for state schools? an audience member asked.
Poole:  “We love our 1:15 ratio and we would advocate for it very strongly.”

Poole said that they’ve also applied to the Ministry for funding to evaluate their model with the help of the University of Florida.

I went up to him afterwards to say thank you, and realised he must have seen some of my trail of articles on charters on the SOSNZ Facebook page (eek).

We touched on something that came up when he spoke to us: dyslexia. When I was a BT, I had a fantastic student who was also dyslexic.  I also had a fairly big class and very basic training in how best to support him, but fortunately, he had a proactive mum who could share her knowledge. I still collect resources now based on what I wish I could have done for him.
Poole started to talk about the things they do, and there was that moment, that neat spark you get when you meet another teacher who might have the solution for the child that you want to help, who will no doubt share it with you, because that’s what we’re both here for, after all.

And that’s what I find hardest to accept: we have educators being pitted against educators in this. Experience, training and knowledge is being dissed.

When stuff like this is happening, the problem is now having faith that the current Ministry of Education is “getting out of bed every morning”, as Courtney put it, with their main aim being to guarantee every child a quality education.
But as Courtney notes, there is no official, publicly available ‘Isaac Report’ to enlighten us on the findings of Catherine Isaac’s working party.  There is no attempt to be scientific and explain how the government intends to evaluate the pilot schools, and the concept. Instead there’s a second round of schools funded before any meaningful data has been generated by the first.

There’s not a recognition that public schools overseas are still managing to deliver results, even though they’re being treated like the Black Knight in Monty Python, battling on and squirting blood as another limb gets lopped off.

I got a lot of answers on Saturday. Now I have a new question. Will all educators – partnership school and state – be willing to dare to do what annoyed Tau Henare so much about the Problem Gambling Foundation: stand together to “bag the hand that feeds them” and oppose the secretive development of policy that serves ideology – not kids?


SOSNZ 2013 in review

Sydney Opera HouseThe concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 56,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Not bad.  Not bad at all!

Map of the worldReaders came from 143 different countries, with most of them coming from New Zealand, of course.  Quite a lot were from the USA, with the UK and Australia not far behind.  Which is no surprise since we are all facing similar education deforms.

The most popular posts were viewed by thousands of people and are still getting hits.  National Stigma – two teachers speak out really hit a nerve, speaking the words that so many of you wanted to say.  The next three most popular posts were:

Unpacking the sound bite “quality teaching eliminates socioeconomic disadvantage”

Teachers – thank you, thank you, thank you – John Kuhn’s speech

an ode to badass teachers

The most viewed image was this gem, as valid now as it was then, with the constant fandangoes orchestrated by Beehive press officers and danced to by the mainstream media:

John Key has a plan ... faint

The SOSNZ Facebook page leapt up to 1728 likers, and our Twitter warblings attracted a hearty 639 followers, and there were even a couple of times I was spotted out in the field, so to speak, Tweeting live at a union meeting and also in parliament at the oral submissions regarding charter (partnership) schools.

headdeskSpecial thanks to everyone who has sent in links, shared comments, allowed me to publish their own words, retweeted or otherwise spread the word about the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM).

In 2014, we can do more to push back against these reforms.  We can change this government for one that puts children at the forefront, one that works *with* educators rather than belittling them, that puts children before profits, and quality education before privatisation.

Please make sure you vote.  I don’t care who for, but be sure to look at which parties are truly looking after the interests of our tamariki, look at their past form, and vote for someone who will care about people over profits.

Happy New Year to you all, Kia Ora, and thank you.

~ Dianne

SOSNZ Celebrations and Milestones – 1 Year Old

onePut on your party hat and whip out the cupcakes, Save Our Schools NZ is a year old!

One year!  It’s a mere baby, but it’s managed to make its wee mark and rally parents and educators along the way.


In that year, the blog has managed 41,000 hits!  Most people come to the page from NZ (35,000+) but they come from Australia, the USA and UK in good numbers, too, and the odd few pop in from Vanuatu, the Cayman Islands and Papua New Guinea. Kia ora, all.

The busiest day ever brought 1983 people to the blog.  I am reluctant to thank Mr Slater for that dubious honour, but it pushed us up the Google rankings and lead to more people coming after the trolls had long since left, so in the end it was all good.

Aside from the homepage, the most popular page ever is a Key/Parata Tui advert meme.  That’s followed by the humour page, and then the I’ll scratch your back… post where the National/ACT education plans were outlined.


The Facebook page has attracted 1470+ concerned followers.

The most shared and seen post to date was this …

shock horror - Hekia Christchurch


Twitter has been rather busy, too, with 548 people deciding to follow SOSNZ. That includes world-wide journalists, MPs, teachers, parents, union leaders, and a lot of fellow activists trying to fight back the tide of deform.

Listening, Sharing, Learning

I have met up with the most inspiring people in Twitter conversations, in chat, on Skype, and – lordie – in real life.  Those people have added more than I could have imagined to my learning, my drive and my commitment to fighting for fair quality public education.

The best bit?  It’s a hard pick, since I’ve met such great people, but I think the best bit was meeting with and listening to Peter O’Connor.  He’s incredibly clever, very pragmatic, and incredibly amusing.  Oh and being picked up to write for The Daily Blog and @TheChalkface, both of which are great ways to spread the word and get more people to think about the issues.

No GERMThe worst bit?  Easily the worst bit has been reporting on the Christchurch schools mergers and closures, knowing that I am sharing information that will break people’s hearts.

Most frustrating?  Watching the Education Amendment Bill pass knowing that over two thousand submissions were completely and utterly ignored.

The most fun?  Protesting in front of Hekia’s office.  Primary school teachers sure know how to sing a good song and chant a good chant.

And what for the future?  

  • Well, we will continue trying to keep you informed regarding New Zealand education and beyond.
  • We will carry on supporting innovative and whole-child teaching.
  • We will keep pushing for more professional development and even better training for teachers.
  • We will carry on shouting loudly against the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and its obsession with standardised testing, performance pay, privatisation, and data collection that will not improve children’s education one bit.

In short, we’ll carry on doing what we have been doing.

Thanks for joining us on the journey.  Stay strong and keep fighting – our children are worth it.


Dear Dr Sharples, please help us raise the game for ALL kids

Dear Dr  Sharples,

Increasing achievement for Maori and Pasifika students is of great importance.  The issue is at the forefront of many educators’ and parents’ minds, thanks to the charter schools debate, and for that and that alone I am grateful charters were set before us as an option.
But they are not the answer.  Charters have been shown even in the best of countries, such as Sweden, to increase inequality.  It is telling that even normally right-leaning bodies such as the Maxim Institute and SNS have spoken out against charters being the answer.  SNS are a business think tank and said charters “had increased segregation and may not have improved educational standards at all” in Sweden.  In England it is even worse, and worse still in the USA.

It is far more important that we as a country look to improving schools for all children and that we focus very purposefully on Maori and Pasifika.  ALL schools need to be giving students the best they can.  An unproven experiment is not the answer.
Please say no to charter schools and instead join the fight to raise the whole game for everyone.
With respect,
Dianne Khan

Not in the mood for celebrating

cryWhen I started this blog and the accompanying facebook page, I thought I would be super giddy about all the wee milestones along the way, and up until recently I was.

The 20,000th page visit was a highlight for me – confirmation that people are reading what I write and share.

But this week when the facebook page was just under 1000 fans, I couldn’t even get excited, and when we passed the thousand mark, not even a woot was issued.

In fact, I cried.

I cried because the only reason the page is now so busy is because of what is going on in Christchurch, and the sudden influx of (to date) around 100 new fans was only due to them needing to search out information and try to make sense of the various verdicts given by Hekia Parata on Monday.

From being mainly teachers that joined the page and read the blog, it is now wider than that, with parents, grandparents, teacher aides, caretakers, students and the wider public joining pages like mine just to try to work out what the heck is actually going on – and why.

Some just want company in their dismay.

The numbers keep growing…

and my sadness gets deeper.

And if I am this sad, I can only wonder and imagine how the affected communities are feeling…

and then I get sadder still.

Kia kaha to everyone caught up in the mean and ugly mess.   You are in the thoughts of myself and so very many other people.


Matt Damon Teaches Reporters A Thing Or Two

This is one of those great moments where you are so glad someone with a high profile gets to smackdown idiot reporters…

Now all we need is someone high profile in New Zealand to start shouting for sane education policies here …




Multiple Choice


Is it reasonable to bail out private schools when local public schools have lots spaces?

(a) Yeah, we have heaps of money spare in the NZ coffers, what’s another $3 million between friends.

(b) Oh totally, poor Tarquin couldn’t possibly mingle with those children

(c) No


Is it reasonable to inflict undue stress on teachers, parents and students in Christchurch schools when there is still so much going on there already?

(a) Totally – what a few earthquakes amongst friends, it’s not like people lost their lives or homes, or livelihoods.

(b) Oh yes, we have to get on with it PDQ otherwise it’ll not be shot to buggery in time for the charter schools people to swoop in for a nice little take over.

(c) No


Is it reasonable for school staff to be out of pocket to the tune of $12 million because the Education Minister approved a system when it wasn’t ready?

(a)  Of course it is, those bloody teachers work two hours a day for six weeks a year and spend the rest of the time on the beach.

(b) Absolutely – they are paid heaps so they must have loads of savings to fall back on.

(c) No


Should Salisbury Special School continue to be undermined even after the courts declared the Minister had acted unlawfully in trying to close it down?

(a) Yes, it’s character building, all that stress, it’ll be good for them.

(b) Oh of course – it’s completely reasonable that all new student enrolment applications are dealt with by the ministry and not by the school.  That’s totally normal.

(c) No


Is it acceptable for the Education Amendment Bill submissions period to end smack bang in the holidays?

(a) Cripes, those teachers are always on holiday, it had to end some time!

(b) Oh for goodness sake, like anyone cares if they hand off our schools to all and sundry and pay them to run the schools, using our taxes, which they can cream off as profit.  Totally reasonable way to fund education.

(c) No


If you answered mainly (a) and (b) you need to do some more reading as you are showing signs of being slightly out of touch with reality.

If you answered ONLY (a) and (b) you are eligible to apply to join the ACT Party or its subsidiary entity, the National Party, and move to Planet Key where the golf courses are shiny and the toilets invisible.

If you answered ONLY (c) there is hope – you just have to make your voice heard.

No To Charter Schools in NZ

A message from NZEI:

Make a submission to Parliament to stop Charter Schools

Changes to education legislation to allow for the establishment of charter schools, is now before Parliament.

Public submissions are invited to the Education Select Committee on the Education Amendment Bill with a closing date of January 24, 2013.

Click here to complete a submission.

Make sure you take this opportunity to make a difference by doing a submission over the school break.

Charter schools are a symptom of the Government’s Global Education Reform Plan which would allow for unqualified people to teach, companies to make a profit from schools and for power  to be taken away from the local community in the running of its local school.

The Government has no mandate for charter schools – or “partnership schools/kura hourua” as ACT MP John Banks and Education Minister Hekia Parata call them.

  • They are a failed ideological experiment from overseas.
  • They will be exempt from the Official Information Act and able to cherry pick students or take over local schools.

They are part of an agenda of privatisation and competition that has no place in New Zealand’s high achieving system.

Find out more at our Facebook Group We Don’t Want Your Charter Schools.

That Was the Year That Was: SOSNZ – 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Super Fabulous Stuff About NZ Education – Get Informed

This is a wee collection of the best blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and web sites for those concerned about changes in NZ’s education system.
Stand Up For Kids
We Don’t Need Your Charter Schools
National Standards Must Go
Join Twitter here and then follow some of the people below:
Diane Ravitch ‏ @DianeRavitch
Allan Alach ‏ @allanalach
SaveOurSchoolsNZ ‏@ABiteOfTheApple
Teachers@ PPTA ‏ @PPTAWeb
Scoop NZ Parliament ‏ @ScoopParliament
NZEI Te Riu Roa Info ‏ @NZEInfo
Make a submission in response to the Education Amendment Bill
(which will legalise charter schools if passed).
Email your MP .
Email a Newspaper – their contact details are here.


You can write your own.

You can use this easy peasy template (takes 1-2 mins max)

You can use mine as a template (1st draft, needs tweaking).

You can use  the NZEI’s draft submission as a template.


Don’t bury your head in the sand.

If you believe any government proposal or policy is wrong, do something.

Speak out before it is too late.


Christchurch Fighting for its Educational Life

An Evasive Minister

The Minister of Education has spent much of her time, notably on Q+A and during Parliamentary Question Time on 16th October and 17th October, dancing around questions and offering responses that fail to address the actual questions.  Even the speaker of the house seemed exasperated on a number of occasions, trying to get a straight answer out of her.  In my experience, people who answer in the kind of way Ms Parata does have one of two problems – they are either not very bright and do not understand what is being asked, or they understand only too well and do not want to give the answer.

3/10 For Accuracy

Just about everyone is aware that there were errors in the original information upon which closure/merger/relocation decisions were based.  Now it transpires that even more errors have been unearthed.  “It is concerning that new information is only now coming to light. This is information that should have been given earlier if school principals and their boards and communities were to have any meaningful dialogue with the Government” said NZEI President, Ian Leckie today.

Not listening lalalalalala

Sorry, Did I Say Flexibility?

  • Geotechnical information has been passed on just this week, two weeks into the consultation process.
  • It is understood ministry representatives will meet schools individually next week, three weeks into the six-week process.
  • Schools are still waiting on replies to requests for information under the Official Information Act.  (One school, at least, has had its request denied).

Despite all this, and despite repeated assurances from the Minister, Hekia Parata, that she is listening and the consultation is genuine, no flexibility will be given to Christchurch schools fighting for their survival.  No opportunity for extra time, support or help in any shape, way or form in fact.  Yes, that sure sounds like they’re listening.  Sure sounds like they’re flexible.

A Shameful Roll-Call

Christchurch is suffering.  That’s the fact of the matter.

The quakes have left behind huge ongoing problems and a stressed and exhausted people.  Health and alcohol problems are on the rise as time moves on and issues are not resolved.  According to an article in Scoop today, “Chris Mene said proposed school mergers and closures affected families in the ”most deprived and vulnerable areas.” and “Andrew Dickerson said the ”appalling performance” of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Earthquake Commission and insurance companies would take its toll on people’s mental wellbeing.” Andrew might well have added The Ministry of Education to that roll-call.

What Can You Do?

Just being upset or angry is not going to help.  Action is needed.

The boards of schools in greater Christchurch proposed for merger or closure will have until 7 December to carry out consultation with their local communities and report back on the proposals.  Find out where community consultation evenings are taking place – go along – see what you can do to help.

At Chisnallwood Intermediate, a community consultation evening is to be held in the school gymnasium on Wednesday 31st of October at 7 pm.  They are asking for everyone to attend and support them. They have invited politicians, education ministry people, media, community boards, etc.  It would be astounding to have a high community turn-out to canvass opinions and show the government that this matter is of huge and high importance to the community.

And if you know of further events, feel free to add details or links in the comments below.

Kia Kaha, Christchurch.


Links & Further Reading

Proposals for state primary and intermediate schools can be found on the Shaping Education website –

Geotechnical information will inform future proposals for secondary provision in Christchurch. For more information, see Proposals for Future of Christchurch Schools [PDF; 90kb]

Principals denied more time to respond:

Schools Grieving – Longstone:

Schools all ears for Ministry talks:

Labour Party Press Release on Charter Schools in Christchurch

Don’t make Christchurch kids charter school guinea pigs

Wednesday, 10 October 2012, 12:11 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

10 October 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Don’t make Christchurch kids charter school guinea pigs

Parents and students in Christchurch have every right to be worried about the Government using the education recovery process to experiment with privitised education and charter schools on them, Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

This morning the Christchurch Press revealed that one of Hekia Parata’s relatives is moving ahead with plans to open a new ‘special character’ school offering Maori immersion education. At the same time, seven out of the ten existing state schools offering Maori immersion education are earmarked for closure or merger.

“People I speak to in Christchurch are rightly worried that the Government seems to be ‘clearing the decks’ for charter schools.

“Hekia Parata’s potential conflict of interest extends well beyond approving or declining her relative’s charter school application. So many of the other decisions she is making will have a direct impact on the number of kids it might be able to enrol.

 “Recovery from the earthquakes must not be used as an excuse to privatise Christchurch education. Charter schools are untested, won’t have to employ a full complement of qualified teachers, and won’t have to teach the same curriculum as public schools.

“Charter schools are an ideological experiment. The students of Christchurch have been through enough in the last two years. They don’t deserve to be made guinea pigs as well,” Chris Hipkins said.


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