All we want for Christmas is good education leaders

The appointment of the very competent Peter Hughes as acting head of the Education Ministry is a welcome present for families this Christmas.

But only if it heralds wider change in the Ministry and a new Minister as well.

My heart bleeds for the families of Christchurch who are ending another year in uncertainty and moving in to a new one that looks even more shaky than 2012.

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

The National Government’s handling of education has been a disaster this year, from the class sizes debacle, to the shambles in Christchurch.

To an opposition education spokesperson the relentless stuff ups from the Ministry and Minister could be seen as a monumentally generous Christmas present from the Government.

But its not one I want under my tree.

Yesterday the Green Party called for the consultation process over the so called Christchurch school renewal to be restarted in the spirit of real engagement, and coordinated by a Ministry and a new Minister prepared to listen.

A report by ombudsman David McGee had found the Ministry had forced parents and schools to “ferret out information (about the closures) by making official information requests” and that information should be presented in a “comprehensive and comprehensible form”.

And in the wake of that report, Education Secretary Lesley Longstone has agreed to stand aside.

But the report was not just a black mark on Ms Longstone, it is an outrageous indictment on the Minister, and rubbishes her claim that she is consulting, rather than barking orders, at the people of  Christchurch.

Surely its time for Hekia Parata to go too?

Like commenters have mentioned. It’s just not usual for the Ombudsman to report to Parliament with such criticisms in this way. This is a big deal.

The massive closure plans for Christchurch schools must be stopped and the consultation process re started centred on a meaningful dialogue which involves the free flow of information and a genuine willingness to listen.

I don’t believe this is possible under the current Minister who has characterised herself as a person with her fingers firmly plugged into her ears.

Christchurch kids need a new Minister and a promise that their interests will be at the heart of any new process for restructuring the schools in their city.

That would be the best Christmas present this Government could give them this year. And I’d be happy with that under my tree as well.

14 thoughts on “All we want for Christmas is good education leaders

  1. I think I’d like an assessment by an independent party on the number and nature of schools required in Christchurch for the next 5 years.
    Perhaps something that starts there will come up with recommendations that will be appraised as factual rather than politic. Eh Greenfly?

  2. Education is only as good as the people that lead it. We need to return to the basics and begin to educate our children about the fundamentals and leave the extraneous information out. Asian countries continue to outperform the world in math and science and this is because they have focused teaching on the fundamental concepts.

  3. Is it just me that thinks National deliberately use, not very bright, compliant women, (authoritarian followers) to front their most evil policies. Which they can then throw to the wolves as scapegoats if the public finds out.

    Especially apparent when you contrast the incompetence of National’s women MP’s with the quite competence exhibited by Metiria and the effectiveness of the Green women MP’s.

  4. @Rob. Yet another unthinking request for our education to go back to the 50’s.

    We were third in the world for core subjects until National came along.
    Hardly a problem.

  5. @Dave Stranger.

    I would like to see genuine consultation and planning with the students, teachers and parents of Christchurch.

    And. I do not think that schools and students should be hit with any more changes than necessary short term.
    When people are more settled is the time to make lasting long term changes.

  6. After a huge disaster which no one could control people need more control over their community decision making not less! Education planning in Chch should be an opportunity for a genuine dialogue, but like so much else it has become a battlefield. I would love to be debating the purposes of education and how to support all our children to transform the world in positive ways, but no its now a war against peivatisation. We can do better as a nation but not under the current leadership.

  7. At the risk of being accused of promoting free market ideology, I think I’d like an assessment by residents and education consumers in Christchurch (AKA ‘customers’) on the number and nature of schools required in Christchurch for the next 5 years.

    An independent assessment might be theoretically a good idea, but I’m not sure what makes people ‘independent’ when it comes to education – disinterest? A lack of concern with educational outcomes? No predetermined views – which in practice seems to require a complete lack of knowledge of, or interest in, the education sector? State-appointed experts? Martians?

  8. Sam

    A lack of concern with educational outcomes? No predetermined views – which in practice seems to require a complete lack of knowledge of, or interest in, the education sector?

    A bit of yes and no might work here.

    If we look at a country whose educational outcomes we admire (e.g. Singapore seems to lead the international tables on TIMSS & PIRLS,) and pay their best brains on education to undertake such a study, we would see no concern about NZ’s educational outcomes, but demonstrated competence in maximising those outcomes, they would similarly have lack of knowledge of, or interest in, the New Zealand education sector, but great expertise in education in a successful environment.

    I think we do ourselves an injustice when we suggest that the only people who can recommend immprovements to our systems are the people who serve them. Getting knowledgable foreigners to give us input (as we have regarding double entry book-keepinng in government for many countries) is, I suggest, a better way to achieve improvements.

  9. As I suggested, bringing in Martians might work too. I’d be happy to have Singaporean, or any other educational experts make suggestions, though they might find the cultural context somewhat different, and probably hard to get their heads around. I’m usually unimpressed by foreign ‘experts’ who come along and tell locals what do do when they lack a real depth of understanding of the issues, but every now and then they provide some insight.

  10. We had a new NZ curriculum which bought in ideas from research into best practice all around the world and input from New Zealand parents, teachers and students.
    Now rubbished by Nationals/ACT’s return to the narrow education or the 1890’s. Except for their children at private schools of course. They still get music, art, history etc.

    One of the worst things about NACT standards and their other cuts to a diverse education, is they are being introduced at the same time as the new curriculum, so we cannot objectively measure the effectiveness of either.

    The motive is the same as the States. Destroy public education to justify privatisation. And have a two tier system so that the “ordinary kids” are prepared for a life in the “precuriat”, waiting by the phone for a few hours at a minimum wage, and cannot compete for the good jobs and university places, with the riches pampered darlings.

    http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/why-do-they-want-our-schools.html
    “The attacks on State schools and their Teachers is entirely so that corporates can make money from the taxes we pay for education.

    As usual the private sector are so poor at doing the thing they claim is their strength, starting viable businesses, that they want to steal “the socialists” successes. Ours!”

  11. “At the risk of being accused of promoting free market ideology, I think I’d like an assessment by residents and education consumers in Christchurch (AKA ‘customers’) on the number and nature of schools required in Christchurch for the next 5 years.” – Sure Sam. I am quite happy with that as well. As long as the residents and education consumers are also prepared to pay the full costs of their choice.

    Otherwise it is time they harden up and rejoined the real world The earthquake was a long time ago now. What is it, 3000 students have disappeared, so those schools must be pretty quiet places now. It is necessary for the country to rationalise its resources and make the best use of them. Keeping two large schools open when only one is required is a waste. Think of the environment.

  12. Sam says “At the risk of being accused of promoting free market ideology, I think I’d like an assessment by residents and education consumers in Christchurch (AKA ‘customers’) on the number and nature of schools required in Christchurch for the next 5 years.”

    The problem is that if you offer 3 options that are better, three that are worse, and the status quo, the vast majority would vote for the staus quo.

    Our local parents protested change, but a year on, realise their children now have far greater oportunities and educational experiences than the ones they protested losing.

  13. Kerry makes up complete nonsense “Nationals/ACT’s return to the narrow education or the 1890′s. Except for their children at private schools of course. They still get music, art, history etc.”

    Your world sounds horrible Kerry.

    I suggest you return to the real one

    The one where my kids continue to get all the subjects you say are only available at private schools.

    Just one more example of you coming up with any old nonsense, no matter how rediculously false, as long as it conforms with your preconceived ideas.

    More recent news in the papers that food prices have gone down, despite them skyrocketing by 20% in your parallel universe.

    Funny that you could never prove that. I wonder why.

  14. For profit schools with unqualified teachers being given tax payers money ……. thats Nationals education policy for you.

    National have been a disaster with education and Parata has been their go to boot camp girl.

    Gutting the education system and allowing janitors to be teachers is Nationals defining master-stroke.

    It was also nice of National to give more money to private schools where greedy National party voters send THEIR children.

    Natianal are always taking more from the poor to give to the rich …..

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