Principals threaten to march on Parliament over Tomorrow's Schools

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Sunday, 23 December 2018, 3:30p.m.
Some principals feel the proposals would ruin education as we know it. (Photo / File)

Some educators say they are willing to march on Parliament in opposition to the Government's proposed Tommorrow's Schools plan.

The board and headmaster of Auckland Grammar have written to parents, asking for help to fiercely oppose the notion, saying that the proposals are radical and would end the notion of the traditional secondary school in New Zealand.

Auckland Grammar's headmaster Tim O'Connor says the vast majority of school boards are just fine, and there's no rationale for direct state control.

"It is a proposed attack on state education as we know it, and the only winners out of this will be private schools, who will continue to be able to establish a culture and a values base and operate in a manner that is purposeful to their community."

O'Connor's main concern is idea of Education Hubs, taking over the likes of property, employment, and allocating government funding.

"That really would surpass the role of a board of trustees and boards of trustees would effectively become glorified PTA's or advisement groups to principals. So schools would lose their own personalities and their own cultures."

Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves told the Weekend Collective that if the recommendations were to be enacted, he believes there'd be people marching on Parliament.

"I know that sounds like a crazy thing to be doing, but we would, because there are some serious things here that I feel would interfere with the way successful schools are run."

Hargreaves says that having 125 schools reporting to one hub logistically doesn't make sense. 

However, Bali Haque, Chairman of the Tomorrow's School taskforce, says that much of what the critics believe is simply wrong.

He says the whole reform is based on developing an education system that meets the needs of all our students.

"Currently, the way we've got it set out, with 2,500 independent, autonomous boards, it really isn't working. That's indicated when you look at the stats of student achievement."

Haque says that thet went around the country and spoke to boards about the proposals.

"We've attended 200 meetings, we've listened to Boards of Trustees, and what Boards of Trustees say is they want to focus on important stuff of teaching and learning, and that's what our proposals allow them to do." 

Haque is urging those claiming it will destroy the school system to calm down, sit down and read the report.

Principals' Federation believes adopting Tomorrow's Schools would be the courageous option.

Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick says the consultation phase is really important, but then it's up to the Government.

"Will the Minister of Educations and his ministers have the courage to put in place some these courageous recommendations that are outlined in this document? So the proof will be in the pudding to see whether that really does land next year."

Submissions are open on the drastic and sweeping changes mooted in the Tomorrow's Schools report.

An online feedback survey will also be open next month and there will also be regional hui in February and March.

Cormick says feedback is important, even if it means cutting into holidays.

"Whilst it's going to mean more work for school leavers, we're up for the consultation period and we want to have a strong voice in determining what's happening in education for the next 30 years or so."


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