What’s in the children’s interests?

Watching and listening to reports on the announcements of school closures and mergers in Christchurch I have been concerned about the way teachers and parents have reacted.

The news a school is to close would be difficult to take but the adults appear to be putting their own emotions ahead of the best interests of the children.

The prospect of job losses would be devastating for the staff but major changes whether it is a school closure or merger, doesn’t have to be a tragedy for the pupils.

Children take their lead from adults.

Teachers and parents could make the process much less upsetting for the pupils by putting their interests first.

A couple of schools in Oamaru were told they had to merge by the then-Labour government. Neither was particularly happy about it but they accepted that falling rolls couldn’t justify two schools, got on with the necessary work and took the children with them.

They included pupils in the plans and treated the changes an adventure rather than a disaster.

Education Minister Hekia Parata made it clear why change is necessary:

“The face and make-up of greater Christchurch has, and will continue to change dramatically due to the earthquakes, and the education sector must respond to those changes.

“There were already around 5,000 places available in schools in greater Christchurch before the earthquakes, and 4,300 students have not re-enrolled, meaning there are now 9,300 places available – that’s roughly equivalent to the entire student population of Gisborne.

“The aftermath of the earthquakes has required us to have a look at all the schools across greater Christchurch and see what we could do better.

“We have looked at not only earthquake damage, but also roll size, population movement and projected growth, building issues, and what opportunities existed to create better, more modern schools,” Ms Parata says.

These modern schools are designed to reflect the latest education research and the advice of education experts, to ensure children are being taught using the latest techniques and technology.

“We have a chance to build brighter, more modern schools in better locations, with great new facilities, and to ensure all children are getting access to good, quality education within a close distance of where they live.”

The new schools will be better than the old ones.

The government is making a $1 billion investment building or rebuilding 15 schools over the next 10 years.

The initial announcement of possible closures and mergers wasn’t done well but yesterday’s was handled much better.

It also had far fewer changes than originally mooted but more than 9000 extra places in schools means there does have to be change.

Given that, it is better to accept the proposals and look to the future, for the children’s sake if not their own.


14 Responses to What’s in the children’s interests?

  1. Good post Ele. I’m actually growing respect for Parata, despite I don’t agree with state education. And as for the newscasters, John Campbell last night, and I see Rachel Smalley this morning, trying to brow-beat her to extract a ‘sorry’ from the minister, that’s infantile, and not the role of media. New’s broadcasting is not a confessional; by trying to get a sorry, they’re putting themselves iin the role of some sort of moral arbiter of morality proper: they can bugger off with that, or put it on their blogs, just keep it out of the news.

  2. Lindsay says:

    My response exactly. I hope those teachers aren’t crying in front of the children, I said to nobody in particular. They should have been reassuring children, not winding them up.

  3. robertguyton says:

    Parata reneged on her written claim that schools would have three years before closure. She dropped the one year time-frame on them. Little wonder there is anger and despair. Christchurch people are being screwed by the National Government that just wants the closures out of the way well before the election.

  4. Gravedodger says:

    The socialists and their Media allies see this necessary restructure as a golden opportunity to repaint my city red and using vulnerable children in a shameless manipulation does not faze them one little bit.

    Leaving the minescule Okains Bay school out was a shame for the future children of Thackerland by those deluded souls who have been brainwashed into maintaining an income stream for a principal and other drones and the MOE added it to the pile of “saved” because it wasn’t worth the battle.
    As is normal in scenarios such as this the views of the ignorant rabble make for better “News” or as I see it a propaganda opportunity, all the while allowing economic and social reality to be dashed on the rocks.

    The students, present and future, of our damaged heartland have moved in possibly the most significant migration since Maori went urban then toss in the capital costs it is a no brainer to restructure.
    Maybe they have discovered how to make an omelet without breaking eggs

    Infotainment “stars” such as those who occupy the prominent media options see only ratings and sales meanwhile more and more of our “bank balance” of sympathy and support is consumed in the eyes of the rest of the country.

  5. JC says:

    That is indeed an issue. Sitting outside the whole disaster means we don’t fully understand the stress and strain the Chch people are going through.. but it also means we can recognise political opportunism when we see it and the calculating way the kids are being used by the teachers.


  6. homepaddock says:

    Are you going to criticise her for not closing a lot more schools as was initially mooted too? Did she renege on closing a lot more schools?

    The original proposals were just that, proposals. The Minister consulted and listened as promised and made decisions based on what she learned including the desire for certainty.

    Delay will only prolong the inevitable. Parents would be unlikely to enrol children in schools that will close and others might move their children earlier.

    There are more than 9,000 fewer pupils in the city, some schools must close or merge.

    Christchurch people are getting $1 billion spent on building and rebuilding their schools.

  7. robertguyton says:

    Parata should never have proposed the closure of so many schools in the first place! That’s irresponsible, given the fractured state of the Christchurch community. The last thing they need is some gung-ho politician proposing to close 30 of their schools when judging by this most recent proposal, was way over the top! As for trying to justify the moving forward of the date from three years to one, that’s disgraceful. Parata put the original claim in writing. Now, she’s changed the deal, unilaterally. Shocking behaviour in an area that deserves careful management. Above all that is the idiotic move by National to make these decisions before the census is done. It’s all about numbers, they claim, and it should be too, but they don’t know the numbers! That’s what census are for! Shonky, unprofessional, dodgy as hell.

  8. robertguyton says:

    The Press reports:

    “The big reduction in the number of schools being forced to close or merge, announced by Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday, is more than welcome. It ends the anxiety of the many Christchurch people who faced their most cherished community asset being torn from them or drastically altered…” (My bold)


  9. robertguyton says:

    There’s more:
    “Now it emerges that much of that outpouring was avoidable had the Ministry of Education built its plans on sure facts and consulted more effectively before the wholesale announcement. Had it done so, the first plan would have been something like that now proposed and would not have hit the city like a load of lead.”

  10. Gravedodger says:

    oi bert with utmost respect, mind your own business.
    you are talking complete sh%t.
    Hp posted on involving kids in political activity.

    The disgusting action completely negates any claim of professional behavior among the teaching ranks.

    This is all about demographics and land issues, for teachers political pressure and job security with zero concern for vulnerable children.
    Be very grateful if they are not your’s

  11. TraceyS says:

    Making changes to schooling in Christchurch was never going to be simple or straightforward with emotions on high. With the benefit of hindsight, all things can be done better. Children are resilient. They will be alright. Parents and teachers must set a good example and not let bitterness become the source of their own motivation. There are lessons in this for all.

  12. JC says:

    How resilient are kids?


  13. TraceyS says:

    Nice pick JC. I just happen to be at camp tonight! Son has just informed me, tearfully, he wants to go home.

    It’s way more important that kids have a good home to go to rather than where they attend school. Home is where the heart is, not school.

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