Choice beats compulsion


Labour’s school plus policy  will require everyone under 18 to be at school or in training.

National’s youth guarantee policy gives 16 and 17 year olds the choice of school, training or work. They can also choose to do nothing but won’t get a benefit while doing it.

Labour’s policy takes no account of the real world where there are some young people who don’t fit in the school system, can’t wait to leave, will buckle down and work but don’t want any more formal learning.

National’s policy recognises that one-size doesn’t fit all and that some people will learn better outside school and some are better in work than in a classroom.

We see quite a few of these on farms.

They’re sick of school, not interested in any other form of formal learning but they’re happy to work. Some of them will take up the opportunity to gain AgITO qualifications later and do well because they can see a point to what they’re learning but if they were forced into the classroom earlier they’d have dropped out.

Choice versus compulsion? No contest.

School boycott


Fifteen North Shore Schools are boycotting the Government’s  School Plus initiative until their dire funding situation is recognised.

In an open letter to Education Minister Chris Carter, the principals detailed Government innovations they claimed were not fully funded and had increased pressure on already-stretched finances.

The list of 21 included pandemic planning, maintaining electronic student management systems and running the healthy lifestyle programme Mission On.

We respectfully suggest you provide for the current demands before introducing new and more underfunded priorities,” the principals wrote. They said more and more schools nationally were operating budget deficits.

“We are deeply concerned about the future of New Zealand’s schools,” the principals’ letter read. “We do not concur with your statements that current funding is enough to provide a quality basic education.”

There are two issues here: the underfunding of schools and the School Plus policy.

Last week a former Balclutha principal  was charged last week with tampering with roll figures so her school received more funding. Her actions can’t be condoned but they do show the financial pressure schools are facing.

As for School Plus, it would be better to put more money into helping much earlier with the basics so that those who choose to leave school at 16 or 17 are equipped for work and life rather than keeping unwilling pupils in the classroom for an other year or two.

Some kids don’t fit in at school, are not ready for training but would be happy in work so National’s Youth Guarantee  with its carrot and stick approach  – to fund 16 & 17 year olds in approved institutuions but not allow them access to the dole – is better. It supports them in school or training or allows them to work but doesn’t pay them to do nothing.

On farms we sometimes have young people who hated school and don’t want any formal training do well when they start work. When they get over their anti-school feelings and realise there are benefits from training they’re happy to enrol in AG ITO courses, but forcing them to do that training straight from school wouldn’t work.

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