Shakeup of schools a fail

Ma­jor­ity of ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is func­tion­ing well un­der Tomorrow’s Schools

Hawke's Bay Today - - Opinion - Clive Bibby Clive Bibby is a fourth gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of a CHB farm­ing fam­ily that has been farm­ing at To­laga Bay on the East Coast since 1980.

AThe best part of the decile sys­tem is that its main pur­pose is to en­sure that low decile schools don’t suf­fer as a re­sult of their rel­a­tively hum­ble sta­tus.

s you might have ex­pected, the Gov­ern­ment has di­alled up a storm when try­ing to fix some of the prob­lems with the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that David Lange’s gov­ern­ment put in place so many years ago. It was named “Tomorrow’s Schools” which, on re­flec­tion, was a rea­son­ably apt de­scrip­tion for a new ap­proach that in­cluded a fair amount of vi­sion plus a huge dol­lop of com­mon sense. Sadly, it is or will be­come ob­vi­ous that the lat­est shakeup has lit­tle of that much needed in­gre­di­ent. In­stead, it ap­pears to be based solely on sat­is­fy­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal per­sua­sion of this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ex­treme left wing sec­tor. Where have we seen that be­fore! As per nor­mal, th­ese rad­i­cals di­rect change with about as much sub­tlety as a bull in a china shop. What’s more, they de­lib­er­ately mis­char­ac­terise the true plight of those com­mu­ni­ties sup­pos­edly in dire need of help. I am pleased there has al­ready been ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion in the me­dia from oth­ers far more qual­i­fied than me to com­ment about the po­ten­tial ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this sin­is­ter de­vel­op­ment. It will sim­ply ac­cen­tu­ate the prob­lems it is try­ing to solve, if in fact they should have been re­garded as prob­lems in the first place. My un­der­stand­ing is that the per­ceived mal­func­tion­ing parts of the sys­tem are work­ing quite well in the ma­jor­ity of schools — ac­tu­ally too well — even in the low decile schools and this is re­ally what gets up the com­mis­sars’ noses. They can’t abide the pos­si­bil­ity that one of the suc­cesses of Tomorrow’s Schools is that it had re­stored the abil­ity for self de­ter­mi­na­tion to the school boards who have in the most part used that au­thor­ity wisely, es­pe­cially in the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren from the com­mu­nity they un­der­stand bet­ter than oth­ers. This cur­rent ide­o­log­i­cal blitzkrieg ap­pears to have mis­read the way in­di­vid­ual schools have man­aged their re­spon­si­bil­ity in the ar­eas iden­ti­fied for change. While it may be true that some school boards have strug­gled to deal with prob­lems that ap­pear be­yond their col­lec­tive level of com­pe­tence, most of those is­sues are iso­lated and con­tain a de­gree of in­di­vid­ual hu­man fail­ings that would be dif­fi­cult to han­dle un­der any sys­tem. Any­way, an­other rea­son why the cur­rent sys­tem should be re­tained is be­cause it al­ready in­cludes the op­por­tu­nity for as­sis­tance from ex­perts who deal with th­ese break­downs all the time. For ex­am­ple it is not un­usual for boards from some of the coun­try’s high­est decile schools to call in a tem­po­rary ad­min­is­tra­tor un­til it is all sorted. The hu­man char­ac­ter has no re­la­tion­ship with and is not a re­specter of the decile sys­tem. Okay, so what ev­i­dence do l have that qual­i­fies me to com­ment on this is­sue? With­out want­ing to sound pompous, l reckon my ex­pe­ri­ence of 40 years’ liv­ing, work­ing and shar­ing (not to men­tion ed­u­cat­ing our kids who have all ben­e­fited from the ex­pe­ri­ence) in my own low decile com­mu­nity should be enough. You see the best part of the decile sys­tem is that its main pur­pose is to en­sure that low decile schools don’t suf­fer as a re­sult of their rel­a­tively hum­ble sta­tus. Con­se­quently, the sys­tem is de­signed so that, at the very least, schools like ours aren’t pe­nalised sim­ply be­cause of an ac­ci­dent of birth. I un­der­stand our boards have ex­tra fund­ing al­lo­ca­tions that help over­come the non ex­is­tent pri­vate fund­ing source in our com­mu­nity that would be avail­able to higher decile schools. With that backup in place, our boards have the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the school’s spe­cial char­ac­ter that re­flects the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and her­itage. In our case, down here on the East Coast of the North Is­land, th­ese ex­tra sup­port sys­tems al­low our students to suc­cess­fully com­pete in ar­eas out­side our nor­mal catch­ment area. This means many of our best and bright­est go on to en­joy the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to other kids in the large metropoli­tan ar­eas and by so do­ing, achieve their po­ten­tial at the high­est level of hu­man en­deav­our. When you add the en­joy­ment gained from liv­ing in this nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful part of the world, the feel­ing of be­long­ing and be­ing able to ab­sorb the cul­tur­ally rich part of our na­tion’s her­itage which is in your face 24/7, what more do you want if you’re look­ing for the ul­ti­mate en­vi­ron­ment in which to bring up and ed­u­cate a fam­ily. Take a bow Uawa / To­laga Bay Area School. We will al­ways be in your debt for help­ing to shape our young­sters into the de­cent cit­i­zens they have be­come and it is ob­vi­ous that the decile sys­tem played its part in en­sur­ing that re­sult.

David Lange’s Labour gov­ern­ment was re­spon­si­ble for Tomorrow’s Schools.

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