Well thank God commonsense prevailed.
The Government has rejected a council plea for a radical shake-up of Lower Hutt secondary schools.
The council, appalled by poor NCEA results, officially requested a review so sweeping changes could be considered, including the creation of single-sex and junior and senior schools.
But in a letter to mayor David Ogden, obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, Education Minister Anne Tolley said she would be reluctant to proceed without the schools’ support. “As you will appreciate, dialogue with schools is an essential part of any process,” she wrote
Credit to the Dominion for following up on this. My previous post about this issue last month roundly criticised the local council in how they have approached this issue. Equally how I felt that councillor Max Shierlaw was wrong in his summation of the issue and how little consideration was given to the colleges involved in presenting their case.
Mr Shierlaw took exception and responded to my post
Under the Local Government Act, Councils are charged with monitoring and evaluating the performance of Central Government in their communities. One of the community outcomes contained in our Annual Plan is the number of secondary students that leave school with a qualification.
State schools exist to serve the community and it is the community who should decide what structure is most suitable. This is where the Council has a role to play.
There is a level of dissatisfaction in the community about state secondary education options. The Council has very effective consultation systems and these could be utilised within a working group, under a Ministry of Education appointed facilitator, to gauge what alternative structures are favoured in the community.
Yes the Hutt Valley is segregated by social-economic boundaries, but we should never accept this as an excuse for poor academic results.
I didn’t respond at the time, no point in a flame war, but felt strongly that the community Mr Shierlaw talks about in his response equally involves those that teach our children. To go behind the backs of those involved in this process undervalues any review.
Colleges by their nature are large community groups and I would not hesitate to say that teachers and administration staff have probably a far greater connection to our communities than elected representatives. Whilst the issue of education standards does need addressing, to do so without consulting those in the trenches is the same as in any military blunder, generally resulting in consequences for those politicians involved that started the action.
No doubt in this case the council will be hoping the matter doesn’t irk to many of the populace and the way they handled it at their first approach . But no doubt the mayor sees it differently
Mr Ogden said he was not giving up and hoped he would be able to get the schools to change their mind and agree to a review. “I was surprised with the minister’s response, but I don’t think this issue will simmer down and just go away.
“I hope the schools will want to talk to us and listen to what we have to say.”
From my stand point I will be remembering and reminding many of the approach adopted by our council over this matter, involving No, high and might Yes.
Trust is an important attribute in any relationship, the Hutt Council forgot that.