Moerewa takes on MOE over Govt edict

By Joseph Aldridge

Moerewa School and its senior students are planning to defy an order from the Minister of Education Hekia Parata telling the students to move to other schools by the beginning of the next term.

Mrs Parata instructed the school earlier this month to disband its senior secondary unit and send the students to other schools by April 23, the first day of Term Two.

Ordered to close down last year by then-Minister of Education Anne Tolley, the unit was given permission by Mrs Parata to continue classes during Term One while an audit of the school's NCEA results was carried out by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

The NZQA has so far audited 84 per cent of the school's NCEA results and has told the school it has concerns with almost 29 per cent of the results.

Moerewa School principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera said some details of the authority's concerns were released to the school during the Easter holidays, showing some students had missed achieving their Level One NCEA by only four or six credits.

"We think those concerns are minimal and a lot of them are easily rectified and we would like to have a chance to rectify them," she said.

At a meeting of the school community on Tuesday night, it was decided to ignore the Minister's instructions and keep running the senior secondary unit.

"I think the ball's really in our court as far as the ministry is concerned, we'll have to wait and see what happens," Ms Milne-Ihimaera said.

"As always, we've said we're open for scrutiny and we're open for discussion."

Maori students at the school have achieved at levels above the national average in previous years and nothing has changed, Ms Milne-Ihimaera said: "We're not asking for a brand new school or new facilities, we're simply asking to continue with what we're already doing."

Moerewa School's vocal opposition to the controversial National Standards is thought by many in the community to be behind the Ministry's determination to close the senior class.

In a letter instructing the school to close the unit last year, Mrs Tolley noted the school's refusal to include National Standards in the school charter.

In a bid to save the senior class, the school this year included National Standards in its charter, even though it doesn't believe the standards will benefit the school.

Moerewa's compromise has not resulted in any relaxation of the Ministry's stance, Ms Milne-Ihimaera said.

NZQA said Moerewa School hosts a satellite class of Kia Aroha College for the senior students. Kia Aroha College was visited by NZQA in November as part of its standard quality assurance process for NCEA assessment in a new school.

This visit raised concerns about Kia Aroha College's ability to manage assessment processes at Moerewa School 300km to the north.

It said after the completion of NZQA's check-marking process, the percentage of students who achieved NCEA at Moerewa School is: NCEA Level 1 - 11 per cent achievement rate; NCEA Level 2 - 33 per cent achievement rate and NCEA Level 3 - 33 per cent achievement rate.

- Northern Advocate

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