'Crisis' policies attacked

By Lin Ferguson


A Wanganui school principal has attacked government policies that are "creating crisis after crisis" within the sector.

Charles Oliver opened a Wanganui primary teachers union organised stop-work meeting at Wanganui Intermediate School yesterday saying that teachers were dealing with a clever government.

"A clever government who had their plans for education changes long before they became the Government," Mr Oliver told the meeting of about 160 teachers from schools through the region.

"They are very clever, [Prime Minister] John Key and [Education Minister] Hekia Parata, they work towards creating crisis after crisis," he said. "A crisis like the national standards and when that's done, they create a new one and another after that."

Mr Oliver said the National-led Government was in league with right-wing governments throughout the world with a plan to create a crisis in education and impose competitive business models in "our world class schools".

That meant national standards, league tables, proposals for charter schools and performance pay for teachers, he said.

The meeting was the first of two this week. The second will be held at Wanganui East School tomorrow at 1.30pm.

NZEI representative Graham Whitworth said the teachers' collective agreement was in jeopardy.

"And that's at the basis of these meetings. Teachers are unhappy. They're feeling threatened because they believe the new structure will slow progress up the career path and the salary scale and they can't do anything about it.

"So many teachers are upset, which is why we're having these meetings throughout the country."

National standards "threatens to narrow our broad curriculum and treat children as 'one size fits all'," he said.

League tables encourage competition and unfairly create "winner" and "loser" schools when top performing countries ensure schools work together, he said.

"But we believe that every school should be a great school. Teachers want to teach in a fair system which allows for creativity and all students to succeed ... it's really not too much to ask."

Mr Whitworth said the fight was not just about teachers and their pay and conditions.

"They want the best for the kids and this government will destroy it all."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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