The government and Ministry of Education lack integrity and compassion

Credit: SonovaMin

If you are wondering how things are progressing for partnership schools now that Chris Hipkins has notified them that he is terminating their model, this interview will interest you. I interviewed Alwyn Poole from Villa Education Trust that runs the partnership schools, South Auckland Middle School and Middle School West Auckland.

1. What communication about the future of your partnership schools have you received from the Ministry of Education or the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, since being told that your schools are being closed?

There have been a few meetings with ministry officials but they have either been fractious or we are told one thing by one official and then that is contradicted by another. The biggest concern is how the ministry officials have flagrantly gone against the public and parliamentary undertakings from the prime minister, deputy prime minister and the minister of education that this will be “an easy transition and all that the schools will have to do is teach the NZ curriculum, have registered teachers and have the same level of funding as other similar state schools”. The first ministry statement to us was “oh – there will be more conditions than that!” The person seemed delighted to say it – even though she was clearly contradicting her minister.

2. Do you feel that you have been treated fairly and professionally by the Ministry of Education?

No. Not at all.

3.  Have you been given any indication of how your application to transition is progressing or its likelihood of success?

No. Not at all.

3. Has the government or Ministry of Education provided you with a deadline where you can expect a decision from them on your two schools’ future?

Only the minister’s “end of July”. The ministry is trying to tell us the ‘termination’ arrangements will not be completed until November.

4. Has been left in limbo without a decision cost you any of your staff or any of your students?

Not yet. But at present, we cannot offer a single student place at South Auckland Middle School or Middle School West Auckland for 2019. We do not even know what the enrolment criteria are. Our staff and students have massive trust in our Trust but the integrity and processes of the new government and ministry are completely lacking in integrity and compassion. The minister won’t talk to us and says he follows advice from his officials. The officials say they follow directives from the minister. The comedy Yes Minister has never been more accurate.

5. If the government or Ministry of Education come back to you and tell you that you cannot transition do you have a plan B or will your schools be forced to close?

Today the minister showed what we knew all along. He has issued termination notices before we have our applications to become Designated Character schools processed and well before we have negotiated termination conditions (which is his stated preference).

Our results and the love our families have for our schools keep us in the “game” but the process is mind-numbingly disrespectful to our students/families and staff. We were incredibly surprised that the Select committee declined our offer to host them at South Auckland Middle School for hearings and then held them at salubrious hotels in the CBD and at the airport. It seems that “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.

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