Struggling Minister Can't Get Story Straight

Published: Sun 5 Nov 2017 01:08 PM
Struggling Minister Can't Get Story Straight
"The Education Minister needs to take a deep breath and consult with people affected by his decisions before making conflicting statements that affect children's learning," says ACT leader David Seymour.
After reports regarding fourPartnership Schools contracted to open in 16 months' time that 'he can say with some confidence they won't go ahead,' newly minted Education Minister is now reported as saying he 'had asked for urgent advice on the status of the four contracts.'
"Which one is it? Does he have the advice or doesn't he, and why won't he consult the people affected? Partnerhsip School sponosrs are heroic. The apply to run schools that they set up on tight timeframes to help kids who feel marginalised in the State system. They deserve better than ambigious announcements via the media."
"Mr Hipkins is now spinning that the schools are somehow not legitimate because their contracts were signed close to an election, but this comment gets him further in over his head."
In fact, the schools were funded as part of Budget 2016, half way through the parliamentary term. Round Four was announced in July 2016 and opened in August 2016. Round Five was announced with the addition of STEM-focussed schools in December 2016 and the Round opened in February of this year. Subsequently, both rounds required applications, feedback from the Authorisation Board, final applications, recommendations from the Board to the Minister, the Minister's acceptance, and final contract negotiations before a contract can be signed.
"Mr Hipkins can be forgiven for not having been in Government before, but I can tell him it takes time to make good policy, and the contracts were signed when they were because that's how long the process of contracting schools takes.
What Mr Hipkins Should Do Now:
"Mr Hipkins should now come clean. He should call a meeting of the contracted Sponsors of Partnership Schools and offer to visit them. He should seek to understand what they're offering to do for children marginalised by the state education system and stop issuing incautious comments by media.
"In the case of existing schools, he should offer to visit the schools and explain to the children what he plans to do to their schools. Ideally, he should start by listening to them.
"Having properly consulted those affected by his decision, he should then make an official statement on the Beehive Website, as most Ministers do. The Statement should say what Government policy on Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua actually is so that the school sponsors and the communities affected can have clarity.
"So far, ten days in, he's making a ral hash of things. Take a breath, Mr Hipkins."

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