Parents hear from Parata

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Twelve parents from the Gore district were given an insight into the education system when Education Minister Hekia Parata visited Gore earlier this month.

A public education forum was held at the James Cumming Wing, hosted by Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

The Government had put $11 billion into education as part of Budget 2016, Ms Parata said.

“In the funding review, we’re trying to find a greater flexibility in the amounts we fund and how we fund them and what choices that leaves open to services and schools.”

Early childhood education funding had more than doubled and special education spending was up 29% since 2009. The Budget for 2009-10 was $10.8 billion before going up to $11 billion, she said.

The Government had introduced the “Teacher-led Innovation Fund” and had replaced the Teachers Council with the Education Council in 2015, she said.

The Teacher-led Innovation Fund aimed to encourage collaboration between schools and improve teaching.

“We want to be able to build a system that tells parents, tells teachers and tells the children in real time how well that child is doing,” she said.

That meant parents would not have to wait until their child was 15 or 16 to find out they were not going to qualify, she said.

Ms Parata said small schools would not be closed.

There were 72 schools in Clutha-Southland, many of which were small schools, she said.

“I do not want to be closing schools because they become too small or it’s too hard, I don’t want to be that Minister of Education.”

Learning (CoL) would help smaller schools work together.

By the middle of next year, the Government would have spent $5 billion upgrading schools, creating modern learning environments and adding classrooms since 2008, she said.

The Government had invested in applied learning or vocational pathways – including primary and ICT pathways.

The pathways were created so children who did not think they were clever enough to go to university had another option.

Ms Parata said the pathways were a good start for trades such as dairying, forestry and tourism.

She had recently returned from conferences in the United States and Israel, which reinforced that New Zealand had a fabulous education system.