Saturday, 12 July 2014

Kids at the Heart of Education Nationwide Tour - Hamilton Public Library

I think that it is pretty much not a secret that I am in no way of fan of this National led government and the choices they have made and the policies they have followed.  Some of you may have detected a rather obvious leaning towards Labour.  However, they too do not have all of the answers. 

I've always liked the Greens in some areas because they have a real social conscious and a lot of what they talk about when it comes to the environment makes sense.  I've been disappointed that during Helen Clark's time as Prime Minister with Labour the Greens were not inside the tent, but I respect their reasons for why and why not.

But I think 2014 is the year that the Greens and Labour can work it out.  They have a lot they agree on.  I think they have lots of areas they can work together and compromise on either side on.  I think there will be some big areas where they may have to agree to disagree, but I think, on the whole, these two parties have the talent, expertise and determination to form a very effective government with a social conscious.

I've seen Catherine Delahunty speak previously at NZEI's Annual Meetings and I love her enthusiasm.  She and Metiria Turei have been vocal in their opposition to National Standards, Charter Schools and the GERM infestation of our education system, so I was excited to hear they were doing a tour of the country to discuss education and their policy of Schools as Community Hubs.  I was even more excited to know Professor Martin Thrupp, a leading academic on education from the University of Waikato, would also be speaking.

As a teacher I am stoked to know that the Green Party would not have performance pay for teachers, can National Standards and Charter Schools, and reinstate our quality public education system to be the best it can be.

Martin Thrupp was very clear that our quality public education system is on the precipice.  This election will either be the death of it under a third term National led government, or it will be saved by a government from the Left.

Below is the Storify of the tweets I tweeted and received that night (by the way, I apologise for my fingers and the smartphone keyboard not always agreeing on the letter I actually wanted to type):

Reflecting back on this evening, I remember thinking that Catherine and Metiria really understand how important the school is in every community, that it is not just about the relationships teachers have with the children, but with the families and extended families - and the actual school itself as a focal point for all.

I have mostly taught in rural schools, where the school really is the focal point.  It disseminates the news for all the community - when tennis is starting, when the Anzac service is, when the community church will have a service, when the local clay bird shoot competition is, when the rugby muster is, what's happening at the play centre and so on.  It means that not only the families with students at school are in the know, but the wider community also knows.

And that is the beauty of the Schools as Community Hubs - it draws the community together even more.  By bringing early childhood services, health and social services onto the school site, a tighter community unit can be established earlier on.  The idea of it takes a village to raise a child will be reinstated in the public consciousness.

Victory School in Nelson have been doing this concept for a decade already.  They are in a low socio economic area, but have seen community relationships build, family health improve and educational outcomes exceed schools with similar demographics.

Metiria said that each school community would have to mould what they wanted their Hub to look like, that you just can not take the Victory model and implant it as the solution for each and every community.  The Hubs are all about making local solutions for local challenges.

The election on the 20 of September is an important election.  It is a choice we all have to make as voters about whether or not we want to continue with National's no social consciousness or do we want to make New Zealand the fair and better society we aspire for our children of now and the future.

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