The Government is taking New Zealand’s education system back to the dark ages with the announcement that it is scrapping Communities of Online Learning (COOL) and increasing its control over the Education Council, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Digital technologies have rapidly evolved in the decade since Labour was last in Government and it’s important our education system reflects that.

“That’s why National established COOLs, with the intention of harnessing digital technology to provide more learning options for children and young people.

“For instance, parents who home-schooled their children could have enrolled them in a COOL which would have opened them up to subjects that the parent might not be able to teach. Or a rural school that doesn’t have the capacity to teach languages might have allowed its students to use a COOL to learn Mandarin or Te Reo Māori.

“Scrapping COOLs takes these possibilities away from children and young people, all because Labour is ideologically allergic to privately delivered services.

“At the same time as the Government is taking opportunities away from kids, Education Minister Chris Hipkins is giving himself more control over the Education Council.

“Despite the spin from Mr Hipkins that allowing teachers to elect most members to the Education Council gives the sector more control, the changes proposed in the Education Amendment Bill actually hand the power of decision-making over to the Minister.

“The Council will be required to consult with the Minister on decisions relating to teacher training and registration. Changes will also enable the Minister to issue a policy statement which will essentially tell the Council what to do and how to do it.

“What’s the point of telling teachers they can elect members to the Council when the Minister is just going to tell them what to do anyway?

“The sooner Mr Hipkins realises that the Government doesn’t have all the answers, the better.”

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