Today’s passing of the Education Amendment Bill (No2) continues the ideological approach this Government is taking in education, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“National previously established Communities of Online Learning to provide more distance learning options in subject areas that may be hard to staff. While we accept the Government didn’t support this particular regime, there is a need to ensure the sustainability of existing virtual learning networks and to grow distance learning.

“The Government’s refusal through the legislative process to provide an alternative regulatory framework for sustainable, quality online learning and content is hugely disappointing. There are a number of rural areas and hard to staff areas where children could’ve benefited from more virtual or online learning opportunities.

“The new Bill changes cohort entry which will see a change to the school starting age for some parents. For decades, kids in New Zealand have been able to start school at the age of five.

“The previous cohort entry regime would have only allowed a small group of children to start school at a maximum of eight weeks before their 5th birthday if a parent chose to do this. National supports what would have likely been a small number of parents having that choice.

“The Bill also enables the Minister to issue Government policy directions relating to the Education Council’s functions. The Minister is reducing the independence of the profession with this change.

“It is deeply ironic and hypocritical for him to have argued so strongly in Opposition for independence and then pass a law change like this. A number of organisations including teacher unions voiced their concerns on this at Select Committee.

“While National opposed the Bill, we did support an SOP to require University name changes to be approved by a resolution in Parliament. Nicola Willis campaigned hard to stop the Victoria University name change and it’s great that the Minister listened to all of those that campaigned against it. It made sense to tidy up the law.

“But the Education Amendment Bill (No2) is an example of this Government on an ideological crusade to get rid of anything brought in by National, rather than putting up a positive agenda of change.”

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