The Minister has taken a hands-off approach regarding tomorrow’s strikes. Despite having more than one month’s notice it is clear that neither the Ministry nor the Minister have got the full picture, on the eve of the strike, of exactly how many of the 1945 primary schools will be open or closed, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“The Minister said in Parliament today that there were 1264 primary schools which had notified the Ministry that they would close for tomorrow’s strike. He failed to answer the question regarding the status of the other 700 schools.

“The Government has failed to negotiate a settlement which has led to first primary teachers’ strike in almost 25 years, but now the Minister has also failed come up with a plan to support parents during the strike and has no clarity on how many schools are closing.

“With more than 500,000 children and their parents affected by the strike it seems a bit reckless to be leaving it to the last minute for hundreds of schools to confirm whether they are open for instruction or supervision, or closed.

“This begs the question of whether there could be some parents around the country who are either unaware if their child’s school is open or not or are being left in difficult situations at the last minute. These are the first primary teacher strikes in 24 years and it is important that parents have certainty around the arrangements for their children.

“I want to acknowledge that the vast majority of parents and schools will be rallying around to ensure the safety of children tomorrow. However, in my view, the Ministry and Minister do have a role to play to support those parents and schools that may be struggling.

“It does not appear that the Minister has offered any support to those families who are dealing with school closures and don’t have other options for childcare. It would have been a good precautionary step for the Government to provide some support in this area.

“The lack of support from the Government and late notice of some school closures makes planning very difficult for some families, particularly low-income families who cannot afford childcare and working parents who cannot get leave in order to look after their children.

“There are also reports of some schools discouraging after school providers to help parents. These reports need to be investigated. There also appears to have been issues around the adequacy of communication to boards about their responsibilities regarding strikes.

“Parents and students shouldn’t be disrupted because of the Government’s poor planning and management.”

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