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Small Rural Schools in Danger

It is concerning that the Minister of Education is targeting rural schools for closure on the basis of their size, says Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Vice President and education spokesman Charlie Pedersen.

Mr Pedersen was commenting on Mr Mallard’s reference to school reorganisation in Taranaki.

“While school amalgamations can provide educational benefits, for many small rural schools closure or amalgamation is not an option, said Mr Pedersen.

“Educational outcomes should always be the primary focus, but other factors associated with geographical isolation can’t simply be ignored.

“Rural primary school children must not be placed in a situation where they are either forced to attend boarding school, undertake correspondence or travel long distances, often in areas where adverse weather conditions and poor roads make travel difficult.

“The Ministry needs to provide adequate resources to these schools and their communities to help overcome some of the extra costs associated with their isolation. They also need to ensure that catchment reviews will not compromise equitable access to education for rural children.

“Many of these smaller schools consistently achieve high standards and deliver excellent education outcomes and this is backed up by their Education Review Office reports.

“The Federation invested a significant amount of resource into and supported the development of Education Provisions for Young New Zealanders, which set out a helpful framework for undertaking school reviews. It is disappointing that this document was never finalised, perhaps it is time the Ministry did so.”

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