Note re: Rangiora High School scandal also: Modern learning environment to school hall, disused Korean Church and now to prefabs – way to go (but no overcrowding)

  1. A brief update on Rangiora:

Over the weekend, the number of readers for this posting burst through 4000, then 5000, and is continuing at a steady rate to 6000 and, it seems, beyond – unprecedented for a site on education.

Many have confided to me that following the commissioner being appointed they were taken in by references to ‘financial mismanagement’, interpreting it as a euphemism for something worse; also the reference to an unauthorised overseas trip.

The gag on the principal and the then silence by the commissioner meant those smears gained a life of their own.

The financial books have now been (and always have been) adjudged accurate and in excellent shape; and the ‘real story’ about the trip was that the principal delivered a paper on the PhD research she had undertaken at Rangiora High School over the previous 4 years (four case studies of Māori student from Rangiora High School). The conference was paid for from the principal’s professional development budget and approved by the BOT in the 2014 budget round.

2. The situation at Te Waka Unua School came to farcical culmination.

The Christchurch Press picked up and ran with the story (link below).

Both the ministry and the principal denied there was overcrowding; this despite the Korean Church and the school hall being used, and extra classrooms being urgently sought. As one parent said, she took her child away because there were just too many children on a small site; some children having to be taken to another site for playtimes, and overcrowding in classrooms, including having to use the school hall.

No matter what the ministry says, there is overcrowding, made obvious in the details released for coping with it, while all the time still denying there was any

The ministry is lying.

Most teachers when they read such ministry behaviour won’t blink an eyelid because for the ministry that is par for the course.

But the principal isn’t the ministry, presumably the over-crowding isn’t her fault (I’m confident she would have been professional enough not to have lobbied for another school to be closed down), so why not be open with parents and the public?

The closing down of Phillipstown School was one of the cruellest and most wrong-headed decisions ever made in any reorganisation process. At every level of decision-making, Phillipstown should have received the most immediate of affirmations to continue its inspired work. It was good to read, though a sad reminder of what was lost, the comments of Tony Simpson, the school’s last and wonderful principal.

And those unfortunate children had to go to one of those cathedral-type schools without their parents having any choice as to an alternative.

One of the points I made to the reporter Jody Callaghan was that it was a pity there wasn’t in the Christchurch area more choice for all parents in the physical environments they could send their children to. Given a choice, most parents prefer the intimate environments of traditional classrooms rather than the cavernous ones of the Hekia variety. New schools in my view should have variable learning environments so as to be able to fit environments to the personalities and preferences of children, teachers, and parents.

So-called modern learning environments, in my view, do not, as I define it, encourage modern learning, indeed, some of the most out-of-date learning I see is in so-called modern learning environments – old-fashioned learning-toting-modern-tool – all quite incongruous, really. My goodness, it looks flash, inquiry this-and-that on the move here-and-there, but when I calculate the actual learning it is reminiscent of a distant past. Which makes it all the greater pity that Phillipstown was closed down.

Have a good break. Thank-you for your support over the year. It has been a lively one for us. (No doubt at some time I have infuriated you, but thanks for hanging in there nevertheless.) I say us because Allan Alach, the site’s editor, plays a key role. Allan has played a significant part in whatever the effectiveness networkonnet has achieved. This should be the last regular posting for the year (though who knows quite what is going to come up?) I will continue the Attack! series throughout the holidays (my hope is to keep building the series into a legacy one for the site).

All very best and thank-you.

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3 Responses to Note re: Rangiora High School scandal also: Modern learning environment to school hall, disused Korean Church and now to prefabs – way to go (but no overcrowding)

  1. Wayne Hawker says:

    Sadly Kelvin the truth is The Principal at Te Waka Unua is responsible for the over crowding as it was a proposal from The Woolston Board that included the principal and 2 MOE appointed board members that stated that the ministry should close both Phillipstown and Bamford and relocate them onto the Woolston site. This is despite the fact that both Phillipstown and Bamford have sites that are .5 of a hectare larger than the Woolston site, and on another note it was rather coincidental that following the final decision to merge Phillipstown onto the Woolston site one of the parent BOT representatives resigned from the board and took up employment at MOE. There is so much hidden truths behind this whole fiasco it really needs a full independent enquiry into The way MOE is operating. Have a great Xmas and New Year

    • Gray Cleveland says:

      Quite right Wayne. There is documentation of Te Waka’s Principal signing support for the proposals regarding the mergers of the three schools. Rae Reynolds referred to this as the “dog eat dog ” mentality that has become part of the Christchurch scene since late 2011. Winners and losers – the latter being the children. A fine Curriculum, holistic learning and community schools are being “raped and pillaged”. As a former pupil of Woolston School in the 50s and 60s we used the adjacent park. I don’t believe it would now be considered safe for children with Special Needs, or are these children excluded from its use? There are now some influential people who seem to rotate from Board to Board implementing MoE agendas. MoE officials who willingly, and perhaps knowingly, misinform communities and the general public as to the real intent of these so-called rationales and reforms. These are indeed dodgy times for State education in NZ.
      Have a good break Wayne and your family. You too Kelvin.
      My hopes are with you Redcliffs.

  2. Mac says:

    Modern learning environment, what a joke. These classrooms are made and no work at all goes into pedagogy to make it a viable option for the kids. Just ends up being a streamed nightmare with kids using Google Docs to cross off learning outcomes.
    Modern learning environment- archaic teaching.

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