The earthquake has forced some tough decisions for Christchurch schools. Clearly leadership was needed from Wellington and the decisions were never going to be popular. So where has this whole shambles gone wrong and how can it be fixed? It is obvious that the decisions had to be made by the Secretary of Education. She took about 3 months off from her job and presumably locked herself in a room with analysts and worked out how it all would happen. In this time we got mail from the MOE with the title signed "acting secretary of education" and when some colleagues visited the MOE in Welly they were told she was unavailable as she was working on "other projects". No gossip there I'm just adding two and two, plus if you were the boss and this sad scenario happened on your watch you'd want it sorted and you wouldn't be able to pass the buck.
So what happened?
After the scramble for instant safety and emergency repairs, chch sat and waited for action.
This was a time to breathe and work things out, any decision on the future would be one that may impact the next 50 years. A time for Cantabs to try to sort their own homes out, their insurance companies, their parents, grandparents, whanau.
Months passed and buildings were in a state of wait and see and kids had moved to other schools/cities.
The first sign of action was a "share an idea website". Some schools threw some comments that way, others did bigger submissions and proposals.
After the submissions there was one meeting attended by the Principals this was about, big ideas, meeting about an educational future, not replicating what was already there, building partnerships. Schools said "let's make this an opportunity". This meeting was positive, people like the highly respected Cheryl Doig gave input and leadership. CORE were there with their professional support and modern thinking.
There endeth the consultation.
After the only consultation meeting it all went quiet and the peeps in Wellington got to work, analysing buildings, crunching numbers, looking at a plan, and strategising. They haven't done a horrible job of it either. They have just handled it like people who have no cultural capital. People who don't and didn't realise the complexities of the earthquake stress, insurance nightmares, mental health issues - basically there was no apparent empathy and no reality to what seems like a totally logical solution on paper from a distance.
So then they delivered their news, and in terms of delivery they get a 1out of 10. They dropped that ball, we all saw it on the news, and adds to the assumption of there lack of empathy.
So now they have clustered schools, and backed down a little bit and said the mergers and closures aren't concrete and you now have 50 days to come back to the MOE with new plans and ideas, they then withheld information of the numbers and buildings and why they made their decisions! Since the Campbell live thrashing of the MOE they have released most stuff to schools, and so they now have 40 days to make decisions on schools in each others communities that will last for the next 50 years. Add in the fact that some people/schools arent in any position to think in the yellow quadrant this is still a monumental stuff up. BTW secondary schools opted out of the MOE chosen clusters.
So how do we fix it? Listen up Wellington.
Send Lesley Longstone to Christchurch she needs to spend time talking with Principals. She needs to be there, she should spend the next ten weeks there, this is bloody important. Her presence will help build a functional relationship, and take away the perception of distance.
Minister to be true to her word and renegotiate timelines so that these clusters can make informed decisions within a period of time that honours true consultation, and allows good decisions.
Make every piece of information available to schools and clusters, make it transparent, its wasting everyones time and everyone looks silly.
Money: provide realistic funding for consultation and facilitation, the amount offered is pittance.
Its fixable but as always its about people: He tangata He tangata He tangata
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