Porirua teachers breathed a huge sigh of relief last Thursday, when Education Minister Hekia Parata reversed a decision to increase student-teacher ratios, a move which would have cut staff, increased class sizes and sounded the death knell for intermediate technology centres.
"I'm rapt the Government's listened," said Titahi Bay North School principal Steven Caldwell. "At the end of the day the children would have suffered and my teachers too, because they would have had increased numbers and it just makes the job that much harder."
Mr Caldwell had spent days worrying about losing staff since the ratio cuts were announced in the Budget.
"I was spending a long time thinking of how I was going to make it work," he said.
Titahi Bay North School's Year 7 and 8 pupils have had their technology education saved by the U-turn, Mr Caldwell said. The school uses Titahi Bay Intermediate's technology centre, which looked likely to close if the ratio increase had gone ahead.
"It was pretty awful. It's an institution in New Zealand," Mr Caldwell said. "We certainly couldn't afford, on our staffing and money, to continue."
Technology education is essential to direct kids into the very careers the Government most wants to boost, Mr Caldwell said.
"It wasn't just a 'nice to have' that the kids like doing. It was the first step to a career."
Brandon Intermediate principal Nicki Sturgeon says there was huge relief among her staff, especially those who contribute to technology classes.
"The mood of staff when they were told - it was palpable, it was intense," she says. "It's brilliant."
Parents and teacher unions were the driving force that reversed Ms Parata's decision, Ms Sturgeon said.
"There was a huge amount of pressure on the ministry, and they've listened. They've had to. There needs to be great heartfelt congratulations and thanks to those sector groups who fronted for us."
She still has concerns about Ms Parata's definition of success when the minister says five out of five children should succeed at school. There needs to be more dialogue about the ministry's definition of success, she said.
She is also worried about where the Government will find $114 million they had intended to save by reducing teacher numbers.
LOCAL TECH HUBS
* Brandon Intermediate Subjects offered: Food Technology, Soft Materials (sewing), Hard Materials (wood), Visual Art, Music, Carving, ICT Participating schools: Adventure, Brandon, Discovery, Rangikura, Windley, Wellington Seventh Day Adventist, Samuel Marsden (600 pupils). Seven contributing staff.
* Titahi Bay Intermediate Subjects offered: Soft Materials, Hard Materials, Food Technology Participating schools: Titahi Bay Intermediate, Titahi Bay North, Tairangi (226 pupils). One fulltime, two part-time staff.
* Tawa Intermediate Subjects offered: Food Technology, Workshop (wood, electronics), Music, Food Technology Participating schools: Tawa Intermediate (520 pupils) Four fulltime staff.
* Plimmerton School Subjects offered: Food Technology, Hard Materials (wood, metal, plastic), Electronics and Soft Materials, ICT, Structures and Mechanisms Participating schools: Plimmerton, Pauatahanui, Papakowhai, Paremata, Postgate, Pukerua Bay, Paekakariki (463 pupils). Three fulltime, two part-time staff.
- Kapi-Mana News