Teachers march over education policies

FRANCESCA
Last updated 05:00 15/04/2013
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IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT: Protesters make themselves heard outside Gerry Brownlee's Ilam Electorate Office.

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Hundreds of Christchurch teachers took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the "GERM" of charter schools, Novopay, national standards and performance pay for teachers.

The group descended on Earthquake Recovery Minister and Ilam MP Gerry Brownlee's office on Saturday morning, railing against the policies, known by opponents as GERM - the Global Education Reform Movement.

The march was one of many nationwide rallies organised by the New Zealand Institute of Education protesting changes which could lead to the introduction of charter schools, performance-based pay for teachers, national league tables for primary schools and "super boards" which would govern several schools.

The marchers, mostly teachers, principals, and teacher aides, gathered at Wairakei Primary School in Bryndwr before marching to Brownlee's office about 200 metres away.

Passing motorists, including a fire engine, sounded their horns in support.

Green MP Eugenie Sage also attended the rally.

Mary Pearson, a teacher at Branston Intermediate, said she was against national standards.

"To put on a child's report ‘way below' - I'm sorry, I would never do that," she said.

"To have a child labelled at primary, middle, and even upper school as a failure is absolutely appalling.

"National standards have to go. It's [sic] not helping children."

Teacher aide Pene Jarvis said it was the first rally she had ever felt strongly enough about to attend.

"I'm protesting against the degradation of the education system by the experimenting from the National government. They are trying to put a business model onto schools. Schools are not businesses. We are there to educate the future generations to lead."

The rally attendees stuck posters to the windows of Brownlee's office and left their signs in the hedges after the march.

Members of the Secular Education Network also attended.

Mark Ottley said he was against charter schools because it would open doors for religious institutions to push their own agendas onto children.

Marches were held around New Zealand, including in Auckland, Dunedin and Invercargill.

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- The Press

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