Bad classrooms make kids feel unimportant - PPTA

Bad classrooms make kids feel unimportant - PPTA

Shoddy, unsatisfactory and rundown – a nationwide review has revealed the true extent of the shocking state of some of our schools.

Bill English and the Ministry of Education have admitted the situation is much worse than previously realised, and the number of schools in need of a complete redevelopment is actually double what they thought.

It'll take time and lots of money to repair, with the bill for leaky schools alone estimated at more than $1 billion.

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Angela Roberts says the problem is concentrated mainly in lower-decile schools.

"Poorer schools have struggled – we've had decades of abdication of responsibility by the Government for the network, and schools have been left to their own devices to maintain their buildings," she said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

The primary cause of the deterioration, says Ms Roberts, is the Tomorrow's Schools model, where schools make their own decisions largely independent of one another.

"We've got 2500 self-managing independent Crown entities, and there's never been any national responsibility for the network, it's all been given over to schools. We actually welcome having a look at the network as such, and we wish they would apply that same lens over a lot of the decisions they make over the resourcing of schools."

While parents have been given more choice as to where they send their kids, Ms Roberts says there is a "vicious cycle" that sees schools that can't afford to fix worn-down infrastructure lose students, and therefore funding.

"The mobility we've given to families doesn't apply to property. So when you have children leaving one school, the funding for that school goes down so you have fewer students, fewer dollars."

She says it incentivises poorer schools to hide their flaws, further delaying any chance at a fix.

"Teachers, we tend to try and make the most of it. So we try and say 'just mind the bucket', as I have done in classrooms I have taught in."

While schools better able to get money out of parents in the form of "donations" are able to upgrade their premises – and it works wonders for the kids.

"'It's like somebody has noticed out there I'm important, I'm a child who has a future in this country and people want to invest in me,'" says Ms Roberts.

"When you talk to those kids they're really excited – not just about their new space, but about the expectations on them."

Lower-decile schools have a greater proportion of students coming from deprived backgrounds, and Ms Roberts says when they show up to class and it's leaky and cold, it sends them a message they're not important.

One of the solutions, according to the PPTA, is to take away some of the freedom of choice parents have in the state education system of where to send their kids to school.

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