Education overhaul: National to hold 40 meetings to address concerns

The National Party is set to hold 40 meetings across New Zealand to address concerns about the Government's plans to reorganise the education system.

National's education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said there has been huge demand for the meetings, and that dates, times and centres for all 40 of them set for April will be updated on the National Party website.

"I will be travelling the country to hold meetings in most of the major town centres from Kerikeri to Stewart Island," she said.

"The meetings will be jointly hosted by myself and the local National MPs, some members of National's Education Caucus will also be in attendance. I plan to attend all of the 40 meetings."

The Government said in a report in December that "performance is slipping" in New Zealand schools, and that the current system "does not work for too many groups" including Maori, Pacific and new migrants.

Bali Haque, Chair of the Independent Taskforce Tomorrow's Schools, called for a transformational change to the way New Zealand's education system is organised.

The introduction of Education Hubs was proposed, which would be Crown entities, with minister-appointed directors. The hubs would partner with around 125 schools, and would assume many of the current governance responsibilities of boards of trustees.

While National agreed with the need for structural change in the education system, as well as better governance and collaboration, the proposed changes would need to "be carefully considered," Ms Kaye said at the time.

She said the hubs would see a "major reduction in the power and duties of boards of trustees and parents in our education system, including taking responsibility for expulsions, final decision making rights on enrolments and zoning, and the employment of principals".

In a press release on Sunday, Ms Kaye said National want to ensure that the 19,000 trustees on school boards and hundreds of thousands of parents "have the opportunity to have a good understanding of the proposals".

"The Tomorrow's Schools proposals represent the largest education reforms in over thirty years, and we want to ensure more parents, educators and communities have the opportunity to be heard."