The role of the City Council

Eighteen months ago the Porirua City Council confirmed that Education is a strategic priority following its resolution to place children and young people at the centre of city decisions. This of course followed many years of discussion in the community and among educators.

There has been no visible movement on that priority since a stock take in November 2015 with either with the level of civic engagement or with public monitoring – the two longstanding functions of the City Council. Perhaps this can be attributed to reorganisation and political uncertainty but those phases are now past.

Civic engagement

For a number of years it has been clear that secondary education in Porirua was not well configured. Each of the colleges was relatively small, some were not able to cover the full national curriculum, and a large number of secondary students were attending schools beyond Porirua.

The Council participated briefly during inconclusive public discussions about the future of schooling in the western ward last year. At present arrangements for schooling in the northern ward are focussed on Aotea College with options that are – at least in principle – open until March 2017. The current options being considered include some interesting structural changes such as satellite schools and co-locating primary and secondary facilities. The outcome could have implications for the whole of the Porirua Basin.

In December 2015 the City Council resolved to support the introduction of ‘21stCentury Education’ in Porirua, although the resolution has not yet been reported on the relevant web site. The framework implied by the resolution should be published and used during the Northern Consultation.

Public monitoring

To what extent are children and young people at the centre of city decisions? At present there is no public monitoring that can provide informed answers to this question.

There are some good examples of local action, for example the School Bus [1]. However, some independent and considered commentary is required on the role of the Ministry of Education in Porirua. In particular the extent to which the Ministry is frustrating local initiatives, for example with co-locating early childhood and other facilities and new entrant literacy.

The commercial interests reducing access to and the use of the internet by some children – an essential aspect of 21st Century Education – also need to be examined in public. This issue has been left to small voluntary groups to pursue since the Gigatown promotion concluded. 

A status report is also required that assess progress on longstanding topics such as:

  • Developing schools as community hubs
  • Securing and extending the public library system
  • Clarifying the depth and breadth of vocational pathways available from Porirua
  • Reporting on the nature and use of Youth Transition options

  Kapi Mana October 18, 2016 p.7

Time to move on education

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