Following my last guest post which received over 100 comments, here’s an update with proof that Hon Anne Tolley has made complaints about what amounts to child-abuse disappear to avoid obeying the Human Rights Act and legislating for children’s welfare in this sector.
With a whopping 91% of surveyed parents agreeing with the Law Commission that private schools should be required by law to provide “a safe and supportive environment“, (R14, page 4) the Government’s statement that “no evidence exists of any problems” (Parliamentary question for written answer 10761 (2010)) as their entire rationale for not correcting the situation needs some analysis at the very least; especially given all the ubiquitous rhetoric on choice and parent power.
So what happened when Parliamentary questions prompted her to have a look?
The Minister admitted first to two complaints (QWA 18143 (2010)) and then, when challenged about that number, came up with first one (QWA 26428), and then another two more, (26362 (2010)). Even though that makes five, she will now still only admit to four complaints in the last two years. Perhaps Anne Tolley should test herself against the National Standards! Clearly five (or four) complaints is not “no evidence” of any problems. Unfortunately, it is easy to prove that this number is again completely misleading.
One particular “problem”, the expulsion of three small children from a private school in West Auckland, has magically morphed into an issue about the school failing to look after one child sufficiently with no mention of the fact that the October 2009 complaint (QWA 26362 (2010)) was actually about three children being expelled.
Somewhere between the office of Mr Bruce Adin, manager of the Northern Branch of the Ministry, and Anne Tolley’s office, two of the children involved in this complaint have completely disappeared. When the situation surfaced through Parliamentary questions Anne Tolley said “The October 2009 complaint relates to a parent complaining about a private school failing to meet standards of care for their child.” (QWA 26362 (2010))Child, singular. No mention of expulsions, exclusions, or enrolments.
Yet Bruce Adin’s correspondence with the family clearly shows the true nature of the October complaint. Writing by email to the parents of the children on the 5th of February, 2010 at 11.33 am he said (see attached image):
“The Ministry is not empowered to undertake a judicial or review process and cannot review nor amend the decisions of The Rudolph Steiner School, Titirangi regarding the enrolments of your children…..The Education Act does not require private schools to follow any particular practices when ending an enrolment.”
This cynical “interpretation” of complaints demonstrates a complete lack of interest in the actual effect of private school’s damaging actions towards children. How many other complaints have been similarly obfuscated?
As Anne Tolley has admitted that two out of the four acknowledged complaints were about children being unfairly excluded from private schools (QWA 26362 (2010)), the real tally should be five complaints about expulsions alone. Surely 5 complaints is sufficient reason to require schools to inform parents about their policies and procedures at the very least, as recommended by the Law Commission and desired by 93% of surveyed parents. After all, even that legislation would only amount to a sort of disclaimer to alert and inform parents. What is choice without information?
When the Education Minister is faced with facts that don’t fit with the agenda, apparently the facts have to change and sadly, given the provable reality of this cover-up, the real tally of “problems” may be much higher.
What is cynical and really scary is the recognition that the Government would have done this with whatever information it encountered, to follow it’s own agenda. Presumably any misery inflicted on a child by a private school, even to the extent of that child losing the will to live, would be sanitised in the same way to present the desired picture.
So what is the Government’s agenda on private education? Given that when this Bill becomes law (and it is about to be rushed through), private schools will still be completely free of any obligation to even inform parents about the lack of legal protection, or indeed give them any proper contracts, even though the Minister has opined that contract law will suffice to sort out any problems (QWA 10775 (2010)), what will Education Amendment Bill 2 do to the law on private schools?
Instead of securing the welfare of children, the Bill makes provision for “conditional or unconditional grants” to be made to private schools from the public purse. The amounts of such grants will be “at the Minister’s discretion“. (Section 35 O)
What the redirection of public money into such an unregulated sector means is that when these schools continue to hurt children, they will be doing it with Government sanction, and using your money.
Anne Tolley is pretty confident that you’re ok with that.