• Nick Smith
Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Education Minister Nick Smith today announced a new education initiative in North Otara to strengthen education for urban Maori and Pacific students.

"The Government is serious about helping schools that are in difficulty and ensuring the standards of education are improved. We are also keen to back initiatives that take an innovative approach to school governance. The concept of having a combined board of trustees for Hillary College, Bairds Intermediate School and Clydemore Primary School is in line the Government's vision of the next chapter for Tomorrow's Schools in which there is more flexibility around the structure of boards of trustees," Mrs Shipley said.

Government has approved expenditure of $759,000 over the next two financial years to scope and establish the initiative. This initiative is based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the boards of Hillary College, Bairds Intermediate School and Clydemore Primary School which is supported by the Chief Executive of the Manukau Institute of Technology, and the Ministry of Education. A project management team will be appointed to work with the schools to scope the initiative, provide information to the North Otara community, and oversee the development and implementation of a business plan.

"This is all about delivering a better education to the students of North Otara. The strength of this initiative is that it is a community designed solution backed up by resources from Government. The Otara Boards' forum is to be commended for its far sightedness in looking at innovative, community driven solutions to deliver the best possible education for their students," said Dr Smith.

"The development of this initiative will be closely monitored over the next few years to assess its effectiveness. We also will be working with other schools in Otara to look at opportunities for combination initiatives that focus on getting better results for their students," said Dr Smith.

"This is an integral part of the Government's commitment to schools that are struggling. It builds on similar initiatives in the East Coast, Northland and Mangere that involve getting alongside communities to develop local solutions to local problems. While we believe in an independent and strong Education Review Office, there is a real job to be done in supporting schools that are not achieving satisfactory results. The answer is not in confusing the role of the ERO, but in the Ministry taking a more pro-active approach in supporting schools at risk. That is what the schools support project is all about and why the Government has committed $56 million over four years to it. Initiatives like this one in North Otara will help us break the cycle and give these young people a real chance to succeed," Mrs Shipley said.