some thoughts on class size... updated

The following is a direct paste from the school newsletter published on 30th May.

Kia Ora

Our government has made some decisions in recent days that defy logic and belief.  A government that was elected with one of its tag lines that "frontline services would not be affected" this was in the contest of making the public services that you and I as New Zealanders use more efficient.  I have had and continue to have trouble reconciling this statement with the decision my the government to reduce teacher numbers and therefore increase class sizes.  There are so many illogical points to the governments argument I am not sure where to start.
The impression given by the Minister of Education is we need to spend what little money have on quality teachers and not class size as this is where the biggest improvement will be seen.  It is portrayed as a one or the other argument, quality teachers or reasonable class sizes.  It is not, it should be both reasonable class sizes and quality teachers.  Regardless of the quality of the teacher, if in 2013 they have 30 children in the class as opposed to the 25 they had in 2012 they have less time to work with the children as they have more children to spread their time around.  Brilliant teachers cannot manufacture more hours in the day and give more kids the attention they deserve.
A further line you will see, hear and read from the government is, "this is a funding decision, it is up to the school how the classes are made up".  While technically true, I can only work with the size of the pie I'm given.  It doesn't matter which way you slice and dice the pie it will be smaller from 2013 onwards.  It is very disingenuous of the Minister to push this line and convey the impression that any resulting increase in class sizes in 2013 is a decision of the school.
The technology teacher funding that has been in the headlines in recent days is a related matter, with which there has been a partial backdown from the government, promising that no more than 2 teaching positions will be lost from any one school.  This decision works on the assumption that losing 2 teaching positions is an acceptable outcome.
I am one that likes to take a balanced view of things, attempting to look at all sides of an argument.  With this I have, looked at both sides of the debate, there is nothing positive about the increase in class sizes, which will impact on the quality of education New Zealand children can expect to receive.  My suspicion from experience is you too will not be comfortable with the government plan.  Why do I say that?  Almost without fail every parent who sits in my office enrolling their child/ren asks me, "how big are the classes?"  So clearly you understand its about reasonable class sizes and quality teachers.
Therefore I am going to ask you to make your voice heard.  I'm meant to refrain from making political comment, or what could be construed as political comment.  However this issue is too real and will have an immediate and direct impact on your children and all Kiwi children.  How can you make your voice heard?  Email Bill English ( and copy it to John Key (john.key@parliament.govt.nzand Hekia Parata (  It does not need to be long and involved, simply a couple of sentences expressing your concern about the impending increase in class sizes.  The second thing you can do is sign the petition that has been started.  This can be found in the office and will also be available at the house meetings.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further please contact me.

Kia Kaha
Ben Witheford
Update: On Thursday 7th June the Minister of Education changed this decision and teacher funding ratios and therefore staffing levels will remain as they are.

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