Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

 Over the last week the top news story has been the National Lead Governments attempt to increase the number of pupils in school classrooms and to stop Year Seven and Eight pupils having access to specialist technology teachers.

Any logical person can see that increasing the size of a Year Two or Three class room from 18 to 28 will have a huge negative effect on the learning environment and the very important pupil teacher relationship—simply put there are ten more voices to be heard.

While I am sure that this makes great economic sense sometimes leadership is not about being reactionary but rather about thinking strategically.  Yes New Zealand schools have a tail of under-achievers.  Yes it is too large (any tail is too large) but most studies highlight the fact that New Zealand schools are ranked in the top echelon of countries in the OECD and that our tail is mostly caused by social effects well outside the control of any school (mainly poverty).

At St Mary’s we have  a commitment to keep our class sizes as small as possible, I have yet to hear of a similar school that has smaller sized classes.  Often the teacher due to their professionalism and burning desire to do the best for their class press me for more resources, but alas even we must adhere to budgets and allocations of funding and teacher staffing.

No class at St Mary’s has more pupils than the prescribed ministry guidelines, few schools can claim this.

We will battle to continue this trend, but your support makes this challenge far easier.  The Government will not be influenced by teachers or unions rather it is you, as parents, who will influence the outcomes of this debate.

Contact your local National MP Michael Woodhouse and voice your concerns to him.

At St Mary’s we battle very hard to make our resources go as far as we can: few schools have better resources, greater teacher aid time and smaller classes but all of this is under threat.  The challenges in education are always great because the stakes are so high (the future of our country) and we will continue to do our very best for your children but take it from someone who knows class size does matter.

 I will be away the first two days of this week as part of the Catholic Education Offices Review Team reviewing St Theresa’s in Invercargill.

Mrs Kenneally will be Acting Principal in my absence, I will be back on Thursday.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


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