Quality education key for children

From the Beehive
Thursday, November 12, 2015

Quality education of our children has been a prime focus for this Government since 2008. We want to equip our children with skills so that they are ready to tackle the world and achieve their hopes and dreams. Southland’s young people are full of initiative and talent and bring home awards in all fields from sport to culinary challenges.

As part of this suite of measures, public consultation on revamping the Education Act is now open, the aim of which is to shift the focus from administration and compliance to raising student achievement in the 21st century. The Education Act is 26 years old, the world has changed since then and we need to give schools updated guidance on what educational success looks like.  The Act should clearly say what is expected of boards and allow the Government to set out a statement of national priorities.

I hope Southlanders will take the time to have their say to help shape the future of the education system.

The consultation process runs until December 14. Visit www.education.govt.nz/education-act-update.

Recently I took a trip to Stewart Island, along with Hon Paul Goldsmith, where we visited Halfmoon Bay School. I’ve been advocating for the school recently and it’s wonderful to see two teachers retained following the Trade Me campaign and that more families have moved to the island boosting students numbers and the demographic. It was evident isolation isn’t a barrier to quality education as we heard the talented senior students, who are taught music via Skype, play several songs for us.

I had the opportunity to catch up with some of the year 7 and 8 students again when they visited Wellington this month. It was great to see the students experience the capital city and visit Parliament. The trip came about through the Isolated Communities Fund.

I am also pleased about the recent partnership between the Southern Institute of Technology and a school in Sri Lanka. The partnership will mean increased cultural diversity in the south and will be beneficial to our economy. International students contributed about $43.4 million to the Invercargill economy in 2014, so nurturing and growing this industry is important for our region.

On a slightly different note, I have to say that heights really aren’t for me. So, knowing that later this month I will be teetering on the edge of a fire station training tower waiting to be dropped off the side is just a little scary, and possibly a bit mad. But I have agreed to participate in the Drop Your Boss fundraiser. It is to help raise funds for more than 1300 local youth in FYD Programmes; Kiwi Can and Career Navigator. I will be competing with a host of Invercargill leaders, bosses and well known locals who are also being dropped to see who can raise the most money.

To see me get dropped, come down to the fire station - corner of Jed & Don Street - on November 21 at 8.30am. To donate go to givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/dropsarahdowie