The Labour Party has taken issue with the Government’s plan for online schooling, announced by education minister Hekia Parata in August, saying the move goes against official advice and is being made despite overseas research showing online schooling models overseas have weaker results than their traditional counterparts.
Under legislation proposed by Parata school-age students could be allowed to enrol in an accredited online learning provider instead of attending school.
Labour’s Education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins, said: “The National government are rushing to legislate for online schools, or COOLs as they call them, without knowing how they will work, how they will be funded, how they will be quality assured, or whether they will actually deliver any better outcomes than the existing school system.
“Advice provided to [finance minister] Bill English by the Treasury questions the goals of the change, the lack of detailed analysis, and highlights some of the very real risks of rushing ahead, yet the National government are ploughing on regardless.”
Hipkins added: “Treasury’s warning that online schools could be used as a ‘parking space’ for kids who were already at risk of failure should really set alarm bells ringing. These kids need extra support, not to be parked at home in front of a computer.”
He added: “The Education Review Office has also warned that those learning via distance programmes can lack skills and motivation to work by themselves. Even basic issues like the balance of responsibilities between parents and education providers haven’t been worked through and yet the National Government is rushing to legislate. It’s plainly irresponsible.”
Hipkins called for cool heads to prevail. “National should go back to the drawing board, do their homework, and come back with a plan that has been properly worked through,” he said.