The Ministry of Education released their draft Renewal Plan for Christchurch last week, outlining the strategy for what will happen for education in CHCH over the next few years in the wake of what happened to schools following the devastating earthquakes here last year. These left many school buildings destroyed and in need of rebuilding, while there are also significant demographic shifts as whole neighbourhoods are re-zoned for demolition and land deemed unsuitable for re-building.
During last year, the Ministry of Education facilitated widespread consultation with school leaders, teachers, parents and BOTs to bring together all of the ideas and thinking people have for what could be done. I participated in a few of these meetings and found them generally very invigorating, with ideas flowing around what a 'renewed' education system for CHCH might look like. While the earthquakes were an event noone would ever wish upon anyone, it is appropriate that the opportunity is taken to 'think afresh' about how a 'city-wide' provision of education services that extends beyond each individual school thinking just of its own needs and services.
From the diverse range of ideas that were shared, a number of consistent messages emerged, and these are reflected in the plan that has been produced. Those looking for detail and specific mentions of what is going to happen to their particular school will be disappointed, however, I don't imagine that was ever intended that this document would provide such detail. Instead, it provides a bigger picture overview, outlining the key strategic areas to guide future planning, resourcing and implementation.
On the positive side:
- My optimistic mind sees plenty in here to get enthused about, with a strong emphasis on the development of a networked future for education in CHCH
- I can see lots of the feedback from the consultation reflected in the document
With a more critical lens:
- Much of the document is a regurgatation of current government/MoE policy and direction that is broad in nature and the link to the specific context of post-quake CHCH isn't entirely evident (given that the national policy framework will be the context within which the recommendations in this document will be implemented anyway).
- The vision of a networked education system isn't that well defined or described in an aspirational sense – when looking for specific reference to the drivers of this vision the key references appear to be around 'cost containment', rather than an aspirational view of how this approach might better servce the needs of learners into the future.
I guess this is the sort of reflection the document is designed to provoke – after all it is a draft, and submissions are now called for by 31 May.