What with Xmas and New Year and just being busy, it took a while to meet with Ministry of Education Northland Regional Director, Hira Gage. The school had probably thought that they had got rid of me! I must say, what an awesome lady. I am a fan! I was really beginning to lose my faith that anyone involved with the school could be objective.
This blog is part of a story about my experience with religious education in my Daughter’s school. If you missed the start of it, you can find the beginning here.
Hira and I sat and discussed the situation for over an hour with my (long-suffering) Wife present. We went through the issues involved and Hira was refreshingly insightful when it came to cutting to the chase. I was able to explain my perspective without her making excuses or deflecting the conversation. She listened to what I had to say and she explained where she was able to help and where she wasn’t.
I learnt that the Ministry of Education actually has a lot less power to direct schools on what to do since an educational revolution in the 1980’s called “Tomorrows Schools”. This is a large part of the reason that schools all over the country have boards of varying quality and there are some decisions that seem “out there” (my quotes not hers).
There were a couple of things that Hira thought we might be able to find some sort of resolution on. Firstly, there is an obvious lack of information to parents about what the classes involve and how they work. Most parents would have no idea that the school is actually “closed” when they drop little Johnny off for Bible in Schools every Tuesday morning. It’s the only way that the “bible teachers” can spread their faith.
Second, perhaps the classes could be moved outside of normal school hours so that parents aren’t putting their kids into Bible Classes by default, just because that’s the time they want to drop them off. Maybe they could be moved to lunchtime or after school so that they are really “opt-in” instead of “opt-out”.
Personally, I don’t think evangelists should be allowed into the school grounds at all but I saw this as a possible compromise to reduce the manipulative way the classes are being filled with easily-moulded young minds now, so I thought it was worth trying.
Hira got back to me saying that while the school wasn’t willing to move the classes, but they were going to better inform parents. Because the BOT can do pretty much whatever they want to, there was no requirement to get back to Hira or myself. The school had said that they would change the question on the next survey to remove the “Ministry Approved” claim. This is a bit of a cop-out as it doesn’t correct previous misinformation or give parents the option to change their mind about the classes as they currently stand and it doesn’t go out until 2017 anyway. There is basically no proactive action taking place.
Without the board answering to anyone, I have no idea what they will do. Perhaps informing parents will mean sending them some promotional material from the providers of the classes? Awesome, really unbiased. They certainly haven’t got back to me to ask for input!
Just when I thought that the school was acting a little more reasonably, I saw this in the school newsletter on Friday 4th March 2016…
There’s been an obvious attempt to try and align the classes with the Ministry of Education again! The Bible in Schools programmes do not follow any Ministry of Education guidelines because there are none (there weren’t when this was published)! At least they are telling parents that the school is closed but as there is no explanation and they got the time wrong (9pm instead of 9am), I think it creates more confusion than anything else.
Given that the school is still being obstructive and my options for action through the Ministry of Education are virtually exhausted, it is now time to see what the locals think about it on Facebook! Comment below and find out what happened on facebook!