Labours education MP hits region
28 April 2015
REGIONAL TOUR: Labour MP Chris Hipkins was in the Eastern Bay on Wednesday talking with teachers.
EASTERN Bay teachers had the ear of Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins for a few hours on Wednesday.
The MP for Rimutaka was in the area as part of a “reconnecting tour” that involved Labour MPs leaving their offices and electorates and visiting regional towns and cities.
Mr Hipkins spent a day in the Eastern Bay where he met with kohanga reo, early childhood and primary teachers in Kawerau, Whakatane and Waiotahi before travelling on to Gisborne.
While in Kawerau he also met Mayor Malcolm Campbell to discuss social issues affecting the town’s young people, and challenges arising from those issues.
Everywhere he went, he said, he was warmly received with people remarking they had not seen Labour out and about for a while.
At the early childhood centres he heard first-hand about the pressures facing smaller establishments now that big multi-nationals were coming in and “hoovering” up small centres – often employing unqualified staff.
“Really high-quality care businesses just don’t get the same economies of scale and they are struggling with that,” he said.
He said teacher morale was generally very low across the country, and this was reflected in his discussions in the Eastern Bay.
“Really passionate people who have been teaching a long time and relatively new teachers are saying: ‘I’m thinking about whether this is what I want to do’.
“That is not good … it comes down to the general culture within the education system.”
He believes the creativity and fun have been sucked out of education and need to be returned.
“If children are having fun they learn more. If they are bored and feel like they are just going through the motions then they are not enjoying themselves.”
He claims to know as soon as he walks into a place whether the children are learning and happy.
“You can feel it when you walk into the classroom, or early childhood centre, that this is a good environment – and you can feel the ones that aren’t.
“The ones that are have a common denominator. The kids have a degree of freedom to develop at their own pace.”
Source: Whakatane Beacon