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Parata defends class size backdown

Friday 8 Jun 2012 9:07 a.m.

By 3 News online staff

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she listened to criticism from teachers' unions and the public before cancelling controversial plans to increase class sizes.

Speaking to Firstline this morning, she said the Government has no plans to reintroduce the policy at a later date.

“I think they’ve seen that we’ve heard, we’ve respected their genuine concern,” says Ms Parata.

An alliance of education sector groups including teachers’ unions tried to meet with Ms Parata earlier this week, but she denies that she refused to sit down to talk with them.

“I said that I had individual sector organisation meetings which have been taking place yesterday and for the balance of today, and that once I was through hearing their particular issues from their specific part of the sector, then we could later in the process meet with them.”

Ms Parata also denies that she didn’t know the full consequences of the class size policy when it was announced at the time of the Budget, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether she knew - and was happy with - the fact that some schools could lose up to 10 teachers as a result of the planned change.

In dropping the policy the Government is also losing millions of dollars in expected savings.

“We have had to sacrifice the $60 million that was going into initial teacher education and pre-principalship qualifications,” says Ms Parata.

The minister says the Government will be looking at every part of the system to try and make savings elsewhere, but she says they have no intention of re-introducing the policy at a later date.

“We have no plans to do that.”

Watch the full interview of Education Minister Hekia Parata talking to Firstline's Samantha Hayes.

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