Cool heads needed on online learning plans

The National government is ploughing ahead with a plan to legislate for the introduction of online schools against official advice and despite being presented with research that shows online schooling models overseas have weaker results than their traditional counterparts, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“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 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.

“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.

“The Education Review Office have 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 are rushing to legislate. It’s plainly irresponsible.

“It’s time 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,” Chris Hipkins says.