New doco says NZ education system is ‘grossly unfair’

Documentary maker Bryan Bruce says the government could do better for our children.

Bryan Bruce is not afraid to ask the big questions whether he is looking at child poverty or the growing divide between rich and poor. The Scottish-born Kiwi filmmaker, who was responsible for the documentaries Mind The Gapand Inside Child Poverty, is now putting New Zealand’s education system under the microscope.

In his documentary, World Class? Inside NZ Education: A Special Report, Bryan, a former teacher, looks at what he believes are some fundamental problems in schools.

He is critical of the reforms, known as Tomorrow’s Schools, which started in the 1980s in which schools became self-managing.

 “So what happened in 1987 is the politicians got involved and thought ‘We know better than the teachers. We’re going to get involved and every school will manage itself and we’ll have these boards.’

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“What happened is that schools in rich areas did really well because they had accountants and lawyers on their boards and schools in poor areas didn’t do well because they didn’t have the capacity to pull in money and all of that. What we’ve really ended up with is an apartheid system of education. Our system of education is grossly unfair.

“Every child who enters the public system of education should have the same right not just to enter it but to actually succeed in it and that’s not the case.

“If education was a reality game show I’d be giving out roses to the teachers and voting treasury off the island. I’d be telling the ministry that if they don’t help teachers more, they’ll be next to go.”

For his documentary Bryan travels to New York, China and Finland to compare their education systems with New Zealand’s. He also shines the spotlight on South Auckland’s Manurewa Intermediate, a decile one school he says is “one of the best schools in the country”.

“It’s run by an incredible principal called Iain Taylor. They have a discovery approach where you will find what the child is interested in and then you will teach from that position. So if a kid likes motorbikes you start there. They read about motorbikes. The idea is to develop a passion for learning.

“If you keep testing children on knowledge, you drive that passion for learning out of them.”

World Class? Inside NZ Education: A Special Report – TV3, May 24

 – TV Guide


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