23 Sep 2021

Labour MPs reject Paul Goldsmith's request for briefing on Covid-19 impact by education officials

6:48 am on 23 September 2021

National Party education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith is criticising Labour MPs for rejecting his proposal to be briefed by Ministry of Education officials on the impact Covid-19 is having on learning.

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National's Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Goldsmith said Labour members on Education and Workforce Committee voted down his request to be briefed on the different actions being taken by schools and the impact it is having on exams and those with additional learning needs.

"There are widely different approaches that schools are taking during lockdown. Some carry on with the normally weekly timetable online and others just have infrequent contact with students," Goldsmith said.

"I want to get an understanding of the breadth of approaches and their plans to assess what works and what doesn't."

In his view, he could not see that anything had been learnt since the first lockdown 18 months ago.

The Select Committee enabled MPs to scrutinise the government's actions, but Goldsmith felt his concerns had been dismissed.

"When you have an extraordinary situation like this where the county is closed down and 800,000 kids haven't been able to go to school, I think that warrants having some serious inquiry into how things are going and what are we doing."

He wanted assurances that students would be given the opportunity to catch up.

Instead, he had been told he could direct oral questions to the minister, Chris Hipkins, in the House.

"If it all went really bad and we were missing school next term as well, maybe we [Select Committee members] deserve a briefing then, which seems to me to be an extraordinary statement," Goldsmith said.

However, the Select Committee's chair, Labour MP Marja Lubeck, said Goldsmith was given the opportunity to question Hipkins at the select committee on the 25 August.

He was joined by Ministry of Education official Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Lubeck said.

"Additionally [the] Covid response will be a significant feature of our upcoming Annual Review of the Ministry of Education."

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