Chief executive of the Ministry of Education Lesley Longstone
came under fire this morning over Novopay, charter schools, a
failed class size policy and Christchurch school closures.
Ms Longstone fronted the Education and Science Select
Committee today, and answered questions from Labour MPs Chris
Hipkins, Megan Woods, Sue Moroney, Green MP Catherine
Delahunty and NZ First's Tracey Martin.
Ms Longstone conceded she wished she could wind back the
clock over the rollout of Novopay.
"If I were to do it again, I would probably do it completely
and totally differently," she told the committee.
She announced at the committee that Novopay will be
independently reviewed over the ongoing errors in paying
The review would be carried out next year. It would review
both Talent2 and the ministry over why there had been so many
problems with Novopay, why preparations were not in place to
cope with the problems, and what could be done differently in
Ms Moroney asked what had happened to savings from the failed
class size policy, tagged to fund post-graduate teacher
Ms Longstone said the money was no longer there, as a result
of a backdown on changes to class size.
"At the time I was quite happy to say that I believed that if
you were making choices about where you invest your marginal
dollar, you would - on the basis of evidence - invest it in
quality teaching and learning rather than class sizes."
"That is not to say larger class sizes produced better
educational outcomes and small class sizes do not - but the
things that make the biggest difference are the quality of
teaching and learning."
Greens' education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty asked about
charter schools being proposed and why unregistered teachers
would be employed.
Ms Longstone likened accepting charter schools to the
development of the aeroplane, "where we started with one
propeller and then had two and eventually there was a
complete leap to you need a jet engine.
"It's the same with education; you need the space to be able
to innovate, and that's what partnership schools are doing."
Ms Delahunty said charter schools in the UK and overseas had
failed, and the system should not be followed here.
Ms Longstone said the ministry had not modelled charter
schools on any country.
She defended charter schools not being subject to the
Official Information Act, but said schools would be required
to meet National Standards.
On the subject of closures and mergers of Christchurch
schools, Ms Longstone was asked about a colour-coded name tag
system for announcements to school staff.
Staff were colour-coded depending on the fate of their
She said in retrospect, it had been a crude system but the
intention had been to make sure schools who would be
emotionally impacted wouldn't feel exposed by being around