Alf has been gobsmacked by the latest madness from the mandarins at the Ministry of Education.
He shouldn’t have been. Their madness is chronic and they can’t help themselves.
But now schools are being ordered to re-enrol some brats, delinquents and assorted ratbags they thought they were rid of because they were tossed out for bad behaviour including carrying weapons, physical assaults and drug use.
At least, that’s what we learn today from the NZ Herald.
In the past year, there have been 11 incidences where the Ministry of Education has directed a school to take back a student previously excluded.
The cases involved eight schools and students aged from 11 to 15, information released to the Herald reveals.
But schools can resist an order to take back a student, commonly where pupil or staff safety is an issue, the Herald says.
Last year, the ministry backed down on an order for Paeroa Central School to take back a 10-year-old who had assaulted a teacher and told other students he would “cut them up with a knife”.
The Paeroa Central School balked at the demand it take back a brat who had assaulted a teacher and threatened to carve up his fellow playmates.
Alf is astonished that the mandarins ever thought it was a good idea.
The Herald goes on to explains that when a student is excluded from a school, it must try to get the delinquent child enrolled elsewhere.
Enrolling them in a borstal is Alf’s inclination.
When an alternative enrollment is not on, the ministry mandarins can direct another local school to enrol the student – or, so help us, they can direct the pupil’s last school to lift the exclusion and allow their return.
This option – it seems – is more common for rural or small town schools, often the only viable schooling option.
That’s where Alf becomes more than usually excited, because Eketahuna’s school – a splendid outfit – comes into the rural or small-town category.
Mind you, the good people of Eketahuna would not spawn brats.
Alf’s concerns on that school’s behalf accordingly may well be misdirected.
But let’s feel some sympathy for the teachers and parents at schools where the heavies have leaned on them.
Cromwell College was one of eight schools between May and June last year that was directed to lift an exclusion.
The others were Aranui High (Christchurch), Dannevirke South School, East Otago High (Palmerston), Mountainview High (Timaru), Southland Boys (Invercargill), Te Kuiti High and Waitaki Girls (Oamaru).
Cromwell principal Mason Stretch is being a bit coy, when it comes to giving reasons for the exclusions. But he said the direction related to more than one student.
“I don’t think any board is happy when they have decided that person is to be excluded based on what they see as the needs of the overall schooling community. But the ministry has that right to redirect, and we acknowledge that and we have to work with it.”
Efforts have centred around restorative conferences for the excluded students, their families, school staff and other people affected by bad behaviour.
This Stretch feller seems unduly accommodating. He says the ministry has provided support for this process, including staff training, and it has worked well.
“That basically cleared the air, so since then we’ve had no issues with those students. The restorative process, in terms of their return, was critical.”
The statistics are worth mentioning: 44 students were excluded from school and then enrolled at another school at the direction of the ministry between May and June last year.
In the same period, 84 students were excluded from school and enrolled at the Correspondence School under the ministry’s direction.
Dunno why we can’t open a school on Campbell Island or some such for brats and send the bad buggers there.
Finding teachers willing to teach them would be challenging but perhaps some of the teachers who don’t pass muster because they are apt to fiddle with the kids or some such could be considered. There seems to be something very appropriate about putting bad kids in the not-so-tender care of bad teachers.
Must have a chat with Hekia about this. She enjoys a good chat with Alf on education policy.