Please attribute to Deputy State Services Commissioner Debbie Power
Following the release of the Ombudsman’s report today, the Ministry of Education has apologised for failing to provide the information it should have during its early engagement with the Christchurch community over school re-organisation in the wake of the Canterbury Earthquakes.
The Ministry should have handled the announcements on 13 September 2012 and the process leading up to them more effectively.
The Ministry has accepted that this process should have been handled differently and has apologised for this on a number of occasions. They have worked hard since 2012 to put things right and rebuild trust and confidence in them in Christchurch.
The Ombudsman has found that the Ministry did not engage and communicate well enough with schools and communities. However while mistakes were made, I am confident that there was no intention from Public Servants to deliberately mislead or deceive.
The Ministry has made a number of changes since 2012, including to its engagement process to make sure it is better prepared for any future closure or merger processes. It is currently working with school leaders on further improvements to this process.
I support the steps the Ministry has taken to put this right. I commend them for recognising they got their processes wrong, apologising for it and making sure it won’t happen again.
Note for reporters
The announcements of planned school closures and mergers took place at the Lincoln Events Centre on 13 September 2012.
Current State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes became Acting Secretary for Education on 9 Feb 2013 then Secretary for Education on 25 June 2013. As a former Secretary for Education Mr Hughes has recused himself from involvement with the Ombudsman’s report.