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The Gift Of His Tomorrows

Posted on 14 Aug 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to the ceremony for the handover of the decorations of Brigadier Reginald Miles CBE, DSO & Bar, MC; The National Army Museum, Waiouru; Thursday, August 13 2009.

Lieutenant General Don McIver, Executive Trustee of the National Army Museum Executive Management Committee; Major General Rhys Jones, Chief of Army; Major General Lou Gardiner, Former Chief of Army; Brigadier Graeme Birch, Colonel Commandant Royal New Zealand Artillery; Brigadier John Dennistoun-Wood, HQ NZDF; Colonel Ray Seymour, Director of the National Army Museum; Mr Peter Thorne George and all members of the extended family of Brigadier Miles, official guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon

It is a great privilege for me to represent the New Zealand Government today to honour the service of one of our country's most significant military leaders.

It is nearly three years since Peter Thorne George contacted me on behalf of Brigadier Reginald Miles' extended family - represented by the 20 of you here today at the National Army Museum.

While it is gratifying for me - both as a soldier, and as the Associate Minister of Defence - to see this ceremony come together, I have no doubt that Brigadier Reg would be especially pleased and proud of you all.

You have already heard or read much about Reg Miles' distinguished military career. It is a reality for all servicemen that their military career is summarised, in the end, by a personal file and a set of medals.

I'm pleased, as I'm sure you are, that the medallic record of Reg Miles' long and dedicated service to this country will now be complete and on display for all to see and appreciate.

There have been - and always will be - soldiers, sailors and airmen. There are few warriors. There are even fewer visionary warriors.

To build anything of consequence requires more than just a dream. Reg Miles was one of those who not only had a vision - a dream - he also walked the talk. Through his planning and leadership over several decades, he laid the foundations for today's artillery and operational planning processes.

This day would not have been possible without the work of many and I wish to acknowledge in particular Brigadier (retired) John Dennistoun-Wood, who conducted the research; Major General (retired) Lou Gardiner who, as Chief of Army, approved the findings; and also the Director, Trust Board and staff of the National Army Museum who have worked behind the scenes to bring the detail of Reg Miles' extraordinary life together.

Brigadier Reginald Miles CBE, DSO & Bar, MC saw what tomorrow held. He selflessly gave up his tomorrows so that we - and so many others - could enjoy our todays.

In doing so, he deserves the special remembrance and respect of all New Zealanders. I hope, Peter, that you and Bill Dawson and all the rest of the family will continue the work started through this medals project and record the full story of your ancestor - lest others forget.


War Hero To Be Honoured By All New Zealanders

Posted on 13 Aug 2009

Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy was today delighted to attend, and address, a special ceremony at which the medals of New Zealand war hero Brigadier Reginald Miles were donated to the National Army Museum at Waiouru.

"An artillery officer, Brig Miles received 15 decorations - including the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the Military Cross - and a nomination for the Victoria Cross," Mrs Roy said.

"Remembered as a great leader and soldier, Brig Miles served with distinction in both World Wars - he undertook daring missions, was wounded several times in the line of duty, and was appointed as the first Commander Royal Artillery during WWII.

"Brig Miles' second DSO was awarded after he and two accomplices made a daring escape from a high-security POW camp in Italy and he crossed half of Europe to reach Spain.

"Today's ceremony is the culmination of a decades-long quest by Brig Miles' family to locate, replace and preserve his medals.

"The Government and the New Zealand Defence Force are honoured that the Miles family have generously chosen to donate these medals to the National Army Museum so that New Zealanders now and in the future will be able to recognise and celebrate the bravery of one of our most gallant and illustrious soldiers," Mrs Roy said.


Uniqueness And Innovation

Posted on 12 Aug 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to Westmount School Auckland Campus; Miller Road, Mangere Bridge, Auckland; Tuesday, August 11 2009.

Ladies and gentlemen, students, teachers, parents, grandparents and trustees.

Good morning. I'm delighted to be here to help you mark another milestone in the development of Westmount School. I am honoured that you have asked me to open your new senior school block.

I'm enjoying visiting independent schools around the country - you all represent choice for students and parents, and are part of a strong and dynamic sector that plays an important role in lifting the overall performance of the education sector as a whole.

As Associate Minister of Education, I am pleased to be involved in strengthening the Government's relationship with independent schools - a relationship that achieves ACT and National's aims of enhancing school choice, and which preserves your school's special character.

I know that there are particular values and aspirations dear to the Brethren community, and that your school was established to provide a quality learning environment that upholds those. Like other schools with special character you are unique, and that uniqueness calls for a flexible approach from the Government.

The shape of the New Zealand Curriculum - the document that you've based your teaching and learning programmes on - allows for this much-needed flexibility. Schools decide for themselves the detail of their vision, values and principles.

One attribute that you have chosen to focus on developing in your students is that of self-directed learning, which leads on to lifelong learning. Westmount School is taking this approach and giving senior students the chance to develop initiative, independence and confidence and often puts teachers in a role more like that of a facilitator.

If we expect adults to be self-managing life-long learners, then self-directed learning at an early age is crucial. Your use of technology is very impressive but, in reality, it is an enabler. It is your choice of - and commitment to - self-directed learning that is responsible for your success. You are leaders in this area, and I congratulate you for that.

I'm impressed at the way in which your school has expanded since opening in 2004 with 450 students to the 1,450 attending 15 campuses around the country today.

Parents in your community want the best for their children and choice is key to achieving this. You provide them with that choice, and it's clear that a growing number of parents in the Brethren community are selecting your school as the education option that best suits their children's needs to provide quality education.

Furthering school choice is a key part of the ACT-National Confidence & Supply Agreement. ACT has always campaigned for school choice, and National has said it will:

"work, over time, to increase the education choices available to parents and pupils so families have more freedom to select schooling options that best meet the individual needs of their children."

National and ACT in Government are well aware that there is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' education model to suit all children, and we are committed to providing parents with more freedom make the decisions around what schooling is best for their children.

The uncertain economic climate has meant that everyone has had to tighten their belt. This brings challenges to all organisations, but it is often in tough times that innovative thinking occurs and this is an area in which independent schools can - and are - taking a lead.

What I have seen here today is a prime example of innovative thinking in action. I am impressed by the way in which you have risen to the challenge of providing your students with a full syllabus across your 15 campuses.

I have no doubt that this was an undertaking that had the potential to adversely stretch your resources, but you've developed innovative solutions to this. I've heard a little about the use of your virtual learning environment using 'Moodle', and I'm looking forward to seeing your video conferencing lessons in action today.

I know that you have a strong business focus and that senior students from Year 12 take part in the Young Enterprise Scheme. Not only are you being innovative with your provision of a quality education, but you are nurturing and encouraging innovation in your students.

In the short time that I have been here today, I have also seen very clearly just how well your curriculum works when put into action. Congratulations on your impressive academic record - your NCEA results at Westmount are well above the national average across all levels. This is a great feat for a school that has only been in existence for five years.

Over the next four years, the Government has committed to spending over $8 million to ensure that NCEA is robust, fair, and builds credibility with employers. It is imperative for parents and students to be able to rely on worthwhile qualifications.

Aligning the NCEA to the revised curriculum is an important part of this work. Our goal is to develop a broad range of pathways so that you can all leave secondary school ready for work, training or further study. That's what our Trades in Schools policy is about, and why we are introducing Trades Academies and investigating school-based apprenticeships.

This Government has moved to make independent schools more affordable for more parents by increasing the funds available to them - something schools like yours have waited some time for.

Budget 2009 included a $10 million per annum boost to Government funding of independent schools - the first increase the Independent School sector has received since 2000. Last week I announced that the additional $10 million per annum would be split two ways - $7.4 million will go directly to schools to increase the current subsidy per student by 21 percent. The other $2.6 million will provide scholarships for students from low-income families - 150 starting next year, with 50 at each of the Year 9, 10, and 11 levels, increasing to 250 in total by 2012.

This is an important step toward honouring ACT and National's pledge to widen the education choices available to students and their parents. The success of these scholarships will be dependent on the support of schools like yours and I would be delighted to see some scholarships at Westmount school.

As well as this boost in funding, the Government is also helping to ease the burden on independent schools by freeing you up from government regulation. Independent schools already enjoy some freedom from this, and I'd like to see that freedom extended. It is important that schools focus on the needs of their students and parents, rather than the demands of central government.

With such high aspirations and a full syllabus for your students, it is vital that this school - and all others like it - are able to focus on the needs of students and parents, rather than on the demands of Government.

I want principals and teachers to lead learning; I want schools to be able to concentrate on teaching and Boards to be able to focus on providing proactive governance. Valuable time and energy should not be wasted on satisfying an over-powering and needless bureaucracy. Our sole aim needs to be that of delivering the best education outcomes for all children and young people to ensure that they have the tools and opportunities with which to reach their full potential.

We need to place high trust in leaders at the front-line, and encourage and promote self-managing schools. This means encouraging and fostering strong educational leadership in every school - be they State schools, integrated, independent, Rudolph Steiner, or Westmount School, whatever the philosophy. This leadership is critical to ensuring the achievement of education goals.

Thank you for inviting me to open your new senior school buildings. I am sure this project that has been a focus for your community for some time will be enjoyed by students and teachers alike. Congratulations again on your impressive teaching programme but more importantly your focus on self-directed learning. I believe this is the future for our country and I look forward to watching your progress in the years to come.


Supporting Special Needs Students Into The Future

Posted on 08 Aug 2009

Hon Heather Roy launch of the new Transition Service for Secondary Aged Students in Christchurch; Ministry of Education, Riccarton, Christchurch; Friday, August 7 2009.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Grant, for your warm welcome - and thank you to the Christchurch Transition Services Steering Group for inviting me to speak to you this evening.

I am delighted to be here as Associate Minister of Education to launch this new service.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone here: representatives from Government agencies; from Ngai Tahu; from schools and businesses; and those of you from the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.

Welcome to students, families and whanau; and to the other speakers we have here with us today - Wayne Francis Trust Chair Helena Francis; Peter Townsend, from the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce; and Sonja Carpenter for your perspective as a parent.

I think you will all agree that the stars of tonight's launch are Caroline Quick and Andrew Dever, who are representative of the students we are here to acknowledge. Getting up and speaking in front of a large group of people you don't know is no easy task, and today you both did it exceptionally well. Congratulations to you both and our thanks for your contribution to this project.

Background to the Transition Service
The transition from secondary school to adult life, work and study is one of the most crucial times in a young person's life. It is a time when students need advice, support and encouragement to choose the path that is right for them. I know as a parent myself the great excitement of this transition for our children and the challenges they face at the same time.

Students with disabilities face exactly the same excitement and challenges - the have the same rights as others to choose from the opportunities available to them when they leave school, but they can require a different type and level of support.

The Transition Service that we're launching today will provide a consistent and co-ordinated approach to the transition of students with disabilities from secondary school to the next stage of their lives. It will be based on the principles of valuing disability, of flexibility and accessibility, of partnership and - perhaps most prosaically - the importance of planning.

I'd like to briefly talk about how this Transition Service came about. It's a great example of a community identifying a need, and working together and with Government to ensure that that need is met. It's also a great example of schools making a difference for their students by working together and maximising their resources.

In 2006, the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust identified the need for more effectively supported transition for disabled secondary aged students in Christchurch.

In pursuit of this the Trust brought together people from the disability sector to form a reference group, undertook a stocktake of current transition services, and made recommendations to Government based on its findings.

In response, the Ministry of Education formed a Transition Working Party with members from across the sectors - the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce; the Ministries of Education and Social Development; the tertiary, schooling, and disability sectors; and, of course, the students and their parents.

The Working Party developed a vision of what an effective transition service for secondary students with disabilities would look like; what its key activities would be; how it could meet the needs of students, families, and schools; how it could be funded. It was from this vision that a new approach to transition services we're celebrating today was developed.

How the Transition Service will work
The Lead School Model Transition Service will deliver a whole range of transition services to disabled secondary school students across eight Christchurch schools.

Allenvale Special School and Resource Centre will be the Lead School, with the Transition Service also covering: Hillmorton, Papanui, Riccarton, Mairehau, and Cashmere High Schools; Ferndale School; and Waitaha Learning Centre.

Hopefully, over time, more schools will be able to take part as the service develops. Your model and experiences here in Christchurch are being closely monitored by others around the country who are looking on in awe of the progress your project has made.

The Transition Service will support schools to develop student-centred transition planning - 'student-centred' meaning the process will be driven by the students and their families. Rather than just receiving the service, the student is actively involved in setting their goals and how they'll achieve them.

Students and their families will also drive the evaluations of the service - evaluations that will inform future planning and service delivery.

To explain more about how the Transition Service will work, I would like to talk about the report of the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, made after the Trust had completed its stocktake of transition services.

Among the recommendations made in the report were 10 guidelines for transition best practice identified during the Trust's research.

The first is that the transition process must start early - no later than the student's age of 14.

The second guideline is that partnerships between the school and supports in the community - such as tertiary providers, local business and commerce, and social support organisations - be developed at least two years before the student leaves school.

As with so many things in life, planning early and planning well will be key to a successful service.

The best practice guidelines emphasise the need for a transition programme to be integrated into students' general education, rather than as a separate and parallel programme.

They state the need for a clear distinction between the transition needs of the student and those of their family; for transition skills to be included in the curriculum and practised at home; and for adult settings to be available for students aged over 18 who are still at school.

The guidelines also include: identifying and overcoming barriers to disabled students, offering the information and support that will ensure students have a wide range of options, and regularly evaluating the outcomes of the transition service.

These elements can be all too easy to overlook if there is insufficient time and planning.

I'm delighted to see the depth of thought and preparation that has gone into the Transition Service we're launching today. Firmly based on the 10 best practice guidelines the service will maximise students' access to employment, tertiary and community-based options after secondary school.

The service will provide accessible and much-needed information to students, parents and whanau, schools and other stakeholders. It will provide training and professional development for schools and associated service providers and build links with the tertiary, business, and commerce sectors.

Before I finish, I'd like to highlight two aspects of the development of the Transition Service that have impressed me.

The first has been the development of strong links between local agencies and local businesses. The business sector has been actively involved in the project since its inception. One of the things the Wayne Francis Trust identified early on was that employer attitudes to disability were an essential feature of a successful transition.

The links developed through this project will take us a long way toward a better understanding of the capability, attributes and skills that disabled students offer for employers in our communities.

The second aspect is that the Transition Service has been developed without requests for additional funding despite the current economic climate. Tough times call for fresh thinking, and innovative ideas and solutions.

The current financial climate has meant that schools have contributed to the project through their current funding streams, the Wayne Francis Trust has made a generous one-off donation to assist with funding costs, and the Education Ministry has assisted with some establishment staffing costs to ensure the project gets off the ground started.

All of this has enabled the project to become operational and sustainable.

When I look around the room and see the passion, drive and generosity of this community I am very encouraged that the interests of disabled students in Christchurch when transitioning from school to adult life are well catered for.

Congratulations to you all for your contribution to this project.


Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 07 Aug 2009

Scholarships Just One Step In Furthering Choice In Education

ACT achieved a major milestone in our work to further school choice this week when, in my capacity as Associate Minister of Education, I announced a new scholarship initiative to enable 250 students from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend an independent secondary school that they and their families would previously not have been able to afford.

Furthering school choice is a key part of the ACT-National Confidence & Supply Agreement. ACT has always campaigned for school choice, and National has said it will:

"work, over time, to increase the education choices available to parents and pupils so families have more freedom to select schooling options that best meet the individual needs of their children."

In pursuit of this, National and ACT have established the Inter-Party Working Group in School Choice to consider options for increasing parental and student choice in education. I am chairing this project - along with members from the ACT, National and Maori Parties - and work is well underway.

The $2.6 million allocated to fund the scholarships is part of a $10 million increase to independent school funding in Budget 2009. The remaining $7.4 million has been used to boost the Private School Subsidy and will be paid directly to independent schools.

This increase to the subsidy and the new scholarships are important steps toward honouring ACT and National's pledge to widen the education choices to students and their parents. Under the scholarship initiative 150 students from low-income families will be able to go to an independent school in 2010, rising to 200 students in 2011, and 250 in 2012.

ACT and National in Government believe it is parents who are best placed to make the decisions around the education options that best suit their children's needs and require the freedom to make those choices. Choice is key to ensuring quality education outcomes and giving our children and young people the opportunities they need to reach their potential.

This Government understands that independent schools play an important role in providing that freedom and those opportunities, and this latest funding increase is recognition of that. It is also the first Government funding increase to independent schools since 2000, when it was capped by the then Labour Government. Since then - due to inflation and increased student numbers - the sector has experienced a 42 percent real decrease in funding levels.

While the New Zealand Education Act 1877 created a national system of State schools, it made no provision to aid independent schools. Over time, independent schools were provided with some goods and services supplied to State schools - eg school milk, free text books and access to advisory services - and in 1969 State resourcing was extended to include grants for operational expenses, furniture and equipment for new classrooms. Overall State funding for independent schools, however, remained low.

Then, in 1970, the Government introduced a State subsidy amounting to a 20 percent subsidy of teachers' salaries - and in 1975 passed the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act, increasing the subsidy to 50 percent of teacher salaries. This was in addition to the other measures of assistance they had secured in 1969 and before.

In 1989, the Labour Government cut funding to zero - only for it to be restored to 20 percent in 1991 when National returned to office, and then capped by Labour in 2000.

Frequently overlooked - and ignored by critics of private schooling - is the fact that independent schools save the Government money. Over four percent of school-age students - around 30,000 children - attend an independent school. This saves the State around $200 million per annum - and relieves some of the pressure on State schools.

But parents who choose an independent school for their children have to pay twice - once through taxes, and again through school fees - placing this option out of the reach of many families.

While there are many high-quality State schools, there is no such thing as a ‘One Size Fits All' education model to suit all children. What works for one child may not work for another. But families who cannot afford an independent school have no option but to accept the education offered by the State school closest to them - whether it works for their child or not.

This funding is a step toward giving parents that choice. The Government knows parents are best placed to choose the education that suits their children's needs. This funding will support parents in their choices and improve access for many families to a greater range of educational opportunities for their children.

Scholarships for 250 students from low-income families are just the beginning. They will considerably enhance the individual recipients' educational opportunities. But ACT aims for such choice and opportunity to be available to all students - not just those from better-off families or those fortunate enough to be awarded one of a limited number of scholarships. We want every Kiwi kid to have the same choices.

Lest We Forget - Wellington Battalion Captures Chunuk Bair (August 8 1915)
The attack on Chunuk Bair on August 8, 1915 highlighted the leadership of Lt-Col William Malone and is still seen today as a high point of New Zealand's Gallipoli effort.

On August 6, the assault was undertaken by two columns of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade who were to meet at Rhododendron Spur and proceed to the summit. It started well: the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and Maori Contingent cleared the way for the assault columns - but the attack was ordered before all infantrymen had reached the Spur.

The first attempt, made by the Auckland Battalion, failed. Malone, commander of the Wellington Battalion, refused to sacrifice his men in a daylight attack - telling his superiors:

"We are not taking orders from you people ... my men are not going to commit suicide."

Before dawn on August 8 1915, the Wellington Battalion made it to the summit. Sunrise, however, brought a barrage of fire from the Turks on higher ground to the north and the Battalion spent the day in a desperate struggle to hold Chunuk Bair.

By the time it was reinforced by the Otago Battalion and the Wellington Mounted Rifles, the Battalion had lost around 690 men - including Malone, killed by a shell.

New Zealand held Chunuk Bair for two days - only for the relieving British battalions to lose it in a Turkish counter-attack. A New Zealand memorial now stands on the summit.


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