What does this mean for the VLN Primary school? Make sure your voice is heard in the consultation process about online learning in schools.

It was not entirely unexpected that the new government would make this decision to repeal CoOLs. There were major reservations voiced about this legislation and we shared some of these concerns especially in respect to:

  • Privatisation of education
  • Quality of online education and the important role of teachers
  • An open educational marketplace that has the potential to undermine public schooling 
  • Full time online schools as an option for all students 
  • Equity and access for learners

However we supported CoOLs because:

  • The VLN Primary has been actively lobbying and making submissions for the resourcing and support of online learning 
  • It would provide a regulatory framework and resourcing for virtual learning that is already taking place in New Zealand 
  • It would provide recognition and support for virtual learning in the ‘mainstream’ education setting
  • It would provide more choice and learning opportunities for learners 
  • It would help build capability across networked communities of schools 
  • It has the potential to level the playing field especially for smaller rural schools 
    (See our Communities of Online Learning Submission to the Education and Science Select Committee)
So it would be fair to say that for me personally I feel disappointed that after advocating for so many years to provide a place for online learning as a legitimate part of the New Zealand education system this will now be repealed. We are still having to continue to advocate to ensure that we can provide the best online learning opportunities we can for our schools and learners.  This is especially difficult at this time when our resourcing needs are so immediate. "This is a time when we should be strategically stepping up and helping lead change in this area, not struggling to keep afloat."

However, I have spent some time reading through MoE recommendations (worth a read). Much of these recommendations are based on stakeholder discussions and research (attached below) that we were an active part of, and that was originally set up to inform the guidelines for CoOLs. In considering this I can appreciate the opportunity that going back to the drawing board will bring in aligning online learning to the whole system review that is underway. 

My main concerns are that:

  •  online learning doesn't get left by the wayside within the wider process of review, 
  • small rural schools get equitable and fair opportunities, 
  • the government understands there are many models of working online across schools and they all require adequate funding and support,
  • the way online learning is working in primary schools is very different but as important to what is happening in secondary schools.

The VLN Primary submission to this consultation is attached below.

(This article is my own professional view and not necessarily that of the VLN Primary School governance group and member schools. Rachel Whalley, ePrincipal)