News from Learning Media
The Board of Learning Media has agreed with the Government that the company does not have a viable on-going business. Accordingly the company is to be wound down through a managed process. Projects currently underway will be delivered as scheduled and transition arrangements put in place for longer-term work programmes to ensure continuity.
Learning Media was created in Wellington in 1939, when the School Publications Branch in the Department of Education was formed. It became a Crown Company in 1993 and a State Owned Enterprise in 2005. The company creates digital and print educational resources such as The School Journal and Te Wharekura and also provides professional development for teachers. The company employs 109 FTE staff, including editors, designers, project managers and software programmers.
Learning Media chair Jenn Bestwick says the significant contribution Learning Media has made to New Zealand’s education sector over many years is recognised by both the Government and Ministry of Education. A key priority as the company winds down is ensuring that the valuable skills and capability of Learning Media’s staff are able to be retained within the sector.
Ms Bestwick says the company has operated in challenging market conditions. Declining revenues in traditional publishing have undermined the company’s profitability and despite strategies to diversify into digital publishing and to develop products for other sectors and markets, the company has not been able to maintain a viable business. The Board is now in agreement with Cabinet that there is no realistic possibility of the company improving its financial position.
“While it is disappointing that the company will no longer exist, it is heartening to know that the excellent work produced by the company, such as The School Journal, will continue to be provided to schools.”
Learning Media and the Ministry have commenced discussion about ways in which the valued expertise within the company can continue to benefit the sector.
Media release from Ministry of Education
Schools will receive all publications and continue to access online resources as expected and will not be affected by the wind-down of Learning Media. Deputy Secretary for Education, Andrew Hampton, says the Ministry is contacting schools today to reassure them they will be receiving all curriculum resources they are expecting.
“We will be working with other providers and putting in place plans that mean schools won’t be impacted by what is happening with Learning Media. Work will be transitioned so the School Journal and all the other publications schools are expecting will continue to arrive as scheduled and into the future.”
Mr Hampton says Learning Media has made an extremely valuable contribution over a number of years providing quality education resources, and the Ministry would like the critical expertise of its staff to continue to be available to the education sector.
“We are working to identify opportunities for this. In particular, we want to make sure Māori Medium capability remains available, along with expertise in Pasifika culture and language.”
Mr Hampton says the Ministry followed good procurement practice by putting in place a panel of preferred suppliers last year for the development of curriculum resources.
“The Government has required all agencies to demonstrate value for money and this has meant a more competitive environment for the services we need. The change also meant we had access to an even broader range of innovative and creative resources and technologies. There are other suppliers on the panel who also have a proven track record of providing quality resources that meet the needs of schools and children.”
Media release from NZ Government
The production of high-quality educational resources, including the renowned School Journal, will continue after the Government’s decision to wind down the operations of government-owned Learning Media, Finance Minister Bill English and Education Minister Hekia Parata say.
Learning Media today announced the decision because it is apparent the company is not financially viable.
“We are still working through the precise nature of the wind down, but it will involve government support to enable an orderly transition over the next few months, subject to successful commercial negotiations” Mr English says. “We are disappointed that Learning Media has come to this situation. Since losing the exclusive contract to supply the Ministry of Education in 2011, Learning Media’s annual revenue has fallen by around 25 per cent. The company had made progress in adapting to the more competitive government contracting environment, introduced to ensure the most cost effective provision of services across the government sector. It has worked to restructure its operations and broaden its business strategy to adapt to this new environment, but unfortunately it has not been sufficient to ensure its long term survival.”
Ms Parata says the impact of this decision on staff is of paramount concern.
“We will work with staff to provide transition pathways where possible to ensure their skills and capabilities remain available to the education sector,” she says. “Decisions on what will happen to the company’s current assets, including its educational resources, will be made as part of the wind down process. However, the Ministry of Education has guaranteed that it will provide support to ensure schools continue to receive all publications and resources as expected, and to minimise any disruption resulting from the company’s wind down.”
Media release from Greens
The Government’s obsession with competitive contracts has killed off a New Zealand educational treasure, the organisation that has published the school journal for the past 79 years, the Green Party said today.
The Government today announced that the operations of the government-owned Learning Media would wind down, and said decisions on what will happen to the company’s current assets, including its educational resources, will be made as part of the wind down process.
“This is a tragedy for New Zealand education. This is a tragedy for generations of Kiwis who have grown up reading the school journal,” said Green Party associate education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty. “This is a tragedy for the writers and educationists, like Margaret Mahy and Witi Ihimaera who have worked to make the school journal and Learning Media an institution that is famous the world over. It is also a tragedy for future generations for whom the new school journal will be something much less than it was, disconnected from its rich history.
“Learning Media is a unique collection of talented kiwis dedicated to education and this Government is killing this institution and risking the jobs of over 100 people.
“The National Government’s obsession with the free market has killed off this proud New Zealand institution and our children’s education will be poorer as a result,” said Ms Delahunty.
Media release from Maori Party
The Maori Party says the demise of Learning Media – Te Pou Taki Korero is a sad day for New Zealand children and schools and is calling on the Ministry of Education to confirm how they will ensure that students learning in te reo Maori and English will continue to be resourced to do so.
“We’d like to acknowledge all those writers, editors, artists and designers who over the decades have made a huge contribution to the production of resources for the children of New Zealand – from the old School Publications division of the Department of Education days to Learning Media -Te Pou Taki Korero – under the Ministry of Education. In particular we would like to acknowledge those involved in the production of Maori language resources which have assisted the growing number of Maori children learning in te reo Maori and which has also made a great contribution in the revitalisation of the language.”
“From its inception Learning Media – Te Pou Taki Korero has played a big role in enabling our tamariki to see their own experiences in the stories they read – in English and Maori. Our concern now is that we continue to cherish our rich cultural heritage by promoting identity and language through literacy. Literacy comes through seeing your stories in print and picture.”
“We expect that the Ministry of Education which promotes the concept of ‘Maori succeeding as Maori’ will guarantee to continue to fund resources in Maori and English that reflect the lives of all our tamariki.”
The Business of Education