top of page
  • rmacculloch

Ardern laughs off as ridiculous the awful effect on school children of being online, on screens, during her Covid lockdowns. New research from the London School of Economics proves her wrong.

During her time at the Kennedy School at Harvard, where former PM Ardern is spending her life in exile waiting for the extreme divides she created in NZ to heal before venturing back to her homeland, she's been giving interviews. She has been painting a picture of herself as a leader of outstanding qualities; who healed division; who led with empathy (her brand), particularly toward children. When asked about the effects of her Covid policies on Kiwi youngsters, she dismissively laughed off the question. Since Ardern defined her leadership as being one guided by "experts", she cunningly answered as follows: at 43 mins 40 secs into the Kennedy School session, Ardern says she did a video that was put up on Facebook during the pandemic, where "I interviewed a really well-known clinical psychologist, or maybe counsellor at least, who specialized in kids, where he said to the parents of New Zealand, 'If you're kids are watching a lot of TV, then its fine .. they're going to be OK'", as she laughed, and her host laughed, and the Harvard audience laughed. "That is empathetic policy-making", Ardern concluded. Her Kennedy school professor host replied, "It's a beautiful example". The audience whooped in delight.

Yesterday, I received the latest articles from the Centre of Economic Performance at London School of Economics, where I once worked. One, "A generation scarred by the Covid-19 pandemic", is by Steve Machin, an LSE "big name" in education & labour economics. The study says, "By deploying the latest econometric methods to understand how children develop skills over time, using data from UK cohort studies, we estimate the educational & lifetime impact of mass school closures & deepening social divides on a generation of children. In previous work, we highlighted the likely devastating impact that school closures would have on young people’s life prospects. The disruption of the pandemic on pupils in England will mean lower GCSE grades well into the 2030s. We estimate that a quarter of pupils received no schooling during the first lockdown in early 2020. Pupils eligible for free school meals, those educated at state schools, & those from less affluent backgrounds, suffered learning losses at a much greater rate than their more affluent peers. Even our previous gloomy predictions did not foresee the perfect storm of factors that would exacerbate inequalities inside & outside education in the wake of the pandemic .. .".

NZ's lockdowns were far more severe than the United Kingdom's. So it turns out Ardern is talking uniformed, empty, marketing-your-own-brand, fake soundbites. As for the Profs at the Kennedy School singing along with her, pretending to be common people, they also should be ashamed. There's now exceptionally strong evidence that the effect on children of pandemic policies has been devastating. NZ's Labour Party hit the poor hardest, which will exacerbate inequality in NZ for the foreseeable future. Beware of Ardern, Hipkins and the Otago medical "experts" trying to rewrite history about the effect of their actions.


bottom of page