Otago Daily Times - By John Lewis on Thu, 28 Mar 2013
The journal, published by Learning Media, is believed to be the longest-running serial publication for children in the world, and provides 7 to 13-year-olds with New Zealand-based reading material that is relevant to their lives.
Until recently, Learning Media produced the majority of the Ministry of Education's curriculum related print publishing through an uncontested preferred supplier agreement.
However, this agreement lapsed last September, and the company recently announced it was no longer in a position to publish unsolicited manuscripts from New Zealand authors.
The announcement worried teachers and writers around the country - some believing publication of the journal had been suspended.
New Zealand Society of Authors chief executive Maggie Tarver said there had been ''a bit of drama'' surrounding the issue.
''It's my understanding that the preferred providers agreement that the ministry have with
Learning Media is coming to an end and the ministry is putting out for tender all the educational material currently printed by Learning Media.
''Our concerns are that the School Journal will be discontinued.
''We hope it is not becoming a cost-cutting exercise.
''If it goes out to tender to several different providers, we want assurances quality and quantity won't change, and that it won't be tendered offshore,'' she said.
Ministry group manager Pauline Barnes said the process would not result in any charge to schools, production going offshore, or changes in content, particularly that submitted by New Zealand writers.
She said the ministry began a process in 2009 to establish a panel of preferred suppliers that could meet the ministry's present and future needs, given the ongoing economic environment and the evolving publication situation.
The panel started in September last year and Learning Media won a place on the panel for content, print and digital design, digital development, online support and print services.
When tendering for work, suppliers on the panel respond to ''requests for quote'', and then a preferred supplier is selected.
If appropriate for the nature of the work, several preferred suppliers may be selected.
Learning Media chief executive David Glover said he was ''confident'' it would continue to publish the School Journal.
He said the company would also continue to receive manuscripts, but had stopped corresponding with the authors at this time because it had enough content to produce the School Journal for ''this year's run''.
''We've changed our policy. We're not in a position to proactively manage unsolicited manuscripts at this time.
''Everyone wants to be the next Margaret Mahy. It's the one publication that everyone aspires to be published in.
''We're trying to slow down the torrent of stuff that comes through.''
''It's not true that the publication will be discontinued,'' he said.
''We are working on several editions of the journal right now.''
The School Journal was initiated in 1907, by inspector-general of schools George Hogben, to provide New Zealand schoolchildren with a free publication containing information on history, geography and civics.
Many of New Zealand's foremost authors and illustrators have had their work published in the School Journal, including Rita Angus, James K. Baxter, Alistair Campbell, Russell Clark, Jack Lasenby and Mervyn Taylor.