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NZPTA Urges Parents: Think Carefully On Ed Policy

New Zealand Parent Teacher Association Inc.

As an a-political organization, we cannot endorse any particular party’s Education Policies.

However, what we can do, is to urge parents to think carefully about all the ideas that are put in front of them, discuss them at their PTA/Parent Group meetings – not to convince anyone of anything, but to throw around ideas about the ramifications and realities behind their statements.

Of course, with the news just out, we have not had a chance to get feedback from our members, but we make the following comments on the National Party Education Policy.

Most of the parents we have spoken to, do not have a difficulty with interpreting the NCEA results – neither do their children. School Certificate had been going for a long time, but every year there were comments about the difficulty/ease/mistakes in the papers. NCEA is new yet and of course it has bugs – they need to be ironed out – not completely overhauled, thus putting teachers under more strain.

Good teachers do not ‘assess instead of teaching’, they use the two strategies together – teaching what the in-class-in-situ ‘assessment’ shows needs to be taught.

We would emphasize that our organization’s name includes that of ‘Teacher’ which means that we are concerned about those who are in the classrooms in front of our children.

Parents, generally, during the last round of ‘policies’ were not in favour of bulk funding or national testing, especially the latter because schools, on the whole, are so much better at communicating to the parent on a child’s performance. Unfortunately, national testing seems to lead to ‘league tables’ which cannot, by their very nature, give the full picture of a school. There are many factors which go into making up a ‘good’ school – test results are not really a very good indicator.

We’re not sure on the idea of vouchers to parents for private tutoring. The new approaches from the Ministry on numeracy and literacy seem to be working – from feedback we have had and it is very difficult to see who would be doing the tutoring, where these tutors would be based and would everyone – and we mean everyone – have the knowledge of and access to such tutoring services. We feel that a lot of money could be spent in this area which would be better given to the schools to upgrade their strategies and programmes.

The other points in the policy are so very general with no how’s, where’s, who’s and so on, that they are too nebulous to comment upon.

It all sounds good, but so do all political party statements in election year.

We urge parents to discuss the policies with each other, have a teacher or principal to talk to their PTA/Parent group meeting about their point of view and to quiz their local National Party candidate for more details.

As they will/should/would do for any other party policy.

Diane O’Sullivan

President.

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