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‘Plain English’ reporting will fail our children

31 August 2005

NZPF: ‘Plain English’ reporting will fail our children

New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Pat Newman is strongly condemning National’s latest education policy statement, which outlines plans to introduce ‘Plain English’ reporting on a national basis.

“The National Party’s proposal is utterly ridiculous. It completely disregards the reporting systems we currently have in schools across New Zealand,” says Newman. “The report card they plan to create is nothing but a simplistic and insulting attempt to collect votes. It gives no details on the child’s progress, no work samples for parents to view. It is harking back to the educational dark ages.”

Newman says if National had bothered to consult with the education sector, they would have realised the futility of moving back to a national testing system. “There is nothing in a national testing model that will improve a child’s learning.

In fact, I challenge the National Party to show us evidence from any country in the world where national testing has improved childrens’ learning. Schools need to focus on childrens’ improvement from year to year, not their performance in relation to other schools. This proposed model merely creates a new bureaucratic nightmare for teachers, one that provides no validity for teachers, students or parents.”

Newman says National’s policy statement ignores the volumes of research which show that national testing has failed in a huge number of countries. “Take Finland, for example.

Finland is recognised as the world leader in education. They would never contemplate a national reporting system, and in fact have an educational model which contains the direct opposite of what National proposes. Why would this country want to move towards a model that has been soundly rejected by world leaders in education?”

“Everything we have been working towards in the New Zealand education sector could be undone with the simplistic system that National is proposing,” says Newman. “Yet again, they are promoting the blatant mistruth that our education system is failing our children.

It is not a failure in any sense. We are recognised as having a leading-edge education system, specifically it is based on sound educational principles and not political expediency. National is looking for muck where there is none, and they are gambling children’s educational future in a blatant bid to win votes.”

Newman, like most educational leaders, is incensed that the National Party has made arbitrary decisions without consulting with the educational sector. “How dare they sit in their offices in Wellington and think they know best for students across the country.

If they went into any school in New Zealand, the teachers would show them a system that works well for both students and parents.

This policy shows National’s total lack of understanding when it comes to the educational sector. This policy will fail. It’s time National spoke to the people who are more interested in delivering the best education for children, as opposed to chasing votes at the ballot box.”


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