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Shotgun approach to standards by union not helpful

Media release

Shotgun approach to standards issue by union not helpful

The continued “shotgun approach” by the primary teachers union (NZEI) and the Principals Federation (NZPF) to the Nationals Standards issue is not helpful to anyone says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

President Lorraine Kerr says the constant shifting of the ground, and arguments, hoping that one of the approaches will score a response with the school community, Boards of Trustees, and others, does not strengthen the unions’ case at all. Indeed, if they are not careful, there is a risk they may end up shooting themselves in the foot by way of an ever increasing credibility gap.

“Over the past 6 months, the arguments against National Standards have canvassed such things as the possibility that National Standards could lead to threats of national testing, a concern regarding the possibility of league tables and concern that students will be somehow adversely affected.

“There have also been claims parents/school communities don’t want National Standards, and National Standards won’t improve student achievement. These arguments have culminated with “lets have a trial” and in the last few days, to comparisons with what is happening in Australia, national testing (which we don’t have) and back to league tables,” Lorraine Kerr says.

The concerns appear to shift constantly, so it’s no surprise that many people find the whole debate somewhat confusing, and, in fact it is rapidly becoming quite tiresome, she says.

“I have every sympathy for those many parents/caregivers, who see nothing wrong with the idea that they should know how their children are doing in key areas, including literacy/numeracy, from wondering what the fuss is actually about,” Lorraine Kerr says.

NZSTA has also struggled at times to identify what the issue actually is, but did get some clarity at a meeting in late 2009 when the president of NZEI stated that NZEI would have no problems at all with National Standards if the threat of league tables was removed.

Lorraine Kerr says that if that is the real driving concern, it needed quickly dealt with.

“We need to get on with the job of ensuring that all students in NZ schools, without exception receive a high quality education, and that parents/caregivers have the ability to track progress of their children through regular high quality reporting.”


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