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Principals Bewildered by Secretary’s Claims

Media Release October 29 2012 – for immediate release
Attention: Education and Political Reporters

Principals Bewildered by Secretary’s Claims

The achievement of New Zealand children in literacy, numeracy and science is regularly assessed by the OECD. New Zealand is ranked as a world class system of education, and has achieved in the top ten countries of the world for several years.

‘It bewilders us that the Secretary for Education cannot understand that New Zealand has had a world-class system of education for some years,’ says Peter Simpson, Past President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation. ‘The world ranking cannot be disputed. It is a fact,’ he said.

‘The problem we have in New Zealand,’ says Simpson, ‘is not an educational achievement issue but an equity issue,’ he said.

‘The Secretary has correctly identified equity as an issue the country must urgently address, but has picked the wrong solution,’ says Simpson. ‘Dismantling a high performing education system will not put less money in the pockets of the richest and more in the pockets of the poorest,’ he said.

Simpson suggests that the Secretary should look to the success of countries like Finland for the correct solution.

‘Finland has one of the highest equity levels of any country in the world,’ said Simpson. ‘That takes a whole of Government commitment,’ he said, ‘and greater educational success came as a natural consequence of the Government making equity a priority.’

‘For the Finnish education sector achieving equity meant reducing choice, rejecting competition and supporting a quality public education system because as Finnish expert Pasi Salberg says, you can’t have both choice and equity at the same time,’ said Simpson.

New Zealand is already making progress for its most vulnerable groups, as the Minister of Education excitedly reported in September. For example, the increase in the number of Maori and Pacific Island students attaining NCEA levels one, two and beyond between 2009 and 2011 is substantial and clearly reflects that professionals are on the right track.

‘The best thing the Secretary could do for continuing to raise Maori and Pacific Island children’s achievement is to work alongside the professionals, who share this ambition and are already achieving gains. Delivering a relevant and comprehensive professional development programme targeting Maori and Pacific Island students would make an even bigger difference,’ he said.


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