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Govt. Response To Select Committee Reading Report

13 November 2001 Media Statement

Government response to Select Committee reading Report

The Education and Science Select Committee’s report on the Teaching of Reading in New Zealand amounted to an affirmation of the Government’s current literacy and numeracy strategy, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

In its report, the Select Committee made 51 recommendations across five areas: effective teaching practice, teacher education, resources, Mäori-medium education and national issues.

“The Government supports the views that are behind the select committee report and its recommendations,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Our response to the recommendation is divided into three categories.

“We have identified 10 recommendations which will be considered as we develop future work programmes.

“Nine of the recommendations, regarding teacher education will be referred to the Teachers’ Council of New Zealand. The council was established through a law that was passed by Parliament last month. I see it a major vehicle to improve the quality of teacher education and it would be wrong for the Government to pre-empt any decisions the council might make in this area.

“The Government believes the other recommendations are already embedded in Government policy and the results are flowing through.

“For example, the Select Committee echoes the aspirations and concerns of the Government in regard to on the effective teaching of literacy.

“This is reflected in the National Education Monitoring Project’s recent report Reading and Speaking Assessment Result 2000, which contains convincing evidence that the achievement of students in reading is on the rise.

“It was also illustrated last week with a report about ongoing professional development work in Otara and Mangere which has had stunning results in lifting reading and writing skills in that community.

“Other programmes to lift teacher capability is Literacy Leadership Programme which more than 2,000 primary school principals and other professional leaders in schools have participated in. Improvements in literacy have been noticed as a result of this.

“These are just a few examples of some of the incredibly exciting work that is going on to improve literacy in schools. The select committee report highlighted how passionate New Zealanders are about standards of reading and writing in schools. It is a useful report that I am sure will continue to be a reference point for the further development of literacy policies and programmes.

“In the meantime, I encourage all New Zealanders to investigate some of the wonderful work that is going on in this area,” Trevor Mallard said.

Trevor Mallard said the issue of phonics versus whole language learning was not a feature of the report.

“The Act member of the committee has a personal interest in this area and used the report to push her views. The response to coverage of that aspect of the report showed that schools throughout New Zealand have already started using a mixture of learning strategies including phonics. We will continue to support schools ability to make the kind of teaching decisions that suit the needs of their students. I don’t believe the government is in the best position to decide which styles suit children from different communities,” Trevor Mallard said.


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