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Excellence in Teaching Awards

Hon Trevor Mallard
11 June 2002 Speech Notes

Excellence in Teaching Awards

Today’s awards recognise and honour 20 heroes from the teaching profession.

They are awards held in high esteem by schools across the country and valued by the teachers who receive them.

They are awards that play an important role in raising the profile of the dedicated teachers who motivate and inspire our children.

It is significant that the teachers we celebrate today are nominated by students or their parents.

Increasingly the research is saying that the quality of teaching in the classroom makes the biggest difference to the life of a student.

We know that by international terms, New Zealand’s three-quarters of a million school students get heaps of support from their teachers.

And we continue to make solid progress on the teaching front. The 2000 National Education Monitoring Project assessment of Reading and Speaking showed big improvements in literacy, particularly at Year 4.

In reading comprehension, one in ten more students succeeded in 2000 than in 1996. Such improvements show that we have a lot to be pleased about.

By the end of schooling our students are achieving significantly above the international mean in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

To support teachers in their efforts, we are putting energy – and a fistful of dollars - into education policies that will ensure we get the basics right.

In particular, we need to keep improving the reading, writing and numeracy of our young people.

The focus on literacy is extending throughout primary and into secondary. The recent Budget extended the funding for literacy to support high quality literacy teaching in secondary schools.

Our secondary literacy programme is focussed on language across the curriculum and highlights the fact that all teachers are teachers of literacy.

These are good times for numeracy. I was delighted to see newspapers recently highlighting the success of the Early Numeracy Project.

The project, which, during 2002 involves some 5700 teachers and 140,000 primary school students – is proving a success beyond our wildest dreams.

The best news is that the kids who most needed to improve their maths posted the greatest gains. All kids showed improvements, regardless of where they live, their ethnicity or the decile of their school.

ICT has a big role to play in helping us improve New Zealand education. It is already bringing better learning, more effective administration, and stronger partnerships between communities and schools.

Teachers are rising to the digital challenge and we are supporting them. The ICT cluster programme is now the main way of providing long-term professional development in ICT to teachers.

This encourages best practice in ICT. That in turn supports student learning. Our aim here is to help schools become capable of independently maintaining their use of ICT.

The recent Budget announced funding of $9m over four financial years to establish 20 additional professional development clusters in 2003. This funding expands the current programme.

Meanwhile we are pumping an extra $2.8m into Te Kete Ipurangi - the Ministry’s main portal for teachers to access educational resources online. TKI supports the NZ curriculum and professional development for teachers and the new funding will support this.

To help ensure our teachers can keep excelling, we need to set high expectations, providing resources and professional development in key areas like numeracy, literacy and ICT.

I am honoured to be among such wonderful teachers. It gives me much pleasure to recognise the excellent teachers that are here today through the National Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2002.


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