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Nick Smith needs help – Mallard offers briefing

23 September 2003 Media Statement

Nick Smith needs help – Mallard offers briefing

National has regurgitated its tired old policy of privatising the education system and has suddenly decided that after destroying literacy achievement during nine years of government, literacy teaching should now be a top priority, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

“I’m quite frankly amazed that this thin and lightweight document has been described as new and innovative when it is so clearly tired and devoid of facts or new ideas. Zoning and privatisation. It’s an embarrassment,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Literacy suffered shockingly for years from a party that was more interested in the simplistic ideological approach of "let the market fix it”. They ignored what they were doing to our children as they paid absolutely no attention to literacy during nine years in government. I'm amazed that it’s only just dawned on Nick Smith that it should be a priority. It's been a priority for Labour for years.

"If it takes decades for National to come up with these so-called new ideas, it's no wonder they continue to fail at the polls.

“This government has invested heavily in literacy teaching and resources to fix what National did. In our first budget $24 million extra was injected into this area alone, and in the last budget another $15 million. In fact since Labour came to power, total education spending has increased by 20 per cent.

“National clearly does not have a clue about what is going on in education.

“Nick Smith obviously needs help and I’ll give him a briefing if he likes. There is already a programme delivering social workers into schools. He also has no idea about the existing Asttle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) that schools already have for testing literacy.

"The Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning are hugely successful and very popular amongst teachers. They allow teachers to test students, pinpoint their individual problems and target those gaps with their lessons. The Asttle tools also allow children's progress to be compared against national averages, and they give high quality information about how children are doing to teachers and parents alike.

“Teachers and schools are already voluntarily adopting this assessment system. In fact more than 90 per cent of schools actually requested the Asttle CD Rom. So National’s idea of compulsory testing is simply a waste of time and money,” Trevor Mallard said.

ENDS

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