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English's "campaign of whispers" must stop

Minister: English's "campaign of whispers" must stop

Bill English's campaign of whispers against the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) does nothing but denigrate the achievement of our students, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

Today Mr English claimed variability in some New Zealand Scholarship subjects was "spilling over" into NCEA levels 2 and 3. This suggestion has been roundly rubbished by Mr Benson-Pope, who says interim NCEA results to date show nothing that had not been expected.

"As Mr English well knows, the New Zealand Scholarship exams are entirely separate and not even part of the NCEA. Talk of a spill-over is nonsensical," says Mr Benson-Pope.

"Mr English appears to be leading a campaign of whispers against the NCEA. "This is a campaign based on gossip, innuendo and at best half-truths.

"Where students have succeeded he belittles their achievement, and where they haven't he attacks the system. The only thing Mr English can take credit for is the undermining of the confidence of our students in their success."

Mr Benson-Pope pointed to a statement Mr English released on 07 February as an example of the type of muckracking National's Education spokesman was using to attack a system that is working well at the end of just its first year of full implementation.

Mr English stated failure rates in Level 2 English had jumped from 30% in 2003 to 70% in 2004.

"It would have been very easy for Mr English to have checked his facts and found out that in fact 46% of students did not achieve level 2 English in 2003. His assumption that there was a change to 70% was also wildly inaccurate. In fact, the increase was just 13%, not 40%, as Mr English stated. Much of this 13% increase is likely to be explained by the indirect effects of tougher literacy requirements."

Mr Benson-Pope says Mr English is running a Jeremiah-like campaign against various stakeholders in the education community who have worked hard to implement NCEA over the last three years and make it work for our students.

"Teachers wanted the NCEA, employers demanded it, National decided to introduce it, and Labour is going to make it work," said Mr Benson-Pope.

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