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Mr English gets it wrong no.4

18 February, 2005

Mr English gets it wrong no.4

Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope says the National Party, as on so many issues to do with the New Zealand Scholarship, has got its facts completely wrong again.

Yesterday National Education spokesman Bill English claimed Mr Benson-Pope had known about variability to do with New Zealand Scholarship results on 25 January but kept quiet about it for two weeks.

However, Mr Benson-Pope says Mr English has his facts and timeline wrong. On 01 February Mr Benson-Pope issued a media statement headed: "Minister calls for a report into scholarship".

In it Mr Benson-Pope said he was aware that concerns were being raised by some school principals about the results achieved by students and that NZQA had also made him aware of trends in the interim results data.

In response to a Parliamentary question on this subject on 03 February, Mr Benson-Pope further acknowledged variability.

Hansard records for 03 February show Mr English asking: "Has the Minister seen any or all of the official interim results for National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) scholarship; if so, do the results he has seen confirm public rumours that there are very few scholarships in the sciences and substantial numbers of scholarships in other subjects—for instance, nine out of 1,000 biology students achieving scholarship, and 300 out of 900 English students achieving scholarship?"

To which Mr Benson-Pope replied: "Clearly I have seen some such information, but I have asked for a report and I believe the appropriate time to draw relevant conclusions is when I have received the report and considered it, not before then."

That report went to Cabinet on 07 February and formed the basis of a decision to create distinction certificates and awards to mitigate the impact on students of the variability in scholarship results.

Mr Benson-Pope says he is surprised that Mr English no longer recalls the exchange in Parliament of 03 February, especially as he reminded Mr English of it in Parliament yesterday.


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