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'Independent expert' was NCEA architect

Hon Bill English - National Party Education Spokesman

3 March 2005

'Independent expert' was NCEA architect

Labour has named one of the architects of the NCEA as the independent expert brought in to review dodgy NCEA exam results, says National's Education spokesman Bill English.

Under questioning yesterday in Parliament, Trevor Mallard revealed that Alan Barker has been hired to provide expert advice to the inquiry into the NCEA.

"I am shocked to find that Mr Barker was the NZQA's general manager of policy and planning from 1990 to 1997. He played a key role in developing NCEA so he has a personal stake in defending it."

Before going to NZQA he was an adviser to the former Labour Government's Education Minister between 1985 and 1990.

After he left NZQA he spent two years as a senior official in the State Services Commission, the body directed by Labour to conduct the review

After weeks of stonewalling, Labour has backed down and admitted that last year's NCEA results may not be acceptable or appropriate. David Benson-Pope has written to the State Services Commission, asking them to widen their inquiry into scholarship results to include levels 1, 2 and 3 of the NCEA.

Mr English says it is bad enough that even the Government doubts the quality of its own qualifications system, but it's an insult to students, teachers and parents to appoint an insider to fix it.

"Mr Barker has the ideal CV for a snow job - he was an architect of the NCEA, he knows the ins and outs of the civil service, and he will be sympathetic towards Labour's political needs.

"Teachers, students and parents will be disgusted that their serious concerns about the NCEA are still not being taken seriously by the Labour Government," says Mr English.

ENDS

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