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Mr English gets it wrong no.9, and no.10

Mr English gets it wrong no.9, and no.10

National Education spokesman Bill English has cast aspersions in Parliament on a respected state servant based on inaccurate information, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

No.9 Mr English today claimed in Parliament that educational expert Dr Alan Barker, who has been co-opted into a State Services Commission inquiry into school assessment, was employed by NZQA between 1992-1999. He claimed that this proved Dr Barker was an architect of NCEA.

In fact Dr Barker worked for NZQA from 1990-1997, as Mr English had acknowledged in a previous media release dated 02 March.

Mr Benson-Pope says today's inaccurate remark by Mr English appears to have been deliberate because the true employment record of Dr Barker shows he had left NZQA before the NCEA system was developed.

In fact, NCEA was developed by the Ministry of Education between 1998 and 2002. Cabinet did not direct the Ministry of Education to begin work developing NCEA until September 1998: "Not only does Mr English have his dates wrong but he even labelled the wrong organisation as the architect," said Mr Benson-Pope.

No.10 Mr English also claimed that there was an inconsistency between the State Services Commission inquiry, which had within its terms of reference the wider school assessment system, and a statement made by Mr Benson-Pope on 16 February, when he agreed it was the New Zealand Scholarship under the microscope.

Mr English is wrong. Indeed, on 16 February it was the New Zealand Scholarship that was the primary focus of the SSC inquiry.

It was 23 February that Mr Benson-Pope told a major daily paper of his intention to write to the SSC to confirm that issues of NCEA variability were also addressed by the SSC inquiry. While the Government decided that the scholarship results were unacceptable, with regard to variability in NCEA results the Government, quite properly, is seeking assurance that these are a result of valid educational reasons and not system failure.

This letter to the SSC was written on 25 February. A reply from the SSC was received shortly thereafter, confirming in writing that this question was covered by the terms of reference made public by the Government on 16 February.

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