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English becomes mouthpiece of anti-NCEA lobby

10 March 2005

Mr English becomes mouthpiece of anti-NCEA lobby only contributing fear and alarm

National education spokesman Bill English has become the mouthpiece of the anti-NCEA lobby by trying to blow out of proportion the constructive criticisms of teachers, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says he welcomes the highlighting of issues by the teaching profession and is disappointed that the National Party has decided cheap politics is more important than student welfare.

"Anyone who has taken time to read this report would have found that 80 per cent of the teaching profession have backed the NCEA system," said Mr Benson-Pope. "What the report highlights is a dedicated teaching profession engaging in the system for the benefit of students.

"They make it clear that there are areas that need improvement. We've got a number of reviews looking at those issues and I am also actively engaged with secondary school leaders about these issues. These are progressing expeditiously.

"What Mr English tries to do is debase and devalue the work of thousands of teachers and the qualifications of a much larger body of students. It is shame that he has chosen to become a mouthpiece for the anti-NCEA lobby, which highlights how out of step with teachers, principals, students and parents Mr English has become."

Mr Benson-Pope says it also shows how out of step Mr English is with prominent educationalists in his own party. National candidate and Rangitoto College principal Allan Peachey writes about those trying to tear down NCEA in the following way: "A number of my colleagues have sought to keep norm-referencing alive… While I understand their motives. I believe history will judge them to have failed a critical test of leadership, to the long-term disadvantage of students."

Mr Benson-Pope says throwing stones at the NCEA is the luxury Mr English has from the opposition benches: "The introduction of NCEA has been a major and complex change – and it is easy to resort to simplistic criticisms. I am interested in informed contributions to this important debate and how we go about making changes that will improve the system for students. Sadly, we never get any of these from Mr English.

ENDS

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