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National education policy a trip back in time

National education policy a trip back in time

National Party leader Don Brash wants to take education back a decade in time by imposing a free market mantra on our schools, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

"They want to go back to bulk funding; they want to introduce education vouchers; and they are talking about big schools being allowed to raise loans and gobble up little schools – the bank manager in Dr Brash seems to have won the day," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"The Labour-led Government has spent the last five years rebuilding the state school system after National's decade of neglect and failed policies."

Mr Benson-Pope questions how widely Dr Brash has consulted with the education sector, as most commentators would agree that bulk funding, which was tried in the 1990s, failed our students.

"Teachers reported that bulk funding led schools into an increasingly destructive competitive model, where money was spent of expensive facades and frills that did not benefit student's education," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Over time many of our best and most experienced teachers were replaced by less experienced and cheaper teachers.

"The quality of our teaching profession is the most important factor in improving the achievement of our students. That is why the Labour-led government has invested so much in lifting teacher numbers and in improving the quality of teaching."

Mr Benson-Pope says he is concerned about a call for national testing for seven year olds, as international experience shows this is a failure too.

"Despite evidence of the damage caused by national testing of primary children in England, the National Party seems determined to introduce it in New Zealand schools," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"I am disappointed that Dr Brash has chosen to be so negative and failed to acknowledge any of the wonderful things happening in our schools today. That too is quite a backward step."

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