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English's credibility gap widens

21 April 2005

English's credibility gap widens

"Once again Mr English has demonstrated he doesn't like to let the facts get in the way of a tall tale", says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope was responding to statements by Mr English earlier today where he misinterpreted a report on schools' use of Reading Recovery Programmes in 2003.

"Mr English ignored a number of key facts", says Mr Benson-Pope.

New Zealand students are highly ranked internationally in measures of literacy. For example we are 6th out of 41 developed countries in terms of reading literacy.

Reading Recovery programmes are just one of a range of literacy programmes used by schools.

67 per cent of schools implemented a Reading Recovery programme in 2003. The proportion of the six-year-olds in those schools – the target group - is 78 per cent.

The Reading Recovery programme is one of our oldest literacy programmes, and while many schools are enthusiastic about it, others prefer different approaches. Schools that do not offer reading recovery programmes offer a range of other interventions, including Resource Teachers of Literacy, Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour, and phonics programmes.

Many schools provide all teachers with literacy teaching skills through literacy professional development initiatives. Further support for literacy includes literacy and numeracy assessment tools like 'asTTle', literacy development officers, resources for teachers and students, materials for home-school partnerships, and 'Books in Homes'.

"Based on the recent statements by their leader, the National party's real agenda seems to be about using literacy as an excuse to rob schools of funding so their business mates can set up private 'schools' run by unqualified teachers.

"It beggars belief the extent to which National will bag the education sector, and the achievement of students, for political ends", says Mr Benson-Pope.

"It is the sort of behaviour that has earned Mr English the title of 'Spokesperson for Negativity and Disgruntlement' in a recent educational journal."

ENDS

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