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National launches schools policy

National launches schools policy

National Party Education spokesman Bill English says National wants a simplified, plain English curriculum for schools.

Mr English launched the party’s schools policy at a meeting of the Auckland Primary Principals Association this morning.

“When it comes to education ‘less is more’. Great teaching isn’t about once-over lightly. Great teachers teach less and do it better,” says Mr English.

“The current curriculum is too long-winded and complicated. For instance it lists 57 ‘essential skills’ that students should have. National wants a plain language curriculum so everyone can understand what schools are trying to teach. Just how they teach it is up to the professionals – the teachers in the classroom.

“We want a smaller, clearer curriculum. This will take the pressure off schools which feel compelled to be everything to everyone. Teachers need to be able to teach less and do a better job of it so students can learn.”

The policy also includes a “comprehensive package of measures designed to improve the performance of schools, including a major shift of decision-making away from centralised bureaucracy and back to schools and communities.

“We must empower good schools, good principals and good teachers to use their professional skills to provide our children with an outstanding education.”

Mr English also announced measures to increase parental choice by removing rigid zoning restrictions, removing the cap on integrated school rolls and easing the squeeze on independent schools.

The policy also includes:

- A fundamental overhaul of the NCEA and reintroduction of demanding scholarship exams where students are ranked and given meaningful grades.

- Providing parents with better information.

- Cutting back assessment so there is more time for teachers to teach and students to learn.

- The introduction of national literacy and numeracy standards where schools will be held accountable for ensuring their pupils reach them.

- Reading and maths vouchers provided to the parents of children who do not meet national standards by the age of seven. This will allow parents to ensure their children catch up.

- Slashed education bureaucracy through the decentralisation of school management. The savings will be used to attract and retain outstanding teachers.

- State schools being allowed to convert to ‘Trust Schools’ with more independence from bureaucratic oversight.

- Support for the expansion of integrated schools where there is demand.

- Increased parental choice through the ending of rigid zoning restrictions.

The full policy can be viewed at http://www.national.org.nz


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