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Labour not serious about parent involvement

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman

18 September 2006

Labour not serious about parent involvement in education

If Labour was serious about increasing parental involvement in education it would ensure all parents were provided with clear information on how their children were progressing, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

He is commenting on Labour's re-announcement today of the Team-Up programme. Mr English says parents are the biggest influence in their children's lives, but they won't take much of an interest if it's too difficult to find out about their child and their child's school.

"The irony is that the Government is sitting on useful information regarding schools and students' performance, but its policy is to keep it from parents and the community.

"The first thing Labour could do to increase parental involvement would be to open up the School Smart website."

The School Smart website is run by the Ministry of Education, which collects and compares up to 20 indicators from schools, including numbers of suspensions, operating deficits, roll decline and student achievement.

Mr English says if parents had this information they could make better-informed choices for their children.

"Another positive step would be to simplify school reports.

''Parents have the right to know if their child is reading, writing and using numbers at the expected standard, or if they are falling behind. Some schools do a very good job of this, but too many still serve up vague, positive comments that give parents no clear idea of their child's progress.

"Schools already use a range of testing regimes to assess student performance, but many parents don't see the results of any of that testing until their child sits NCEA, by which time it may be too late. "Tana Umaga is an excellent choice as an education ambassador and, supported by the right information, he could encourage more parents to take an active interest in the education of their children," says Mr English.


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