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Educators Welcome Select Committee Inquiry


Speaking on behalf of the Education Forum, John Morris, Headmaster of Auckland Grammar School, today welcomed the decision of the Education and Science Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the teaching of reading.

However, Mr Morris challenged the Committee to go further and to recommend refocusing primary education on the basics, including reading, and the introduction of objective external assessment.

"Government briefing papers recently revealed that one quarter of adults, and three quarters of unemployed, had substandard reading and writing skills. There is strong anecdotal evidence that significant numbers of students are completing a full secondary education without achieving a satisfactory level of literacy and even universities are increasingly offering what can only be described as remedial writing courses to under-graduates.

"Recent debate over the declining popularity of English as a subject amongst senior students has missed the point. The real concern is that too many students in all subjects had not been adequately taught basic English skills at earlier stages of their education. Remedial English at senior school levels, or at university, cannot substitute for good English instruction at the primary level.

"I challenge the Committee to examine the present primary curriculum. Reading and writing skills, along with maths, should be key elements. Also essential is objective assessment at this level. Without testing against national standards, parents and teachers can never know how well students are learning to read and write."


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