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Govt out of touch w what parents want in education

MEDIA RELEASE

Government out of touch with what parents want in education

A new report released today shows that the government is out of touch with what parents want to see in schooling:
• 79% of parents believe schools should be free to offer alternative examinations to the NCEA, but instead schools face many barriers to doing this; and
• Less than one third of parents (30%) think the Ministry should decide what their child learns in school, but only a tiny proportion of parents can afford to send their children to private schools where the Ministry doesn’t dictate the curriculum; and
• 76% of parents think that schools should be permitted to specialise in particular subject areas or sport, but the Ministry of Education does not support or encourage specialisation in New Zealand schools; and
• 84% of parents believe that schools should be allowed to teach their community’s values; but instead almost all schools are required to reflect values prescribed by the Ministry of Education.

The report by Maxim Institute, The Parent Factor: Freedom for Schools, is the first in a series presenting the results of independent quantitative research carried out by Colmar Brunton in 2004, involving one thousand parents from throughout New Zealand.

The report examines how other countries are implementing the wishes of parents in these areas and finds that what parents want is both sensible and workable. The report concludes with several policy recommendations that would help bring the current education system into line with what parents want.

Maxim Institute Policy Manager, Nicki Taylor, says the findings confirm that the Ministry of Education must re-consider the centralised control of schools that now exists.

“Parents recognise that it is local schools and communities, not bureaucrats in Wellington, who are in the best position to know what is going to be best for their children. Parents would like to see schools trusted to make the important decisions that impact their children daily,” says Mrs Taylor.

Currently, only a very limited number of schools have the freedom to make these choices, and only a tiny portion of parents are able to choose the kind of schooling their children receive.

Parents also recognise that New Zealand children are diverse and learn differently, and therefore may require different examination systems, curricula and specialisations.

“The Ministry of Education does not recognise this diversity and continues to impose one set of values, one examination system (the NCEA) and one curriculum for all pupils”, says Nicki Taylor.

Maxim Institute commissioned Colmar Brunton to undertake the quantitative research in 2004. 1001 parents were interviewed. The data was weighted to census targets for location and ethnicity. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level.

Attached is a summary sheet of the findings from The Parent Factor: Freedom for Schools. Maxim Institute can provide a breakdown of data by region, sex, ethnicity and other variables upon request.

The full report and a summary of the report are available on request or from Maxim’s website from Monday on www.maxim.org.nz/parentfactor.

ENDS

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