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More choice and flexibility the way to help under-achievers

More school choice and flexibility the way to help our under-achievers

The large number of under-achieving kiwi students highlighted by the OECD this week shows the need for more flexibility and choice for parents to get students into schools and styles of learning that best suit their needs, says the Education Forum.

Chairman Byron Bentley said parents needed the right to be able to more freely choose their children's school, so under-achieving students could go where their learning styles were best accommodated.

"If zoning was abolished, for example, low-income families would be able to move their children to schools that suited them better instead of being stuck in areas where they may not have access to educational diversity. But more than no zoning, what is really needed is a neutral funding system where the funding follows the child. This would truly allow parents to enrol their children at the school of their choice."

The early childhood and tertiary education sectors had more neutral funding and their successes were evident. They had more diversity and students had better access to quality education.

Mr Bentley said more autonomy for schools would also go a long way to helping improve academic results for low achievers.

"Give schools more autonomy and make them accountable for their results and there is no doubt we'd see results improve."

The OECD's PISA survey released yesterday compared the performance of 475,000 15-year-olds from 65 countries in reading literacy, maths and science. New Zealand's top students were shown to be doing very well but there was a disproportionately long tail of under-achievers.

ENDS

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