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NZ a top education performer but policy counterproductive

20th February 2012
For Immediate Release

New Zealand a top education performer but government policy counterproductive

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the latest OECD education report shows New Zealand has a top performing education system but warns government policies could be counter-productive to that success.

The ‘Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA’ report looks at the relationship between expenditure in education and results in PISA, across dozens of countries. It singles out New Zealand by saying it is a top performer despite spending less than average per student.

NZEI President Ian Leckie says it is good to see the government welcoming this report and finally acknowledging New Zealand as a top performing system.

“But New Zealand teachers are always ambitious to do better, and with more resources we could lead the world. This report shouldn’t be seen an excuse to stop making further investment in education or to justify cuts or money-saving measures, he says.

“We should step up investment in the areas that we know return the best investment - in early childhood education, where research shows there is a $17 return on every $1 spent, supporting quality teaching and keeping class sizes, especially for new entrants, as low as we can so that teachers can provide the individual feedback to children that is important for learning.

This report should not be used as an opportunity to adopt Treasury’s misguided advice about increasing class size in order to free up money in education or for further experiments with charter schools and league tables”.

The report stresses that top-performing countries in PISA do not group students in terms of ability or separate out poor performers.

“Unfortunately that is the road National Standards and charter schools risk taking us down,” says Mr Leckie.

“They encourage the labeling of children and can lead to segregated learning environments both in the classroom and within the wider community. None of that equates to improved student achievement or teacher quality”.

NZEI says it is also significant that the OECD report strongly links high performing countries with greater investment in teachers and giving them greater professional status.


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