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Principals Applaud Academics’ Action

17 July 2012

Principals Applaud Academics’ Action

President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Paul Drummond today applauded New Zealand’s leading educational researchers for taking a public stand against league tables. The Prime Minister has suggested that parents want league tables so they can compare schools.

‘Parents have always compared schools so that they can choose the most suitable match for their children, which usually ends up being their neighbourhood school,’ said Drummond. ‘They access ERO reports, talk to principals and teachers and other parents and visit schools before enrolling their children,’ he said. ‘League tables will not help them because they will be based solely on immature national standards data in two subjects which cannot provide a picture of a whole school,’ he said.

New Zealand’s top academics have identified that league tables have the potential to cause harm to learners, teachers, schools and local communities. They also affirm that national standards are unsuitable for comparing schools because they do not take account of a school’s whole context.

‘We agree with the academics,’ said Drummond. ‘Our parents deserve the best and fairest information that we can give them on their children and on their school,’ he said. They want to know how their child is progressing at every level and in every subject area and they want to know about all the extra-curricular activities we offer too. We intend to give them that information. We do not support the creation of league tables made up of immature untrialled data in two subjects which the Prime Minister describes as ‘ropey’. Not only would that give an incomplete picture of a school, it would mislead the parents and we will not condone that,’ he said.

The Ministry of Education plans to aggregate the national standards data and publish a report later in the year. The Ministry agrees that the data is immature and unreliable but argues that if published with caveats would be better than if the media published the data in league tables.

‘Responsible journalists are not interested in publishing untruthful, skewed or unreliable information,’ said Drummond. ‘As principals we are well used to talking with media and in my experience journalists seek the truth,’ he said.

The Official Information Act, section 9, provides that a state organisation can release information only when the potential for harm has been identified, assessed and mitigated.

‘The Ministry has a legal and moral responsibility to protect our children, their schools and communities from the harm that league tables can bring as well as enhancing the reputation of our world class education system,’ said Drummond.

ENDS

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