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Labelling students as failures “offensive” - NZEI Te Riu Roa

27 August 2012

Labelling students as failures “offensive” - NZEI Te Riu Roa

Education union NZEI Te Riu Roa agrees with the Minister of Education that labelling students as failures is offensive - but asks what part of calling a child “well below standard” would most people regard as “succeeding”.

On Friday, the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, told an NZEI principals’ conference that “this idea that students have to be labelled as failures is offensive to me… because no professional would be using that language if what they were aiming to do was raise achievement”.

NZEI President Ian Leckie says the Government’s National Standards label students as success or failures according to a one size fits all measurement of their reading, writing and maths achievement each year. The Government was also condoning the labelling of “winner and loser” schools by making school achievement data public, permitting the media to draw up league tables and developing its own website for schools’ data for 2013.

“There is no way the Government can duck the fact that for many parents and children, being assessed as “below standard” or “well below standard” National Standards reinforces a sense of failure and does nothing to boost their motivation for learning.

“The fact is, children do not learn in a linear step-by-step way and many of those children not meeting the standard for their age are capable of making the progress they need to, with quality teaching support, by the time they leave primary school.”

“In the same way, league tables of schools create competition between schools but there is no evidence internationally that they boost school effectiveness. On the contrary, New Zealand schools and their students do better than those in countries such as the UK where primary school league tables have been published for more than a decade.”

He says there is no support among the main sector groups in education for the publication of league tables, and little confidence that the more than $50 million spent on National Standards will boost achievement for children.


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