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Principals Warn Change Must Slow Down

Principals are increasingly concerned about the pace of change being imposed on our education system, without critical consultation with the sector. First came cell phone bans, next one hour each of reading, writing and maths, then attendance, and now, we are being directed to implement a structured literacy approach.

"The abrupt shift in priorities and expectations is disruptive and undermines the ability of educators to provide quality teaching and support to our students," said Leanne Otene, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF)

"Principals, staff, and boards have invested significant effort in developing annual strategic plans and consulting their communities. Teaching and learning plans, along with ongoing professional development for this term are already set," she said.

"We welcome the injection of curriculum funding. We have advocated for more support, resources, and quality assured professional learning and development (PLD) for our teachers so they can effectively support student learning," she said.

"We also appreciate having another funded literacy option to consider," she said. "As self-managing schools, however, we know that a single option will not be effective in every context or for every student in our culturally diverse country. "

Structured literacy is one approach, as emphasized by the Minister of Education this morning on the AM show. She stated, ‘we cannot be purists about this.’ Structured literacy is not a silver bullet.

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Schools that have already implemented structured literacy since 2018 continue to utilize other approaches to foster a love of reading and address the individual needs of tamariki.

"That must continue if we want success," said Otene.

The Minister has intimated mandating the structured literacy approach for all schools.

"Mandating a single literacy approach for all schools would be a mistake and would not on its own get the increased achievement rates that we all strive for," said Otene.

"Meaningful collaboration and thoughtful planning are essential to fostering sustainable improvements in our education system," she said. "There is no short-term fix. To be successful, we need a carefully crafted, long-term, funded strategy, built in collaboration with the profession," she said.

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