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PM’s Presser: National Standards half a day’s work

PM’s Presser – National Standards “half a day’s work”

Education experts hired to help teachers meet the National Standards programme will have to juggle as many as 40 schools each – but the Government says they won’t be overstretched.

The Government on Monday ordered the Ministry of Education to create 50 new positions around the country for “expert practitioners” to work directly with schools whose students do not achieve the Government’s new national standards for literacy and numeracy.

The policy arrived alongside a new $36m fund for remedial programmes and professional development – but the experts’ price tag of $10-12m a year would come out of the Ministry’s existing budget, prompting fears of further layoffs of civil servants.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said the new experts’ job would be to meet with local schools, analyse their student data and create tailored professional development programmes for the schools’ teachers.

The plan would provide “on-the-ground, direct help with teachers in their classroom” and was in line with the Government’s policy of more frontline services and less bureaucracy.

“We want to focus it less on administering the system and much more on giving direct support to schools to help them lift achievement,” she said.

But with over 2000 primary schools in New Zealand, the experts would have to work with up to 40 separate schools a month – half a day’s work per school.

Tolley confirmed the figure, adding a greater concentration of experts might be needed in remote rural areas.

But the ministry felt it would be a reasonable workload, she said.

“They’ll be working with a range of schools, many of whom we know are well ahead with the implementation of the national standards and curriculum.

“We’re starting small and we’re starting very focused - if we need more we’ll have to find them because our students deserve nothing less,” she said.

Tolley could not say whether extra experts would mean extra funding.

But Prime Minister John Key was emphatic: half a day was “quite a long time if you’re going to work with someone on a programme.”

“They’re not delivering the services; they’re just lining them up with a provider who might do that.

“They’re not the person sitting down with a child,” he said.

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