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Government steps up National Standards bullying

22 June 2011
For Immediate Release

Government steps up National Standards bullying

The government is stepping up its bullying of schools as it tries to force them to comply with National Standards, says the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Many schools have received a letter from the Ministry of Education invoking legislation demanding that school charters be lodged by 5pm on July 1. The charters must contain achievement targets based on National Standards.

It’s the first time the government has invoked provisions of the Education Act to set a legal deadline for receiving charters. Previously schools have been able to submit their charters anytime before the end of the school year.

Hundreds of schools have made a decision to stick with their normal practice of setting their student achievement targets against robust and trusted assessment data, rather than on untested and unreliable National Standards.

NZEI President Ian Leckie says “most of these schools have tried to work with the Standards but have come to the conclusion that they do not give a consistent or accurate picture of a child’s progress or achievement. They also know that sorting children into “above, at below and well below” standard will do nothing to identify those children in need of extra help.”

“The issue of underachievement is a complex one and schools don’t want to implement a one-size fits all approach which won’t work,” he says.

It is also increasingly clear that the Ministry of Education’s 50 new Student Achievement Practitioners, who were supposed to improve support for schools to lift student literacy and numeracy, are nothing more than National Standards “enforcers” – going around specific schools putting pressure on principals and boards to comply.

“The fact so many schools are not setting their achievement targets against National Standards should come as no surprise. They should not be bullied into pursuing unsound educational policy which they have no confidence in,” says Mr Leckie.

He adds “it is disappointing to see the government’s obsession with National Standards undermining good strategic practice and planning by schools, healthy relationships with the Ministry of Education and what actually works to boost student achievement.”


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