PM backs school 'league tables'

JOHN KEY: "I've always had a view that somehow this information is going to be in the public domain."
JOHN KEY: "I've always had a view that somehow this information is going to be in the public domain."

Prime Minister John Key insists he is not picking another fight with teachers - and that parents want league tables.

He signalled his support for a form of league tables for primary and intermediate schools.  

Last week it emerged the Education Ministry was working on a report based on National Standards data received from schools last month. All schools were required to send in information about the performance of pupils against national standards in literacy and numeracy. It is due to be finished in September.

Key says the information could now be discovered under the Official Information Act and journalists will start to put together their own rankings.

But New Zealand Educational Institute president Ian Leckie has this morning warned it will be ''destructive'' to education to compile league tables from National Standards.

''Parents are desperate for this information,'' Key said this morning. ''If you look at Australia where they had the Schools Plus website..that website virtually crashed... there's that much appetite from parents to understand how their school and their child is going.''

He said it was ''critical information'' and if standards aren't be measured and reported on then they won't improve.

Parents are already using decile rankings as a way of assessing schools, he argued. ''It's the only piece of information they realistically have.''

He wants education minister Hekia Parata to sit down with teachers to work out how the data should be released.

''One way or another they are going to be adopted because that information is going to be available...I think the minister should have discussion with the sector and I think the sector should reflect on what is going to happen next.''

Unions argued that rankings of school performances was inevitable once the controversial national standards policy was introduced in 2010.

Yesterday schools called for a review after it emerged the number of Pakeha attending low-decile schools has halved in the past decade – but argued the funding should remain.

Mr Key said "some parents do conflate those things together but ... for the most part they are a reasonably accurate assessment of the capacity of that school to raise funds in that community. I just don't know an easy way around that."

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The Dominion Post