Schools protest national standards

Last updated 19:07 01/07/2011

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More than 100 defiant schools today submitted school charters without the required references to the new national standards.

The primary teachers union NZEI said about 350 schools around the country were involved in the protest against the ''hastily-developed, untested and potentially harmful'' standards.

A spokesman for Education Minister Anne Tolley said about 140 charters were handed in by protesting schools.

The total number of charters handed in so far was 2112 - double the number received at the same time last year - and 351 were outstanding, the spokesman said.

The outstanding charters included those from Maori-medium schools and secondary schools which didn't have to include national standards.

The total number of schools is 2463.

When the schools announced their intention on Wednesday, Mrs Tolley said it was ''a silly political stunt'' and children would suffer for it.

''These schools are going to miss out on valuable resources for children who are struggling, and schools are going to have to answer to their communities,'' she said.

''We want to work with these schools, but if principals continue to disobey the law then statutory intervention is an option.''

NZEI president Ian Leckie said the protesting schools believed setting targets for student achievement using national standards would produce unreliable information and were sticking with the trusted and evidence-based assessment data they had always used.

He said hundreds of other schools were only nominally complying with the charter requirement.

''They are simply sprinkling the words 'National Standards' through their charters so they can be seen to be fulfilling their charter requirements, but it in no way signals their support for national standards nor any change in their actual practice,'' he said.

Mrs Tolley said on Wednesday the vast majority of schools were getting on with implementing national standards and had submitted legal charters with targets set against them.

She said the defiant schools would be better off addressing the ''shocking statistic'' that up to one in five children were leaving school without the reading, writing and maths skills they needed.

National standards are benchmarks in reading, writing and maths designed to clearly show the ability students have in those subjects so the ones that have fallen behind can be helped.

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- NZPA

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