Compulsory early education 'necessary'
Early-childhood education should be compulsory to lift the ability of children before they start school, especially if league tables are released, a Christchurch principal says.
Prime Minister John Key has signalled his support for league tables for primary and intermediate schools based on national standard data for literacy and numeracy, attracting widespread criticism.
Linwood North School principal Sandra Smith said many low-decile schools were teaching new entrants with much lower abilities than those at other schools.
"We are getting children who are not able to speak clearly, have not seen a book, cannot hold a pencil and cannot recognise their name."
She said the teacher might make excellent progress with those children, but if they did not reach the national standard the school would be viewed as low-achieving in a league table.
If the Government was intent on releasing league tables it needed to make preschool compulsory at least 18 months before a child was due to start school to ensure they were better equipped, she said.
Christchurch school principals are vehemently opposed to league tables, with many saying they were not a fair or ethical comparison because children were assessed differently across the country.
Heaton Normal Intermediate School principal Andrea Knight said Heaton was a high-decile school with a lot of able children and would probably look good on a league table.
She believed league tables were a backwards step because they would increase competitiveness among schools and would damage existing co-operation.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said the Government had no plans to make early education compulsory, but it aimed to have 98 per cent of all new school entrants participating in early-childhood education in the next five years.
- © Fairfax NZ News