Standards don't drive success
Case study: Murray's Bay IntermediateKELSEY FLETCHER
In our Schools
Teachers at decile 10 school Murray's Bay Intermediate say they are taking every opportunity provided to give their children the skills to be globally confident and competent in an increasingly evolving world.
But principal Colin Dale says National Standards are not driving the school's success.
Murray's Bay, on Auckland's North Shore, encourages children to become successful young people with a curriculum based on 21st century learning. That includes subjects on pure science, financial literacy, enviro science and even metacognition - learning how to learn.
The school received $3,924,278 in 2010, which has been concentrated on creating its motivating programme.
Dale says the school has improved achievement radically by concentrating its funding on how children should learn best.
''The children run to school, they want to be here and they're happy, because if they're not happy and they are not engaged then learning is going to be compromised,'' Dale says.
''The invitation ideology is the feature of the school, you're allowed your cell-phones here, you can use them as a calculator, you use them as a camera to download and put them into your educational outcomes. Children want to be here because we make it child-centred.''
Murray's Bay Intermediate reported 87.5 per cent of students at or above the National Standard in mathematics, and 11.5 per cent below, in 2010.
But the Government's move to publicise ''ropey'' National Standards data has Dale concerned that public perceptions will become skewed.
Dale says National Standards are not sound and come from a ''profoundly ignorant base and principle''.
Because of that, publishing any data will compromise perceptions of a school and any work going on in the background.
''We have 93 per cent of students on average meeting or above the National Standard, but of the 7 per cent that are below, many would be those who come from overseas and have no language and still have to be included in the data,'' he says.
''When we put our figures out in a league table or whatever happens, where is it going to be understood that 7 per cent are going to be overseas students who have been in the school for less than a year and don't speak or have limited English?''
Dale says although there might not be any significant impact on Murray's Bay Intermediate, low decile schools that work hard to raise achievement would be hit hard.
''If you are a person in that community and you look at their data and find 30 per cent are achieving above the National Standard and the rest are not or at, would you not choose to travel to a school that is in a totally different situation, because I think I would,'' he said.
''And yet that school probably is doing as well as a school like ours with a decile 10 population.
''In many cases they will have better specialised programmes to cope with the problems that are inherent to any child's learning because they have a need for it.
''What upsets me is that people who can't afford to travel will be linked to their so called perceived poor school and therefore will feel bad about themselves.''
- © Fairfax NZ News