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Minister to face schools' rebellion

BY GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 10:02 02/07/2010
STANDARDS BACKED: Anne Tolley has dismissed opposition to the standards and claimed some teachers were trying to
MAARTEN HOLL/The Dominion Post
STANDARDS BACKED: Anne Tolley has dismissed opposition to the standards and claimed some teachers were trying to "manufacture a crisis which doesn't exist".

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Education Minister Anne Tolley may face a revolt when she fronts up to 550 school principals in Queenstown today.

The New Zealand Principals Federation yesterday voted overwhelmingly to oppose national standards imposed by the Government to assess year 1 to 8 pupils from the beginning of this year.

The Auckland and Southland Primary Principals Associations have already come out slamming the standards as "irreconcilably flawed, confused and unworkable".

Yesterday they were supported by their colleagues nationwide who voted to oppose the standards in three remits at their annual meeting.

The first stated the federation had determined national standards were not delivering the outcomes they intended, and the federation would advise the minister accordingly.

The second remit was that the only way forward was to seek a complete revision of national standards in partnership with the sector and the minister and that this process should be actioned with urgency.

The third remit was a decision to advise the minister that it supported the regional associations of Southland and Auckland, which recommended principals withdraw attendance at national standards training.

An embargo was imposed on the principals, preventing them from talking about the remits until today.

However Mrs Tolley said principals with concerns over the national standards should contact the Education Ministry or her, rather than issue media statements.

"Get involved, be professional and add your professional expertise into making sure we get these standards right," she said.

No school has officially contacted the Education Ministry to say they would boycott the standards.

"We're getting really positive feedback from parents right around the country, they're actually the silent majority in all of this."

Parents want information on their children, Mrs Tolley said.

She said she would remind the principals today that they are public servants and this was a government policy.

"If they have concerns they should bring them to me or to the ministry and there's plenty of opportunities for them to do that."

Mrs Tolley, who is expected to make a 15-minute appearance at the conference today, has earlier dismissed opposition to the standards and claimed some teachers were trying to "manufacture a crisis which doesn't exist".

Her statement followed a survey by primary teachers union NZEI, which found that 119 schools were refusing to implement the standards.

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The federation represents more than half of all primary and intermediate school principals.

WHY REVOLT?

The Auckland and Southland Primary Principals Associations identified four main issues with the standards:

They wrongly assume children are failing if they do not meet the standard for their age.

"Repeatedly labelling of many young children as failures" can potentially harm learning and motivation.

Damage to the reputation of New Zealand students and "our world-class education system" if performance of children against the "standards" is reported publicly.

Inconsistent and unreliable information as a result of the "limited nature" of descriptions and standards without effective moderation.

- with NZPA

- The Southland Times

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