Parata seeks league table agreement

DANYA LEVY AND KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 11:42 19/06/2012
HEKIA PARATA
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
HEKIA PARATA: "There is a fundamental interest by parents across the country in how well their children are doing at school."
JOHN KEY
GRAHAME COX
JOHN KEY: "I've always had a view that somehow this information is going to be in the public domain."
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Education Minister Hekia Parata says she doesn't want to buy another fight with teachers over the introduction of league tables.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday signalled his support for league tables for primary and intermediate schools, which teacher unions have argued were inevitable after the Government's controversial national standards were introduced in 2010.

Last week it emerged the Education Ministry was working on a report based on literacy and numeracy data, which is due out in September.

Parata wanted to work with the sector to define what would be "meaningful and useful" information.

Earlier this month the minister was forced into a humiliating back down over Government plans to increase school class sizes after threats of teacher strikes.

However today she said she believed the sector, parents and the Government, could "all unite" over league tables in the interest of children's education.

"There is a fundamental interest by parents across the country in how well their children are doing at school."

The prime minister and the Government had made it clear they wanted literacy and numeracy raised.

"That has meant from the outside we have to be using data in a more meaningful way."

League tables would ensure schools were accountable for growing children's learning, she said.

Education Review Office (ERO) reports provided excellent information for parents but the office could only review so many schools a year.

Concerns about league tables not having "any texture" could be addressed by also including data from ERO reports, NCEA and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results, Parata said.

Labour leader David Shearer said national standards were impossible to compare because schools provided different information.

"I think league tables is the wrong way to go. It's about trying to improve child's education and their learning, and league tables don't do that."

League tables were an attempt to distract from other issues, such as the Government's u-turn on class sizes, he said.

"I send my kids to a local school. I want my school to be the best possible school there is for my child."

Parents shouldn't have to send their children across town, or to a private school to get a good education.

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"It is up to the Government to make sure that every school is performing up to standard."

Key yesterday said national standards information could now be revealed under the Official Information Act and media could put together their own rankings.

"I've always had a view that somehow this information is going to be in the public domain. The question is what form is it going to take and what's it going to look like. What I don't want to see is schools actually damaged by the information being presented in the wrong way."

The ministry has turned down requests to release the information from more than 2000 schools because it is working on its own report.

Last week  Ian Leckie, the president of the primary teachers union, the Educational Institute, warned the data was "very narrow, unreliable and flawed".

- Fairfax Media

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