'Sack Auckland Grammar board'

AMANDA FISHER
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2011
PPTA president Kate Gainsford
ANDREW GORRIE/Dominion Post
PPTA president Kate Gainsford.

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Education Minister Anne Tolley has been urged to sack the board of Auckland Grammar School after its "brazen attack on the credibility of the NCEA".

In a leaked letter obtained by The Dominion Post, secondary teachers' union president Kate Gainsford accuses Mrs Tolley of a "timid" response and spells out five steps she should take now that Auckland Grammar has declared its intention to ditch NCEA in year 11, except for maths and English exams for weaker pupils.

Ms Gainsford, president of the Post-Primary Teachers' Association, tells Mrs Tolley in the letter that she should make a clear statement in support of NCEA, publicly criticise Auckland Grammar and order it to use NCEA, sack the board of trustees if it refuses to comply, make NCEA a legal requirement, and halt taxpayer funds for exam systems which compete with NCEA – such as the University of Cambridge system that Auckland Grammar prefers.

"Your refusal to be interviewed on the matter, and merely releasing a written statement that you have full confidence in the NCEA, was in our view a very timid response to a very direct attack," her letter states.

Wellington Girls' College principal and Secondary Principals' Council chairwoman Julia Davidson echoed calls for Mrs Tolley to take a stand. "A bit of leadership is exactly what we're looking for."

Auckland Grammar should not be entitled to tax dollars if it refused to implement the national curriculum for the majority of pupils, she said before suggesting that funding be tied to the number of pupils sitting NCEA.

"I just don't know why [Auckland Grammar] are doing this. It smacks of marketing or `we're better than everyone else'."

She described the Cambridge system as "colonial", and was upset that Auckland Grammar principal John Morris was undermining NCEA qualifications.

Other principals have endorsed NCEA, including those at three Wellington schools which offer Cambridge exams.

Samuel Marsden College principal Jenny Williams "fully supported NCEA", while St Patrick's Silverstream outgoing rector Phillip Mahoney, who has continually rejected the Cambridge system, said NCEA did work for male pupils – contradicting one of Mr Morris's reasons for ditching the system.

The Education Ministry clarified yesterday that schools were not legally required to offer NCEA, despite initially saying they were.

However, they were required to offer a "nationally and internationally recognised qualifications system", which the Cambridge system was not.

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But as long as Auckland Grammar offered some pupils some NCEA subjects, the question of taking action "doesn't arise", ministry spokesman Matt Radley said.

Mrs Tolley again refused to discuss the school's actions as well as criticisms of her lack of public comment.

- The Dominion Post

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