Don't jump to conclusions on standards - principal

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012

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Ask Gleniti School principal Steve Zonnevylle his views on national standards and it's clear the subject troubles him.

"It's just all too vague," he told The Timaru Herald yesterday.

The first snippets of data were drip-fed to the public by Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday. "Potentially it could be a useful tool," Mr Zonnevylle said.

"I think any information about how our children are doing is always going to be useful.

"But comparing it with other schools - not so useful."

He said schools had always had robust reporting systems in place, including Education Review Office reports.

"There's always plenty of opportunity for schools to be had up if they weren't reporting well."

Schools were constantly reviewing their programmes to align with the students' needs, he said.

He feared that with the national standards data published, people would "jump to conclusions" without knowing the whole story.

"It just comes down to how well the community understands the process, and you are going to have people who really understand it while others will look at the numbers and they will think, ‘That's just poor'."

The information was relevant only to each individual school.

"So the process of comparing schools with schools is a moot point indeed. Who knows if parents and the wider community understand this yet?

"The processes that each individual school has gone through to make their judgments against the national standards is different in every case. There is no uniformity of this process, and there has been no uniformity over the professional development available to schools to make these judgments.

"Therefore the information in a league table situation has no value at all."

He saw primary schools as more than places for learning numeracy, writing and reading, he said.

"Primary schools are where children learn to learn, where they learn to be social beings, where they learn to care, where they get excited about the world around them and the challenges and opportunities that come their way.

"National standards league tables don't reflect this in any way."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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