Principals reject education policy

By APNZ, NZ Herald Staff

Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday revealed that National would introduce personality tests for new teachers and require schools to report National Standards results. Photo / Lynda Feringa
Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday revealed that National would introduce personality tests for new teachers and require schools to report National Standards results. Photo / Lynda Feringa

Principals are rejecting National's education policy as the "lowest point" of this year's general election campaign.

Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday revealed the policy, which would introduce personality tests for new teachers and require schools to report National Standards results.

New Zealand Principals' Federation president Peter Simpson said the continued roll out of National Standards showed the Government was not listening to teachers.

He said the policy, which requires regular assessments of reading, writing and maths, treated students as a "standardised" product.

"It's no wonder they've left it till last. National's education policy, released yesterday, will go down as the lowest point in this year's election campaign.

"What is disappointing about National's education policy is that it is applying a model of accountability that best suits a factory production line producing same sized widgets which have just three characteristics."

Mr Simpson said principals were not rejecting the policy because they were afraid of being accountable for their performance.

Teachers were already subject to reviews from the Education Review Office and the Teachers Council, he said.

"Children do not arrive at school as uniform vessels with three empty spaces labelled reading writing and maths which teachers are employed to fill up for them in some standardised way. The accountability model which emanates from the National party policy assumes however that they do."

Prime Minister John Key said National's decision to release its education policy late in its election campaign was to highlight its importance.

He remained unrepentant about requiring schools to report on National Standards, saying parents had to know how their child and the school as a whole was doing.

He said although it was possible the material could be collected to form a "league table" of schools, it would not be simple because the information was not easily comparable.

National also set a target of getting 98 per cent of children into early childhood education by 2015 - about 3500 more.

Proposals

Schools

* Require secondary schools to report on wider performance, including school dropout numbers.

* Bed in National Standards, schools to report results publicly from 2012.

* Introduce "disposition testing" for new teachers.

* Make teacher training courses a post-graduate qualification.

* Review the Teachers' Council.

* Change law to allow search and seizure of suspected drugs and weapons.

* More training for new principals.

* Spend $1 billion from state asset sales on new schools and buildings.

* Target funding at schools and teachers underperforming in National Standards.

* Review regulations for rural school swimming pools.

Early Childhood Education

* Retain 20 hours free and fee controls.

* Boost participation to 98 per cent by 2015 (about 3500 children), targeting Maori and Pacific Island families.

* Raise qualified-teacher total from 67 per cent to 80 by end of next year.

* Require centres to put performance information on a website.

- APNZ

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