Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Parata keen to avoid another fight with teachers

Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she does not want to buy a fight with the teachers' union over league tables for primary and intermediate schools and that agreement could be reached.

"I'm not looking to buy a fight with anyone," she said. "I think we can all unite in the interests of what's good for our learners."

The Ministry of Education received information in May from schools on National Standards, which is due to be released in some public form in September.

"We are compiling useful information that is meaningful for the learner, for the school and for the parents," she said.

Ms Parata and the Government bought a fight with the teacher unions over increased class sizes and lost when it ditched the policy two weeks after the Budget.

Prime Minister John Key opened up debate about league tables on Monday, when he expressed support for them, in response to questions at his post-cabinet press conference.

He thought showing a school's progress on National Standards was a better indication of its performance than using a decile status as a proxy for performance.

Mr Key said yesterday that the reason parents were using deciles "as a de facto form of assessment" of schools was because it was the only piece of information they had.

Asked if National Standards information was reliable enough to be the basis of comparison of schools, he said everybody accepted that the information would settle down over time, just as it did with NCEA.

There were some moderation concerns about whether one school was assessing achievement the same as the school down the road or even concerns within schools.

How the information was to be presented was something for the Ministry of Education to work out with the education sector.

NZEI teachers' union president Ian Leckie said league tables would have a severely damaging effect on children's education and would unfairly label schools and students as failing.

"National league tables are a very narrow, simplistic and unreliable tool to assess education achievement and school success. This is especially so in New Zealand where they would, no doubt, be based on dodgy, unfair and unmoderated national standards information."

Labour leader David Shearer said: "The Government's National Standards does not allow one school to be compared against another, and we've said this right from the very beginning. It's not comparing like against like, so I think the idea is really dead in the water."

- NZ Herald

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