A strict “old school” mandate of one hour of reading, writing and maths each day could be met with reluctance from the education sector, says a Marlborough principal.
Riverlands School principal Bradley Roberts said the curriculum was already taught, but it was integrated across the education system in a different format.
National, Act and NZ First signed a coalition agreement to form the next Government on Friday.
At the announcement, National leader Christopher Luxon said every primary and intermediate school would teach an hour a day each of reading, writing and maths to “lift educational performance”.
It comes from their policy, Teaching the Basics Brilliantly, which was announced in March.
The policy also called for regular assessments, with tests each year for Years 3 to 8, to assess progress in reading, writing, maths and science.
Roberts said an hour on each of the core subjects was not how the sector delivered the curriculum any more.
“I don’t think I would like to see it mandated that we had one hour a day that is just reading, one hour a day that is just writing, and one hour for maths.
“That’s not how people learn, that’s not how the curriculum works.”
Schools have an integrated curriculum that incorporates all of the essential learning areas, Roberts said.
It would be a “bit old school” to put the three subjects into one-hour blocks, he said.
He said the policy could face some resistance from the sector.
“It wouldn’t be easy to implement, because the people that know the sector best, being the educators, would have some reluctance in doing that.”
Meanwhile, he said there had been a limbo period for educators as they waited for a curriculum refresh, dubbed Te Mātaiaho, from the Ministry of Education.
“I think all of National’s talk around ‘teaching the basics brilliantly’ has perhaps been overshadowed by that [refresh] because within that they do talk about a common practice model and looking at making sure there are consistencies across the sector ...
“So I don’t think [National’s plan] was anything too different from the curriculum refresh which was being developed under the Labour Government.”
Bohally Intermediate School principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn said they were already implementing set reading, writing and maths into the school day.
Cameron-Dunn said after “years of an integrated curriculum”, where subjects were combined with things such as inquiry learning projects, the school had found pupils were missing out on some essential skills.
“So we have gone back to a more structured approach to the day,” she said.
“Our teachers currently differentiate the programme to meet the needs of individuals. Not everyone reads the same texts, for example, or does the same maths.
“It is set up to meet the needs of the child. Some students need extra support and some need extension.”
Cameron-Dunn said they would find ways to keep other subjects such as PE, science, technology and the arts as part of the school day.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.