Principals at hundreds of Auckland schools have been advised to stop attending training on national standards after some complained about trainers' inability to answer important questions about the new system.

The move is yet another strike against the reporting system being implemented in primary and intermediate schools this year to try to better gauge progress in reading, writing and maths.

Some schools - mainly in Northland and Southland - have refused to implement the standards.

Auckland schools have this week opted to boycott training being provided at a cost of $26 million because it is confusing.

After investigating the issue for six months the Auckland Primary Principals Association sent its 401 members a letter this week recommending they don't attend any further training on the implementation of the standards.

"APPA believes that the Government's national standards policy is irreconcilably flawed, confused and unworkable," says the letter.

"The standards are not in fact standards and therefore cannot be moderated to provide valid, reliable and consistent achievement data."

APPA president Iain Taylor told the Weekend Herald this was not a boycott of the standards, but of the training which had left many who attended the first two rounds more confused than they had been before they went.

Mr Taylor said it was hoped someone from the Ministry of Education, or even the minister, would meet the group.

The end of the group's letter said: "If these fundamental issues are not addressed, APPA will need to take further action."

Mr Taylor, who said he had been flooded with calls of support on the group's stance, said it was not yet clear what that action would entail.

National Principals' Federation spokesman Geoff Lovegrove said APPA had the governing body's support but there were no plans at this stage to issue a similar directive nationwide.

It was up to schools in each area to decide what they were going to do.

NZEI Te Riu Roa, the country's biggest education union, said APPA's stance reflected the mood of principals nationally.

A survey last week showed 94 per cent of principals had concerns about standards and their implementation.

President Frances Nelson said the Government should engage with principals and teachers to address "a serious crisis of confidence in national standards".

"The Government's failure to engage in genuine consultation with principals and teachers at any stage in this process is coming back to haunt them," she said.

"It is not too late to achieve positive changes ... but the first step must be respectful engagement with those who are charged with leading the change."

But Education Minister Anne Tolley said the ministry had met the APPA and the concerns were being addressed.

She described the refusal to attend training as political grandstanding and a "completely unprofessional approach from a group which has been ... y opposed to the standards since the start.

"Planning for the next round of professional development training is well under way and it incorporates the concerns and suggestions raised by principals".

Ms Tolley said training was optional but the Government had invested $26 million in it because that was what teachers and principals had asked for.

"The sector is well aware that we are at the beginning of a three-year process and if changes need to be made then that is what will happen but we need to act now while one in five of our children are failing to learn the skills they need in reading, writing and maths."

GROWING OPPOSITION
* 119 schools - mostly in Northland and Southland - are refusing to implement the standards.

* Auckland Primary Principals' Association recommends staff from 401 schools stop attending standards training.

* 38,000 people signed a community petition expressing concern about the standards.