A Southland principal who compared Education Minister Anne Tolley to German dictator Adolf Hitler has apologised to her school.

Marlene Campbell, principal of Invercargill's Salford School, said on her Facebook page on November 5: "And the MOE (Ministry of Education) attack schools deferring setting targets, thats a constructive response? Excuse me Minister Hitler? Am I in Germany? Is this the end of self managing schools? read Kelvin Smythes latest blog, he is a true hero!"

Salford School is boycotting national standards, introduced this year.

Ms Campbell's post was picked up by bloggers Whaleoil and Kiwiblog. Her page has now been made private.

On Salford School's website today Ms Campbell said she regretted and withdrew her comments.

"I feel passionately about National Standards and I am immensely frustrated by the damage they will do to children's learning."

She said she was disappointed her comments had detracted attention from debate over the standards.

"I unreservedly apologise to the parents and students of Salford for casting our school into disrepute."

A note posted on behalf of Salford's board of trustees said Ms Campbell's references about Mrs Tolley had been her own view.

"We wish to continue to work together to ensure our children strive towards educational excellence," the board said.

Principals' Federation president Ernie Buutveld said the comments detracted from the national standards opposition message.

"It was an unfortunate comment," he said.

"We tell our kids ... to attack the issue, not the individual," he said.

"I guess that's probably a salient comment for adults, as well."

A spokesman for Mrs Tolley said she would not be dignifying the comments with a response.

Instead, she remained "focused on lifting achievement for all children, especially the one in five who are leaving school without the basic skills they need in reading, writing and maths".

Under the leadership of Hitler, Nazi forces systematically killed millions of civilians - an estimated six million Jews, as well as other political and religious opponents.

- NZPA