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0912 National Standards - 7 December 2009

9 December 2009

A CURRENT ISSUE: NATIONAL STANDARDS                            


There is some controversy right now, with the government’s imposed “National Standards” being forced through at great haste.  New Zealand Principals and Teachers are greatly concerned at the speed of this plan, and seriously question the need to implement something that has proved to fail in every other country that has tried it.  We have families in our schools who brought their children to New Zealand to escape the “National Testing” that has ruined education in their home countries.


At Kaikohe East School, we have been working for several years to improve the way we assess children’s work, and the way we report their progress to whanau.   We are already assessing all children against national standards, and then putting learning plans in place to lift achievement levels.  We provide whanau with accurate, up-to-date information on children’s learning levels, and we try to do this in “plain language”.   You will find the reports you received on 30thNovember will rate children against New Zealand Curriculum levels (“At risk, On Track, Advanced).

A lot of five-year-olds arrive at school well below their own age level. This is often due to poverty levels, home circumstances, lack of preschool attendance etc. It is our job to raise their levels before they leave our school, and we put a huge amount of time, resources, specialist help and energy into doing this.   The Government’s “National Standards” will not improve what we are already doing well.    We are concerned that this total emphasis on LITERACY & NUMERACY will be at the expense of the other important areas of the curriculum (Science, Music, Phys.Ed, Social Sciences, Art, etc).  The Government has now stopped supporting all of those areas of the curriculum, in order to fund their National Standards. Literacy and Numeracy we agree underpin all other areas of the curriculum and are a priority but they should not be the only emphasis we offer.


THE MESSAGES YOU ARE HEARING:  Politicians are very good at saying they are doing “what the public wants”.   The Minister of Education, Hon Anne Tolley, has said that the public has called for “National Standards”, and we all know they clearly have not.   Any programme that is aimed at publicly naming and shaming schools cannot be good for our children or our nation. We have an outstanding New Zealand Curriculum, just released in 2007, that has received worldwide acclaim.  We are proud of it; we have been implementing it, and it remains our priority for 2010.


I do not believe you want your children to work to a narrow curriculum.  We all want to provide opportunities for all children to do well in all subjects.  This is a PRIMARY school, and we will provide an across-the-board good start for your children.   That is our primary responsibility.


This is not about higher pay, or better working conditions, or shorter working hours for teachers.  This is about the quality of what we do.   I believe our children are really well served by their teachers in New Zealand, and I know how much effort our teachers put in for your children.   We never want to lose the amazing goodwill that exists here in our New Zealand schools.


FINALLY:  Many colleagues who have had opportunity to travel overseas to look at education systems in a number of different countries such as UK and Ireland, Australia and Singapore, the USA and Canada have seen first hand the disastrous effects of their National Testing, and I do not want New Zealand to go down that trail.   We have so much to be proud of.   “National Standards” will NOT raise standards in New Zealand schools.   We can do so much better than that. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts or questions.

Yours truly,  

Chicky Rudkin Principal