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A principal writes

Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, February 6th, 2010 - 86 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

School principal Pat Newman posted the following as a comment on Red Alert. It’s not a polished piece written with distribution in mind, but it’s from the heart, and well worth reproducing here (minor typos corrected). Pat added several further excellent comments, follow the link above.

I speak as a principal of a Decile 2 school that was just ERO’d last year in December and has also had independant research done on how we are performing, involving parents and community etc. Both these were superb. I have been a principal for over 28 yrs in a wide variety of schools throughout NZ, and have a reasonable profile in education in NZ. I include the above not to grandstand, but to validate hopefully my comments.

I am adamantly opposed to standards as discussed. I am not opposed to parents have good accurate information and they should be getting that now, and if not their parents should be loud and vociferous to get that info.

That also requires parents to pick up some responsibility to attend school, talk to their teachers and discuss their children’s progress though!.

I am opposed because standards will not identify poor teachers and they shouldn’t anyway and in my opinion, there are already existing avenues for that to happen, that are working. The figures reasonably accurately thought to fit that category are about 1% at anyone time, not the 30% Key reported. He got that figure from a sample survey/report from ERO that said about 30% of junior children were not coming up to standards. That sounds appalling but the reality is about 30% of our NZ children are coming into schools at about a 3 year old level.

In my school only 12% attain standards in Yr 1 (for a 5 yr old), 28% in Yr 2 and by end of Yr 3 99%. I have superb teachers. We pour heaps into kids, and make 5 yrs progress in 3 yrs for most of them, yet under this proposed system my school would be deemed a failure!

We have had extra money for funding lots of targeted funding to assist with his. Unfortunately this year that money has dried up and is going towards the nearly 60 million for standards and 30 million for private schools. For us to get back some of this money under the new standards we have to be labelled as failing school!!!

Private schools and homeschooling are exempt. Although the government is paying tax payer funding to both, the government seems to take it for granted that they never have poor teachers, all their children are up to ‘Standard’ etc . reality is quite different!

Hopefully that might show some of you why many of us are extremely angry. I also suggest you google ‘No child left behind’ and look at the parent group websites, and see its effect on American schools. I have visited schools overseas that are involved in such programmes and have seen the effect on genuine learning.

Pat Newman

86 comments on “A principal writes ”

  1. reddy 1

    captcha: little

    Little Johns- Roughan and Key. Did they have a tough time at school? Do they have unresolved teacher fantasies?

    There is no mention of benefits to children in this scheme. It is a direct attack on teachers, because according to the little Johns parents can’t understand them and they are incompetent. A dirty attempt to drive a wedge between parents and teachers.

    Children are now being brought up by bankers, journalists and politicians, not teachers and parents.

    KPIs start at home eh? Outsourcing at lower wages starts early right?

  2. Mac1 2

    Pat Newman was a passionate advocate for primary education in our area and a school principal in the forefront of leadership in education.

    His passion, wisdom and determination were undoubted.

    Still successful, I see, and his ideas are still worth paying a lot of attention to.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Definitely a good read – especially his comments after that one which puts everything National have said into perspective. Basically, he proves that National are talking out their arse.

  4. Gus 4

    “That sounds appalling but the reality is about 30% of our NZ children are coming into schools at about a 3 year old level.”

    So now the core of your argument is not only have the politicians got this wrong but also the parents are preparing their children poorly for school !!! The gall of you.

    The public are not with you. That fact you cannot see that is a disgraceful indictment on you. Whilst I respect your credentials I despise your constant complaining (as a group).

    If the elected government implemented oh lets say a policy the Police didn’t agree with like publishing suburbs crime rates would we see the same reaction as we have seen from principles and teachers ? Doubtful. They certainly wouldn’t mount a campaign of institutional disobedience like you have.

    You do not make policy, you implement it. Get on and do it and stop whinnying about it. Earn our respect back because you have lost our confidence.

    And lastly stop treating parents as if they have no idea about whats good for their own children.

    • zugzug 4.1

      “That sounds appalling but the reality is about 30% of our NZ children are coming into schools at about a 3 year old level.’

      This doesn’t surprise me at all. I hate to sound like my grandfather but the quality parenting these days has taken a major dive. One only needs to walk around a school at lunch time to see that at most kid’s parents haven’t a clue about nutrition. Likewise the amount of kids being read to and being encouraged to read for leisure these days is surely on the decline.

      Parent’s are kind of like motorists in the fact that every parent/motorist thinks they are great/safe and its all the other people that let the team down. Hate to break it to you but a good portion of the 30% of parents sending their kids to school at a 3 year old level and feeding them absolute shite for lunch think they are doing “just fine thank you”. But no, a lot of parents are struggling to raise their kids to the standard they should but either don’t know any better or are in denial.

      • Macro 4.1.1

        Add to that the fact that most young children grow up in either single parent families or a family where both parents are working. Pre-school day cares are fine – but they can’t offer the same as a caring parent. Sorry folks but it’s true. These are the little things that have a huge influence on the overall development of the young child where it learns from being with the parent. Quality time and all that is just that – a little time where you spend some time one on one with a child – but it doesn’t replace Katie or Billy playing in the kitchen while mum or dad works close by during the day. Seen both parenting styles in action and I know which one is best – no doubt.
        I also understand that with todays salaries and wages being constantly depressed by neo-liberal employment policies and the globalisation of the labour market, both parents have to work to support a family.

    • BLiP 4.2

      Teachers are not slaves. They are public servants and have a wider responsibility than just muted acquiescence to National Ltdâ„¢. In fact, they would be failing in their duty as public servants if they were to put into place policy that has been repeatedly shown to be harmful.

      • Gus 4.2.1

        Lets try that with other Government departments then and see how that works shall we ? Police, Defence, Corrects, DOC, Customs …. another great idea from the fringe. Again so out of touch with what mainstream parents want.

        They are failing in their duty now so all you are suggesting is ramping it up a little ?

        No one is suggesting that they are slaves. Lets not open up the debate to the working weeks of teachers verses other occupations. My sons just went back to school after almost 2 months of Xmas holidays. For gods sake !!! Slaves indeed.

        This is about parents getting information that they are ENTITLED to about the performance of THEIR children against a national standard. You may not want it but we (parents) do.

        And believe me … it is not you out on the fringe that vote Parties into power, it is us, mainstream parents, solo or otherwise and we want this and we will get this. If National do not deliver this then we will find a party that will.

        Put that in your pot pipe and smoke it BLiP 🙂

        • Macro

          All I can say gus to that comment is that you do not understand what it is you are asking.

          • Gus

            Yeah your right. I have no idea. Thank god you pointed that out to me. Could we meet so I could offer you my thanks for pointing this out to me ?

        • BLiP

          Gosh – must be ten years since I last smoked pot!

          Let me attempt to apply Occam’s Razor in my own clumsy way: an employee is required to comply with any properly delivered reasonable and lawful instruction. The instruction to commence a practise which has proven to be both ineffective and dangerous is unreasonable. This is the dispute: the standards are unreasonable.

          A similar issue has recently be resolved in relation to Corrections, since you mentioned it. The Government had to take the corrections officers to court in relation to double-bunking (or whatever it was). The corrections officers said it was unreasonable, the matter went to Court and, alas, the Court agreed with the Government and now the original instruction is being complied with, however reluctantly.

          I look forward to the Government taking the teachers to Court in relation to this issue. There simply is no evidence that the national standards in their current form are in any way reasonable.

          I know for a fact that the information you want in relation to your children is available now, and I am surprised that you have had no success in your endeavours. Yours is certainly a frustrating situation and I can see how the appeal of the easy-fix apparently on offer from National Ltdâ„¢. However, in light of the reasonable objections from the teachers, the principals, the education experts, and the government’s own advisers, how about we give the standards a trial first and get some local data before we risk mangling every child’s chances? Would you have an objection to such a trial?

          • Gus

            Hah I love the way you throw words like facts and evidence around as though you have some huge insight that the rest of us don’t. Why don’t you step out from behind your curtain and and let us see you and then determine how qualified you are to preach to us about your facts and evidence. I don’t think intellectual beach combing on the net picking and choosing ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’ is sufficient BLiP.

            I suspect you are like the rest of the fringe element I tolerate but despise in the party. You have a expert opinion on everything that you have no experience in. You get your facts and evidence in the same manner the IPCC have done … selectively and ONLY if it suits your argument.

            Yeah Im angry … angry that self qualified experts like you have the remotest chance of influencing the education of my children.

            This is what you dont get BLiP … in the real world out here we just want to know how are kids are doing and we want to know in plain english. We want to know how they are performing compared to where the national standard is. Is that really to much to ask ?

            “This is the dispute: the standards are unreasonable”

            Serious … why are you so scared of this ? Why are Pat and his kin so scared ? Its what parents want !!! Why not try to get behind it and make it work ?

            Comon Pat, wade on in here and tell us honestly, why are you so terrified about parents knowing how their kids are performing against a national standard ? It wouldnt have anything to do with your perceived threat to your school funding and consequently your salary and perks package because you know your school wouldnt fair well would it ?

            Am I being to blunt ?

            BTW ” I am surprised that you have had no success in your endeavors”. Don’t be surprised … its a VERY common experience for parents. VERY common. Thats why we support national standards so strongly.

            • BLiP

              Great that we can agree on something.

              I think the trial should include at least a half dozen schools from each decile. Not sure about including the correspondence school but there is the wide demographic available from that single source. Perhaps that BoT’s who are keen could volunteer?

              • Gus

                Thats all you got ? mmmmmmm

                There will be no trial. This is a watershed issue for National and their do nothing PM. If they do not get this fully implemented then they WILL lose the next election.

              • BLiP

                Do you know TightyRighty or maybe his little sister SlightyRighty?

            • fraser

              “determine how qualified you are to preach to us”
              “You have a expert opinion on everything that you have no experience in.”
              “self qualified experts like you”

              what are your qualifications then? (and no, procreating doesn’t count)

              seeing as your qualifications are about as good as anyone without an education background, would you be intersted in the views of those who do have the qualifications to know what they are on about?

              If not, i would be more than willing to do your next dental checkup for you – no charge

    • oftenpuzzled 4.3

      Gus, Pat is not saying parents are not performing he is saying that in a sample 30% of 5yr olds had not reached an educational standard that is expected at schooll entry. There are many and complex reasons for children in there first years not all starting on a level playing field. these range from economic, pyschological, maturation, social, geographic and even religious. There is a group of children who possibly need to wait until they are 6 yrs before they start school for a complex mix of the above. There are those who have learning difficulties with aspects of the curriculum, especially reading and maths, and many an adult will tell you that they are no good at maths – I have difficulty in understanding science and only have partially grasped its concepts and that ‘failure’ if some wish to name it is not due to my teachers of the past, my brain is just not keyed in that direction. However I am relatively successful and achieved in in other areas of the curriculum. I have always felt that every parent should spend a year in a new entrant class and this whole debate will take a different slant. We are delighted with the teachers at our school, our son although having every encouragement from his entry into the world has followed the pattern that Pat has outlined and now into yr 4 he is starting the year having gained tremendously over the past 3 years all thanks to his teachers and our support. Our teachers are doing a fine job in a very difficult environment. Thanks guys!

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      And lastly stop treating parents as if they have no idea about whats good for their own children.

      But, unless they’re trained teachers, they don’t know what’s best for their children. Being a parent doesn’t automatically mean you know everything there is to know about your children and how to teach them.

      • Gus 4.4.1

        Oh for Christs sake Draco, if you were a parent you would know how incredible stupid you sound. Parents are the best teachers there are, good or bad. 3 years training does not mean a teacher knows whats best for any kid.

    • So let me get this right. It does not matter that Pat has knowledge in the area and is dedicated and committed he should STFU and to what the public want even though they do not know what they are talking about and will only damage the education system.

      And we should spend $60m on a policy which could be avoided if parents actually went to school and talked to their kids teachers.

      I am sure that a similar argument was used in Nazi Germany to silence Hitler’s dissenters.

      • BLiP 4.5.1

        heh! Maybe the “docile” typo was actually a Freudian slip.

      • Gus 4.5.2

        Absolutely not. If I conveyed that then I apologise. I re-read my posts and I dont think I said Pat should STFU. But get this …. the time for this institutional obedience is over. Its time to realise that this is what parents want for the kids. Its going to happen. Get in behind it and make it work.

        Again you imply that we parents are too stupid to have thought about going to the school and talking to our kids teachers ? Wow your insight is truly enlightening. You know what happens when we do that ? Do you know what those teachers say ? They sure as hell dont support the current system. The say things like “sorry but this is how we have to do it” “I dont like it but I have to”

        You are WAY out of touch with whats going on out there in schools and soaking up the diatribe the principles and the union spout does not make you qualified in any way. They are heavily invested in fighting this because they believe it will threaten their income if their school is found to be wanting.

        Principles are fast losing the respect of parents with their conduct over this and when thats gone then we really will be in trouble. Get in behind it and make it work. That used to be the kiwi way. What happened to this Country?

        • quenchino

          Principles are fast losing !!!

          The only thing fast losing here is your spelling standards.

          If you want to shove a system onto NZ that has been a proven failure everywhere else, and is denounced by educational professionals everywhere… go right ahead.

          It is of course only morons who jump off waterfalls with fences and warning signs… while they themselves are convinced of how clever and brave they are being.

          • Gus

            My bad with the spelling. My spelling ability is probably below the National Standard, not that we would know that in the current system.

            Proven failure ? Hmmmmm love the implication that what you know is beyond doubt. Why dont parents buy that I wonder ?

            Oh my god, now this is a waterfall issue ? So dramatic. My gosh are you saying that this will result in the death of the educational system ? What insights you have.

            Clearly drama was your favourite subject at school. Im guessing you were the drama queen 🙂

            • quenchino

              Proven failure ? Hmmmmm love the implication that what you know is beyond doubt.

              It’s the sort of thing you can tell when other countries who’ve tried this stupid idea are quietly pulling out of it.

              My gosh are you saying that this will result in the death of the educational system ?

              It’s a metaphor, and it’s you dramatically projecting the ‘death’ of the educational system.

              How about just ‘paralysed from the neck down’?

            • mickysavage

              Troll alert

  5. Jenny 5

    The Front Page headlines in the NZ Herald today reported that 73% of parents support the National Government’s national education standards policy.

    I think that anyone with any interest in this issue should listen to the following contribution to this debate from professor Terry Crooks, the co-director of the national education monitoring project at Otago University, who was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand, Nine to Noon on Thursday morning.

    Listen to it here:

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20100204-0908-Terry_Crooks-048.mp3" /]

    Professor Terry Crooks, presents a sane sensible and balanced take on the Education Standards Policy. (in contrast to the government’s right wing punitive and hysterical approach.)

    From a position of knowledge, the first thing he does is tear up the government’s emotive assertion that 20% of primary school students are not meeting expected primary standards of reading and writing and maths.

    He points out that the government, in its shock horror assertion of a 20% failure rate, gets this 20% statistic from the number of students who leave high school without any NZCE qualification.

    First of all he points out that this figure is out dated, and in that, this figure has dropped to 16% of students leaving high school without any NZCE qualification.

    Most tellingly of all Professor Crooks, points out that at least 10% of this figure is due to these students, (for various reasons), having a lack of interest or engagement in the high school system, not in a fundamental basic lack of primary literacy and numeracy skills at all.

    He also points out that the remaining 6% of this statistic also includes the multiply handicapped who would struggle under any system.

    This interview and the professor’s responses, may be a a bit dry and academic for some, (interspersed as it is, with the Professors sighs and considered pauses) but bear with it.
    The kicker is in the end, where the professor puts up the diametrical contrasting example of what was done by the nation of Finland to lift their educational achievement levels to the highest in the world.

    Professor Crooks said that instead of trying to determine failing teachers and schools, Finland put a concerted effort into raising the status of teachers and making teaching a high profile profession, and trusting them to do the job.

    According to Professor Crooks it is no surprise that Finland came out top in international surveys of student achievement.

    The following is from the exchange between Kathryn Ryan and the Professor Crooks over the Finnish education system.

    Kathryn Ryan:

    “Do they have anything approaching the performance based pay system that is part of this scheme?”

    Professor Crooks:

    “They have no accountability measures as I understand it…..”

    Katheryn Ryan … (interrupting):

    “They have no individual accounting?”

    Professor Crooks:

    “There is no individualised accounting, and there is also, no school accountability measures. They put the investment in quality teaching and quality teaching education. And then they trust teachers to do the best job”.

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20100204-0908-Terry_Crooks-048.mp3" /]

    • Gus 5.1

      Hmmmmmm Professor you say ? Part of the institution that is so determined to protect itself from being accountable for the education of our children ? All I can say, apart from if you have trouble getting to sleep then this is great stuff, is thank god he has no say on the implementation of national educational standards.

      I respect his right to sit in his dusty old office surrounded by his vast collection of books and papers and pontificate whilst being divorced from the real world and the struggle that parents have finding out how their children are really performing.

      Trust teachers he says … I would trust them more if they wernt so frightened to tell parents how their kids are actually performing.

      I wonder how many Professors we have in this country and how well their children are doing in the education system ? I dont think anyone would be too surprised hence why they have the luxury of pontificating.

      Really Jenny ? Is this it ? This is what you think will turn the 73% of us that want National Standards ? Sigh ….

      • mickysavage 5.1.1

        Yeah why would we trust someone who has spent his life studying the subject.

        I know we should hand our world over to that super class of human beings who decry dry academic understanding of the world but instead only understand the instant fix, to match the stupidity of some of the general population.

        We should give power to the merchant bankers. I am sure they will do a great job.

        What? This John Key fellow is a merchant (w)banker?

        It has started already …

        • Gus

          You see Mickey you are a classic case of the problem with the fringe of our party. You are so poisoned by your politics and your hatred of National that you allow it to close your eyes to any idea that might have merit that doesn’t come from Labour. It would be fascinating to see your position if this had come from Labour (yes I accept that it wouldnt have in the current environment).

          I follow your posts and mostly I enjoy reading them but you are on the fringe and your hatred blinds you too much. It would be preferable if you stayed out of this.

          • mickysavage

            I am actually really really mainstream.

            I am not poisoned. I have a reasonable understanding of the education system from my children who have gone through it and relatives and friends who are teachers.

            My eyes are wide open.

            Tolley is unfortunately really stupid and for political reasons is wanting to stuff around with the education system.

            Her goal is to get the nats reelected in no more than 20 months time. The changes to the eduction system will have repercussions for many years.

            The proposal is bullsh*t. There will be no benefit to those parents of kiwi kids who have not managed to talk to their kid’s teacher lately. They may feel better but the available information will be the same.

            Lots of money will be wasted. The budget for kids with problems will be insufficient to do the job.

            This is not a party political rant, this is angst caused by the stupidity of the Crosby Textor designed campaign.

            • fraser

              “I am actually really really mainstream.”

              no your not! i am!

              at least… thats my my mates think 🙂

    • Sam 5.2

      From Wikipedia:

      During the first years of primary school, grading may be limited to verbal assessments rather than formal grades. The start of numerical grading is decided locally. Most commonly, comprehensive school pupils are issued a report card twice a year: at the ends of the autumn and spring terms. If a comprehensive school pupil receives the grade 4 in one subject at the end of the spring term, they must show by a separate examination at the end of summer term that they have improved in the subject. If the pupil receives multiple failing grades, they may have to retake the year. This, nonetheless, is rare and non-automatic. The decision to have a pupil retake a year is made by the teachers and the headmaster after hearing the pupil and the parents.

      Sounds very much like they have some kind of standards in Finland. 🙂

  6. sweetd 6

    Blip, using that logic, police can then choose what laws they enforce or not?

  7. Gooner 7

    Dunno know about you, but the reasons of “they won’t work and we already have them which are working” strikes me as kind of oxymoronic.

    Of course the most telling quote of Newman’s was this “will not identify poor teachers and they shouldn’t anyway.

    Why shouldn’t poor teachers be identified?

    It is fundamentally unsound for any principal to state that.

    • lprent 7.1

      Principals identify and deal with poor teachers already. That is why they have various systems inside the schools to track performance.

      Why does the MED need to know? What could the MED do about it anyway?

      • Jenny 7.1.1

        What they said they intend to do is punitively slash the pay of teachers under this performance based pay and failing schools scheme.

        Nasty and destructive to better educational outcomes.

        Don Brashe’s plan by stealth.

        • Gus

          Jenny thats supposition on your part and everyone who spouts that. It nicely colours the issue doesnt it. Distract, delay, insight fear …

          Back to the issue … parents want National Standards for very clear reasons. Some principles dont … now why is that ?

      • Gooner 7.1.2

        Why does MED need to know?

        I agree with you Lprent. I’m not sure about National’s Standards – education is not about square pegs and square holes.

        Captcha: “Arithmetics”. Standardised of course.

        • lprent

          Been doing some reading about similar programmes in the US and the UK. They went in with a hiss and roar, and are now being quietly taken out because they made things worse – not better – for the kids with issues.

          But really the thing that gets me about this is what Pat referred to in the post. What the programmes do is to suck money away from programmes that are successfully alleviating the identified issues with kids comprehension, and push it into efforts to conform to the standards.

          The effect will be that you wind up with kids being worse off because the government is pushing a slogan.

          To date I haven’t found a programme of this type that has run for 5 years of more and been successful. Why in the hell is Tolley pushing it?

      • Gus 7.1.3

        Spoken like the janitor at a docile 1 school who has no idea of how things work up there. Grow up.

    • rainman 7.2

      Gooner, you have a logic problem. National standards should not identify poor teachers, particularly at primary level. Does not mean poor teachers should not be identified.

      The chief problem with these standards is that National (like they do with almost everything) is oversimplifying the problem.

  8. Jenny 8

    Contrast the Finnish system, to the National Government’s system where Pat Newman’s school is facing being labelled as a failing school. And as a result will be starved of resources and respect.

  9. handle 9

    Gus if they implemented a crime policy that criminal justice experts all disagreed with, you’d have a problem. This is not a few grumbling cops denied their donuts.

    The academics and policy makers whose job is to know what makes education work say this policy does not make sense. Why would they bother complaining otherwise? These are people who study changes like this all around the world and learn what works and what does not. Not scared teachers. Not politicians who reckon they know it all because their own kids went to a school once.

    Sure, you know your own children best and you are aware of problems with their education. No one is disputing that. But why do you think you or the daft Mrs Tolley know more than education experts about how to fix them? Going to tell the police and courts how to do their job next? Your children deserve to see adults informing themselves properly before meekly handing over power to authority just because it feels easier. You are better than that.

    • Gus 9.1

      Seriously ? I recommend talk to someone who has kids and isn’t a principle or teacher. This is not telling them HOW to do their jobs. This is about HOW WELL they are doing their jobs. So let me get this right … we (global not finger pointing) dumb down the whole secondary education system and then we (now Im referring to teachers / principles) fight tooth and nail to ensure the parents cant tell how their kid are performing against a national standard ??? FFS.

      Like I said … you are so out of touch with what the public wants.

      I have 3 boys … at 2 different schools. And do you think it is possible for me to determine how they are performing currently ? Its rubbish and teachers and principles know it. The problem is they also know that any improvement to any aspect of the system will highlight THEIR deficiencies.

      I had a look at my school reports from 25 years ago when I started 5th form. Oh my god I almost fainted. It was possible to see not only how I was performing in my class but also against the whole year group and in clear easy to understand grades and plain english. In other words it gave you a clear standard at which they were performing at unlike the meaningless crap you get now from schools.

      The is crap what Pat and his brethren are doing. Its undermining an opportunity to fix one part of the system. Shame on him and shame on them all.

      I vote labour and except for one election I always have. This is not about politics for me. Its about my kids. And you and the people you seem to represent are WAY out of touch about what mainstream parents want.

      Instead of pissing and moaning about it why dont you get behind it and try to make it work ? Oh thats right … because its about politics for you !

      • BLiP 9.1.1

        I have 3 boys at 2 different schools. And do you think it is possible for me to determine how they are performing currently ? Its rubbish and teachers and principles know it. The problem is they also know that any improvement to any aspect of the system will highlight THEIR deficiencies.

        As a parent, what did you do? Did you make an appointment to speak with the teachers concerned? Did you look up the schools’ ERO reports on line? Did you speak to other parents with children in the same classes? Did you contact the Board of Trustees with your concerns?

        But, hey, perhaps those are not the sort of steps a “reasonable parent” would take.

        • Gus

          Good god how arrogant are you ? You automatically assume as a parent I am too simple to try all those things ? I have and why do you thing I had no success ? Because the current system is designed to protect teachers and principles from being accountable. This is why parents support national standards. Its because finally we will get some meaningful reporting from schools on OUR children that we have entrusted to them with their education.

          But this is all about politics for you. This issue allows you to try to score points for your team. Well we are on the same team you and I, except its not about the politics for me its about finding out how my boys are really performing.

          You are doing us more harm than good by booting this issue around to appease your ego and fringe politics.

          • BLiP

            You automatically assume as a parent I am too simple to try all those things ?

            So – you’ve read the school reports, spoken to the teachers, been in discussion with fellow parents, consulted the ERO reports, met with the Board of Trustees, and you *still* don’t know how your kids are doing?

            Can you explain, then, how you think national standards (sic) are going to make it easier for you to grasp?

          • handle

            Gus, these new standards are not going to bring the accountability you want and which I believe you deserve.

            It can happen already with smart and determined leadership. I would rather see precious effort put into stronger accountability and communication with parents, not extra tests. I also believe teacher performance should be addressed and would welcome genuinely incompetent teachers being fired.

            Sadly these daft ‘standards’ will not do any of that and I have no confidence that Tolley is the right person for the job either.

            Mainstream enough for you?

            • Paul

              I am a school principal – My weakest teacher left this summer after being held to account for performance. It isn’t straightforward (employer/employee relations and especially discipline matters) but I haven’t met many people in education prepared to let poor teachers get away with letting our kids down. This is simply teacher bashing, political, and with a long term eye on far right policy for education – it certainly won’t help raise standards in any way at all. What will is acting on what we already know (and ironically National Standards will , initially at least, tell us) that those from low socio-economic areas (read decile 1 through 3) will generally perform more poorly than those from other areas. Given that this knowledge is already out there working towards solving the ‘educational tail of underachievers’ is easy- fund these schools well, provide incentives for top teachers/principals to work in these schools, and develop and implement social policies that address the gap between rich and poor. But in all this remember we already are one of the top performing countries in the OECD (refer PISA testing results) for the teaching of Maths, Science and Reading.

              • handle

                Seems very similar tactics to ACC last year: Soften the public up by persistently complaining about and undermining the current system (which happens to be one of the best in the world in both cases).

                Then privatise it to generate another income stream for foreign corporates and make it more responsive to the needs of the top decile at the expense of everyone else. Dress it up with words like “choice”.

                We already know which students and schools need extra help and it’s usually the ones in poorer areas. A commenter at kiwibog claimed that Hattie has not factored socio-economic status into his reasearch. Does anyone have details?

  10. Jenny 10

    “One of the dangers of pointing out the failures of the education system and blaming teachers for it, is that you undermine the profession.”

    Professor Terry Crooks, the co-director of the national education monitoring project at Otago University.

  11. Brett 11

    Do they stream kids in schools these days? I could not find anything in the MOE.

  12. prism 12

    About performance based standards for teachers and teaching to a required level, I seem to remember stories from USA recently about teachers giving undue coaching to pupils to help them to the required standard. The economists should dislike this policy as providing moral hazard and giving the wrong incentives.

  13. prism 13

    “That sounds appalling but the reality is about 30% of our NZ children are coming into schools at about a 3 year old level.’
    So now the core of your argument is not only have the politicians got this wrong but also the parents are preparing their children poorly for school !!! The gall of you.

    Gus the gall of you taking the attitude that teachers are parents’ servants and expected to fill in for parents who can’t find the time or commitment for their role.

    • Gus 13.1

      Spoken like a true teacher.

      • gitmo 13.1.1

        Nah most teachers are good sorts doing their best …. Prism’s just another retard blogger more interested in political point scoring than anything else.

        • BLiP

          I agree with you that teachers are good sorts doing their best, but blurting out divisive nonsense is buying into the whole National Ltdâ„¢ teacher bashing PR campaign. Thus, snide comments void of fact but stuffed with prejudice such as: “spoken like a true teacher” is, in fact, the cheap political point scoring here.

          Got anything constructive to add to the debate; any comments, perhaps, from teachers or principals or education experts that support National Ltdâ„¢’s education policy?

          • gitmo

            Can’t see what all the fuss is about really, all the schools I’ve been involved with as a parent or BOTs have provided reports to parents wherein the kids have been assessed vs NZ norm group for their age in maths, reading etc.

            I’m a bit surprised that there’s schools that aren’t providing this information to parents, as for all teachers being good sorts most are but there are as in any profession some useless twats.

            • BLiP


              Have to agree with you there – well, almost. The reporting of an individual child’s performance against a national average is available, same with individual schools, and New Zealand is holding its own in the international stakes. Sure, nothing’s perfect but, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

              So what is National Ltdâ„¢ playing at? They way they are going about it is to treat the sector as if it were some great big baked beans factory where inputs/outputs can be measured and workers monitored with a machine, where its simply a case of raw beans in, add sauce, can, and despatch. As everyone is pointing out to them, it don’t work like that – children are not cans of baked beans, they are human beings and come complete with the myriad strengths and weaknesses that make us the individuals we are.

              One of the wiser commentators suggested that the situation is of National Ltdâ„¢’s own making as a result of its pre-election focus-group identified “problem” with education, and it *has* to be seen to be doing something about it. I think that might be part of it, but since when have election promises meant kicking up such a fuss and setting out on a battle royale? Chopper Tolley reading a childrens’ book to senior teachers at a formal meeting and other goof ups hasn’t helped, but what happened to King John of Charmalot, the great “deal maker”?

              I can easily understand all the fuss. The scenario has got kids, families, communities, fear for the future, goodies and baddies, plus its cheap easy copy for the indolent media. Its going to be fun watching it all play out, but I’ll be keeping my main focus elsewhere. This education squabble looks to me like a distraction.

              Probably slightly paranoid – but even if I am, that doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.

            • mickysavage


              Some sort of instruction from MED could avoid the expenditure of huge amounts of money on a scheme which will do nothing more than suck in resources and hurt decile 1 schools.

            • Paul

              This is true. ERO’s report says about 10% are poor at teaching reading in years 1-3. This is not good – no doubt about that – but probably pretty much the same across most professions. I’ve personally had a couple of fairly average lawyers and the name ‘quack’ for doctors didn’t come about by chance for example. Is it reasonable to expect all teachers to be outstanding? All Principals to do everything right?

        • prism

          I object to being called –
          “Prism’s just another retard blogger more interested in political point scoring than anything else.”
          However if I am, it takes one to know one.
          gitmo other people’s opinions if they differ from yours are apparently political point scoring, while yours are perfect examples of tight, incisive, intelligent, reasoned argument. Yeah right.

          [lprent: I’d concur – IMHO prism seems to be less interested in political point scoring than almost anyone in these forums. In fact I’ve yet to deduce who he is likely to throw his vote to. ]

          • gitmo

            Sorry I mistook you for Trevor Mallard.

            I’ve also admitted many times to being a troll……… I think all politicians apart from a very few exceptions should be euthanised.

        • Gus

          Your right. I apologise to teachers for that slur.

  14. Paul 14

    The point Pat makes is that kids learn at their own rates. Some come to school ready to learn – some are simply not so ready (think about the oft discussed debate about boys v girls learning which shows that boys catch up in high school (mostly). The problem with National Standards for 5 year olds is that for those who are ‘still in the sandpit’ rather than the library they are labelled failures, at 5! Ridiculous. To a lesser degree the same applies right through primary school and intermediate and through life. If you measured me at 25 I would maybe not have reached a National Standard – now at 45 I have a degree and Postgraduate qualifications. From below to probably above educational achievements. All ok actually.

  15. Dan 15

    When I reflect on the most effective teacher colleague in my 35 years teaching, I think of Dave, who always insisted on taking the bottom stream class in SC Science. Only a few students ever got SC Science (ie they failed the national standard of the time) but all but one or two had Science as their top mark.
    Under the NACT party scheme, the kids are failures and Dave would fail performance related pay. The parents however were more than happy with the reports they received and that their youngsters had performed above expectations.
    It is fascinating that the debate has shifted from the merits of national standards (overseas experience has shown time and again they don’t work) to teacher bashing, which has been a NACT favourite for years. It is OK to belong to a Business Round Table union but not OK to belong to professional association such as NZEI.

  16. Trevor Mallard 16

    It is also worth having a look at Laxon on Hattie. He is Key’s standards expert and tells Key that his standards should be dumped and he should start again. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10624412&pnum=0

    And the cheek of Gus dumping on Terry Crooks for being out of touch with standards in schools – this is the NEMP expert – not many people in closer touch. You can see the right attacking the individuals when they sense trouble coming down the track.

    Ambivalent about Fiji winning sevens – I supported Samoa after we went out – but Frank and the rest his team prob unhappy they weren’t there. Time to celebrate a great event.

    • Gus 16.1

      Heh. Trevor you must have been at high school in the fifties or sixties right ? Dig around and see if you still have some of your old school reports. Then compare them to the crap we get from schools now. ANYTHING that gives a parent a better idea of how their child is performing is an improvement on what we have now. For parents that is the core of the issue and NOTHING you say will change our minds about that.

      I dont think its a cheek. He is TOO close. You have a cheek for implying Im from the right just because I support National Standards.

      Its surprising to find you ambivalent about anything 🙂

      • mickysavage 16.1.1

        The current proposals are for testing of 5 and 6 year olds. This should be said many times so that everyone can comprehend this.

        The current proposals are for testing of 5 and 6 year olds.
        The current proposals are for testing of 5 and 6 year olds.
        The current proposals are for testing of 5 and 6 year olds.
        The current proposals are for testing of 5 and 6 year olds.

        I looked at my original reports for me at that age (they are pretty old now) and there is no sign of any marks.

        You should have a look at current NCEA results. They provide detailed grading of students’ abilities, far more than I received.

        NCEA was introduced gradually with appraisals and reviews. National Testing is being smashed through with a sledgehammer.

        • prism

          I can’t keep up ms. I try and read up on policies and understand them, but I took it for granted the National Standards would be for primary level.
          I can’t believe only 5 and 6 yrs. They need to be tested on whether they are properly potty trained and wash their hands when they’ve been to the loo at that age.
          No wonder Tolley was reading from a kiddy’s book, she has obviously understood the ages being addressed.

      • Paul 16.1.2

        If this was just about reporting to parents there would be little outcry. Some schools do this well some less so. If the government wanted to improve this then it would be easy. The truth is they want reporting to parents to be in a way that they can use for their own ends.

  17. Jum 17

    I’m going to print out a copy of this Principal’s heartfelt words and carry it in my handbag and show it to anyone who tries to tell me that Nat Stds are going to be of any real use.

    I know that my children had good teachers because I was there helping. I know that my children were doing well in school because their reports were informative and because I kept an eye on their homework and went to their prizegiving. I had to read, sign and return regular notices about their position as far as their learning level was concerned. It was quietly managed without anyone but their parents and teacher knowing.

    I went to the high school evening to ask questions about NCEA, although most of my questions were answered in the pamphlet brought home by my children.

    Whether I worked or not there were times I could visit the school and check up on my children. The numbers of parents who turned up to these evenings was not great. The school helpers were not huge.

    Parents must take some responsibility for their children’s learning. Governments must give teachers what they need to teach and accept that teachers have been taught how to teach, not governments.

    I am preparing a report on this government’s progress; their learning level is stunted. I am considering closing down their funding until they show a marked improvement. I suggest summer school with Pat Newman. In order that they learn how to achieve better outcomes, I suggest they shut up and listen to the teacher.

    Their reporting group, the Herald, will be replaced by a higher Standard which should lead to a better countrywide standard of reporting.

  18. The real crime (if what has been reported as true) is that Turia lobbied and exempted Maori total immersion schools from unit standards.

    If ever there need to be an appraisal and overhaul of relevent education/educators to unemployment stats, it’s in that area.

    and why the fuck are the voices of our polynesian (inclusive of maori) ‘leaders’ not being heard on the wider issue ?

    • quenchino 18.1

      That’s a valid point. Either the Nats believe that these “National Standards” are a good thing for all children and should apply to all children… or they do not.

      Which then begs their real intentions.

  19. Exempting kura buys Turia’s support, but it does an injustice to underperforming maori students and teachers. Of course Goff cant call bullshit without being seen as brown bashing. So what has Shane Jones or Carmel Sepuloni and their like got to say ?

    if anything, national standards are whats needed more to see how maori students/schools and teachers compare to mainstream and how well placed students are to enter the workforce or higher education from that comparison ?

    whats to be scared of…losing funding and closing of schools ?…big deal !!! what with elite iwi having the resources to fund their own high performance schools and scholarships it would free up state funding to go towards underachieving mainstream schools.

  20. Paul 20

    And this is especially true given that the achievement tail is made up of a disproportionate number of Maori and Pacific Island kids. And that the MOE have invested heavily in things such as Kotahitanga and Ka Hikitia to address this issue.

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