Anne Tolley, Minister for wrecking primary education, is a fool. Sorry, but it’s the only conclusion I can reach. She doesn’t seem to have the first or faintest idea of what “national standards” are actually going to mean in practice. To maintain this blissful state of ignorance she has had to ignore veritable mountains of expert and professional advice. It is literally unbelievable. Here’s the final straw:
Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday told teachers she would be “appalled” if they told parents their children were failing National Standards.
… [A teacher] started showing parents how their children were faring against the National Standards in reading. “They asked, ‘Is my child a failure?’ I said, ‘According to National Standards, yes, but according to me they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing’.” … Mrs Tolley replied: “… I’m appalled that any teacher would say to any parent that their child is a failure.”
What the (pardon me) hell does Tolley think national standards are for? You achieve them or you don’t, if you don’t achieve them you’ve failed to achieve them. If you don’t achieve them you’re a failure. That’s one of the major flaws with national standards, and that’s exactly what experts and professionals have been telling Tolley for months!
We are very concerned that the intended National Standards system wrongly assumes that children are failing if they do not meet the standard for their age. This will lead to the repeated labelling of many young children as failures and will be self-fulfilling because it will damage children’s self-esteem and turn them off learning and achieving in literacy and numeracy and other curricula areas.
The policy is driven by ideology. Research evidence shows that National Standards will not lead to improved outcomes for students. They will simply label individual students as failures, and may lead to league tables that wrongly label schools as failures. Many countries that have gone down this route in the past are now turning away from it. Refusing to recognise the weight of local and international evidence against such policies is most unwise.
Many children, who do not reach the national standards will be labelled as failures, by their parents and peers. This will be inevitable in Years 1 and 2, as the gap between high and low decile children at age 5 is already huge, and hard to eradicate in the short term. This factor will be tragic for young children, as negative labels are always hard to shake off.
The New Zealand Educational Institute in the media:
The first round of reporting against the standards has begun labelling children as failures, with parents and teachers now conceding that for many students, this process, as predicted, is damaging their motivation to learn.
And so on and so on, a universal chorus of resistance to Anne Tolley’s stupid national standards. Standards that label children as failures. That’s what they’re designed to do. That’s what everyone has been complaining about. And now Anne Tolley is “appallled” – she is “appalled that any teacher would say to any parent that their child is a failure”. Unbelievable. Key needs to show some actual leadership and bundle this blithering idiot on to the back benches, out of harms way. Because it is our children that she is harming.