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Boards Taking Action

Written By: - Date published: 9:11 am, September 8th, 2011 - 133 comments
Categories: education, schools - Tags: , ,

RNZ had the news this morning that the schools most strongly opposing the nonsense of “national standards” – the Boards Taking Action Coalition – have decided to change their tactics.

Hundreds of schools are abandoning a protest against national standards in reading, writing and maths.

The schools had refused to include the standards in their charters even though they faced statutory intervention if they did not. This week, the Boards Taking Action Coalition told its members to alter their charters, but note their opposition to the standards.

The coalition says it does not want its members punished and it will now consider its next move against the policy.

Schools are certainly not “abandoning” the protest. Faced with the threat of having Boards disbanded, they are simply choosing to live to fight another day.

Coalition spokesperson Perry Rush told Morning Report it has been a ‘David and Goliath’ struggle which the boards have for now lost.

He said the boards have recognised it is not in the interest of the community to continue the fight against the ministry.

In the interview Rush mentioned the kinds of action planned for next year, and the possibility that many more schools would join it.

This has been a remarkable and high profile protest. Around 400 (a quarter of all) primary schools have taken real risks to push their protest to the limit. Faced with dissolution and “statutory management”, staying in the game now to fight on next year seems like the best outcome. The best possible outcome for children’s education, which is what it’s all about. Bravo to the Boards Taking Action Coalition, and all the best for the struggle ahead.

133 comments on “Boards Taking Action ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    It is entirely possible that if Labour win the election, they will suspend or repeal National Standards anyway.

    • A big if, but if Labour get a coalition together (they don’t talk of “winning”) and repeal National Standards, what if three quarters of primary schools refuse to comply with them and choose to retain National Standards? Would that be reasonable?

      There is plenty of valid debate about the usefulness and the implementation of National Standards.

      But the wider issue is whether public servants should have the right to refuse to follow government policy. Applauding resistance to following policy is a curious stance.

      • Ben Clark 1.1.1

        Boards of Trustees are not public servants. They’re Mums & Dads overseeing the running of their schools, wanting what’s best for their kids. If they don’t have a right to protest the education of their children, I don’t know who do.

        And I don’t think there’s three-quarters of primary schools wanting National Standards. Indeed there’s definitely a large number of schools that had already gone down the route of lip-service to the National Standards (as advised, cajoled, threatened by the Ministry) to get their charter approved. Saying and doing the absolute minimum. Then there will be a number who are reluctantly implementing them, and those without an opinion who do what they’re told.

        Actively supporting National Standards? Much less.

        And with good reason.

        • Pete George

          School principals are not involved at all?

          Do you think it would be fine for Boards of Trustees and principals to resist any Labour policies? Even a small proportion of them?

          • Colonial Viper

            Well since Labour would actually work with and seek agreement from principals your point is moot. Tolley created a stew by being a little dictator – behaviour you condone.

            • Pete George

              I’ve never condoned Tolley’s behaviour. I’ve said implementation could have been better – both by Tolley and by schools.

              And you’re avoiding the question. Should schools follow government policy or should it be optional?

              • felix

                Surely they should just do what everyone agrees is sensible and in the best interests of NZ.

                Right Pete?

              • bbfloyd

                no petey.. you are the one avoiding the question…. reality is there for any to see if they choose to…

                choosing to attempt to digress any debate into irrelevant, meaningless cul-de-sacs seems to be the only tool left to tolleys apologists…

                no-one is fooled… the only thing i fail to understand is why people bother to try to educate you… that horse bolted decades ago by the sound of it…

                • It’s a fundamental question about our democracy – should following government policy be optional?

                  • felix

                    For who?

                    • Rob

                      We certainly want them and have had then actioned at our childrens primary school. It is nice to be able ask and get information on where our children stand nationally.

                    • felix

                      What Rob? Are you replying to me or just filling the page with random distractions so Petey can excuse himself?

                    • Pete George,

                      A principal of an Invercargill school interviewed on Checkpoint tonight mentioned a comment by a Board member (I think): “The choice is between being ethical or legal.” (words to that effect.

                      At the very least, that’s an extraordinarily badly (politically) managed predicament within which to place a considerable number of teaching professionals and parents (as Trustees and ‘general’ parents of schoolchildren). The government appears to just assume that this is the teachers being ‘political’ rather than, in good faith, thinking that, just perhaps, there is some justified, educational reason why National Standards are being opposed.

                      That response actually shows that it is the government that is being ‘political’ in this instance, and being so as a priority over concerns about the education of children and, in many instances, the wishes of parents (e.g., me).

                      I thought Tomorrow’s Schools and the Boards of Trustees that came with it were meant to hand more power to parents and schools. Apparently not so when it comes to some vote trawling scheme like ‘National Standards’.

                  • ianmac

                    Government Policy declared by a Minister during an Election Campaign, was that Surgeons should save taxpayers money by sterilising surgery instruments only weekly.
                    Surgeons questioned the wisdom of such an untried and unresearched policy.
                    They sought research evidence but none was forthcoming.
                    They questioned the Minister’s qualification for the policy.
                    Surgeons pointed out the probable disasters which would result from the policy.
                    Some refused to follow the Policy and some secretly sterilised instruments as before, while appearing to comply.
                    The Minister refused to discuss the issue but instead said that Hospitals have a legal obligation to act on Government Policy regardless, or else Hospital boards and surgeons would be sacked.

                    Supporters of the Government were loud in their condemning of the Surgeons and said that if it is Government Policy the issue was that they must comply regardless, but would not engage in the discussions on the policy merit or lack of.

                    Should surgeons follow the instructions of politicians who enact Policy outside the commonsense principles of research and trial?
                    Pete George says, of course Surgeons should do as they are told and refused any debate about the merits of the Policy.
                    What do you think?

                    Ps: Not one Private Hospital would agree to follow that Policy!

                    • I didn’t say anything on that Ianmac, I have no knowledge about that issue.

                      You’ve attributed to me incorrectly.

                    • felix

                      Pete, should following govt policy be optional?

                      Yes or no.

                    • insider

                      Do National Standards tell teachers how to teach or are they imposing a measurement/achievement standard?

                      If the latter, then your comparison is flawed. The better one would be that the govt imposed on DHBs a requirement to report on the number successful and unsuccessful operations, deaths, waiting lists etc. Actually, that is something govts have been doing uncontroversially for years.

                    • Generally no, I don’t think people should be able to pick and choose which government policies they should accept. Otherwise our democracy would fail.

                      Ianmac’s example seems exceptional to me and I would oppose implementing something like that if it is as he describes.

                      National standards seem to be more of an ideological/political resistance which stands on much weaker ground to be opposed. Most schools have accepted them now (albeit some reluctantly) which suggests they don’t think they are a specific threat to the wellbeing of school pupils.

                      felix, should following govt policy be optional?

                      Yes or no.

                    • felix

                      Everything is optional, Pete.

                      Why do you think your opinion on the relative harmfulness of National’s policy vs ianmac’s example is of any relevance to the discussion?

                      Do you have special knowledge in the fields of education and surgery?

                      Looks more like:
                      “Pete reckons (x) so therefore (x) seems reasonable to Pete and as Pete reckons Pete is a reasonable person then therefore all reasonable people probably reckon (x) is reasonable too.

                      But if I’m wrong about that and you have some special info as to why you’re right and so many professional, trained, experienced educators are wrong, then lets hear it.

                    • So predictable felix. And a nonsense diversion. I’m not claiming any expertise on National Standard or education. I wasn’t arguing for or against the merits of National Standards.

                      Do you think 75% of schools are wrong?

                      There’s a lot more than tax and death that is not optional.

                    • felix

                      edit: Pete changed his comment while I was replying which is why I’m re-writing this.

                      Anakin, you need to learn the difference between “optional” and “consequence free”.

                      In the context of this discussion everything is optional, for obvious reasons. Can you guess what they are?

                      Complying with policy doesn’t equate to agreeing with it. (Careful when you reply to this bit btw, your whole argument hinges on it)

                      How about you answer why you think your expertise is so much greater and more relevant than the professionals in the field in one case but not the other? Why trust the surgeons but not the educators?

                    • felix

                      “So predictable felix”

                      I agree. It’s entirely predictable that I can expose your contradictions so easily.

                      It’s completely predictable that after repeating the same question all morning and demanding that everyone else answer it or have their integrity somehow impugned, you can’t even answer it yourself except by grunting “Meh, dunno. Maybe. Sometimes. Depends if it’s something I like or something I don’t. Dunno.”

                      Pretty much the only answer you give on anything though.

                      Maybe that can be your new name. Peter Dunno.

                    • You’ve got me there felix, you’re so clever at blog outmaneuvering and closing with a damning verdict. that should keep you satisfied for a while, until you find your next victim to devastate with your brilliance. Your father will be so proud.

                    • felix

                      Clearly you jest, but as usual you fail to challenge (or even address) my reasoning, preferring to pretend this is about you and your precious feelings.

                      Wah wah Pete. Anyone following the thread can see you, your motives, and your moves very clearly.

                      ps “blog outmaneuvering” : a delightfully cutesy term meant to imply that if we were in some other setting without keyboards and monitors between us, you wouldn’t keep getting your arse handed to you, as your intellect in real life is far superior to the wee bit you let out online.


                    • Et tu.

                      You can’t be saying stuff like that with a straight face.

                    • felix

                      So do it, Pete. Show where my analysis of your position is faulty. If I’m such a joke you should have no trouble.

        • prism

          @ Ben Clark –

          Anne Tolley certainly doesn’t trust teachers. She sees them as vested interests, rather than professionals whose interests are vested in our children.

          I believe further, that Anne Tolley is classist, and sees herself, her peers, and the government as employers of servant teachers. There was a comedy line about servants “You can’t get good help these days” and that is the attitude that underpins government attitudes. That’s behind their comments that imply some teachers are lazy, there is much mediocrity around, and teachers need incentives to achieve better like performance pay. I guess the National Standards are meant to show up which of the teachers are ‘lying down on the job’, as measured by the number achieving NS.

          It’s ironic that Tomorrow’s Schools was introduced to give locals input to their school and to make decisions outside the core curriculum. These National Standards have just been imposed from above by the Min of Ed and the Mini-ster. So much for the genuine efforts that most school boards have put in. That effort has not gained them any respect and consideration for their opinions and wants from government.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        What a sycophant

        PG’s fanatasy world where 3/4 of primary schools might actually choose to retain National Standards, probably as a viable alternative to losing an arm or a leg.

        But the wider issue is whether public servants should have the right to refuse to follow government policy. Applauding resistance to following policy is a curious stance.

        Oh don’t be disingenuous. Since when were Boards of Trustees ‘public servants’ unable to voice their opposition to shit policy?

      • Ianupnorth 1.1.3

        The valid debate is between those wanting and not wanting the standards – but don’t let facts get in the way of the arguments
        fact 1 – they do not do what they are supposed to – not one country has seen a marked increase in achievement via standards
        fact 2 – they make rote learning and testing passing more important that developing real skills like creativity, critical thinking, social interaction and compassion/empathy
        fact 3 – some countries have used the results of standards as a way of performance managing schools and their staff; again flawed, there are many factors that contribute to an individuals academic success (or lack of)
        As I have stated many times before if Tony Ryall told doctors or surgeons how to do their job he would be slammed – Tolley is NOT an educationalist and does NOT have the knowledge to enact a robust policy.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.4

        Pete, if the schools wanted to have these national standards in place, they easily could have started their own grass-roots initiative to achieve such a thing.

        It could easily start out as the schools in a particular part of a city, then all the schools in the city, then all the schools in a region.

        And yet this never happened.

      • freedom 1.1.5

        An open polling of the Boards would show exactly how many are not in favour of National Standards.

        It is safe money the quarter showing resistance would easily climb to three quarters if not higher.

        • Pete George

          If parents were polled what do you think the result would be?

          The Herald did a poll in Feb 2010:

          National standards policy: How parents mark it

          Like it: 73 per cent
          Hate it: 14 per cent

          Have there been any other polls?

          • r0b

            Pete, are you comparing an online poll (of persons unknown) with the will of the school boards (who we know are parents that have been elected by their communities to represent them).  Seriously?

            • Pete George

              Politicians have been elected by their communities to represent them.

              Will you answer the question – should schools follow government policy or should it be optional?

              • r0b

                Following government policy should always be optional in the cases where policy is demonstrably damaging.  

                In the same way that “I was only following orders” should never be a defence for committing an atrocity.

                • Curious.

                  So all the current government policies that The Standard posters have shown to be “demonstrably damaging” and all government policies that an opposition party shows to be “demonstrably damaging” can be ignored?

                  If a property owner could show that a CGT would be “demonstrably damaging” could they ignore it?

                  • r0b

                    Play reductio ad absurdum all you like Pete.  But you know as well as I do that “I was only following orders” is not an excuse for doing harm.

                    • insider

                      So are you saying rob that the pre NS system did no ‘harm’ to any student?

                    • What harm will be caused by National Standards (apart from harm to Labour’s ego)?

                    • r0b

                      Insider, Pete, I wonder if you have actually read anything about standards at all?

                      Please go and read the four articles linked in this post here.  Then you’ll know something about the harm caused by standards.

                    • insider


                      you said that doing ‘harm’ was a determinant for not following govt policy. Given that kids fail (1 in 5 is the number I see bandied about) under the current system, where do you draw the line? Are police, immigration, Winz and NZDF staff all allowed to abandon policy as well? And why is haven’t teachers been rebelling about the harm they have been forced to commit till now?

                      I’ve dealt with plenty of workplace policies I;ve thought are stupid and ineffective, even damaging to the business, but ultimately if you are going to take the Queen’s shilling, you have to fall in line or get out. I don’t see too many principals resigning on principle.

                    • r0b []

                      Did you read those linked articles yet – yes or no?

                    • insider

                      I gave them a quick skim – one’s about the UK where they apparantly have a curriculum allowing far less creative freedom than us, so not really relevant; the other is Hattie saying NS could be really good but ‘be careful’, which is appropriate, and says teachers could act unprofessionally, which is a worry; the other involves standardised testing, which is not part of NS – are you saying we should now get rid of PAT tests?

                      but I’m not actually arguing with you that some have serious concerns about NS…

                • Mark M

                  I agree with your line of thinking Rob.
                  Next time I get caught speeding Ill tell the cop that I dont accept the law because its damaging .
                  In fact why obey laws at all .
                  Your thinking demonstrates the lefts problem.
                  A belief your intellect exceeds that of others , and therefore over rules the majorities ,elected representatives.

                  Tolley has won this battle and good on her

                  • fabregas4

                    Mark with all due disrespect you are quite limited in your thinking with this analogy.

                    What every expert (read not Pete George) is trying to tell us is that NS is like the government telling you and everyone else to drive at 200kms per hour. They know that it will cause harm but tell you too anyway. You decide to say no to this and indeed get expert advice and form a group saying 100kms is better and safer and a more proven way of doing things but they insist – is that ok? Would you break the law then? Would you be concerned? Or would you simply say its the law and the government knows best. Don’t be a wank please.

              • freedom

                The establishment and integration of policy is based on a subtle and often overlooked principle that if people do not like a policy the Government should look at changing it.

                The shift in Education policy which led to the development of the current system of School Boards, is a clear example of how the wishes of people change Government policy.

                I trust the Boards to be a fair indicator of a policy’s worth and acceptance within Schools. The occassional and regrettable failure of a Board, as we are currently being told of in Upper Hutt, does not diminish the validity of their concerns. A nationwide public referendum of the Boards seems a natural resolution to the dillema facing Tolley et al.

                And as for polls, well i have an efficeint incinerator you are welcome to come make use of. The only poll that counts is the one when everyone is asked. The question for the poll in November is simple. Do you trust your neighbour to save NZ or sell it out?

          • fabregas4

            From the same article

            “However, just 11.9 per cent said they had “a full understanding” of the policy; 61.8 per cent said they had a partial understanding, and 26.2 per cent admitted not understanding it.

            87% of your 73% don’t understand what they like! As time has passed and understanding about the standards policy has grown the ‘Like it’ category has plummeted. Last estimates, admittedly as scientific as the poll you quote Pete, has the like its at 48%.

            Hate to get all Godwin’s Law on you but yes there are times when it is right to not obey the law (you can work that out). Locally Springbok tour springs to mind.

        • sophie

          I am on a school Board. We are definately not in favour of National Standards but when it came down to it, we were hesitant about putting our heads above the parapet because we have a new Prinicpal who is also a first time Principal (and is anti the Standards as well) and we didn’t want to make life difficult for her in terms of the Ministry. We gritted our teeth and reluctantly included them in our charter. I know of many other schools who feel the same way we do.

          • Rob

            Good point Sophie, how many people engaging in this debate have children at school.

            • felix

              Probably quite a few, but an irrelevant question anyhow.

              Did you actually read what sophie wrote?

              • Rob

                Yes I did Felix, I am commenting on the fact that there does not seem to be many parents commenting on this issue on this site. For me and my family and a lot of people in our community we have talked about this issue a lot and it was a point that people have voted for, whether you as an individual like it or not.

                I really want to know how the school that I am considering sending my children to performs across a national measure. I also want to know how they are performing when my children are present. In the last 3 way meeting we had , parent + teacher + child we are starting to get a lot more clarity on what is performing to a standard and what is not. I just cannot see why that is such a bad idea. And not one opponent to this issue has been able to rationally explain why it is so wrong.

                • felix

                  “I am commenting on the fact that there does not seem to be many parents commenting on this issue on this site.”

                  Fact? Please demonstrate.

                  Even if that were true, wtf does it have to do with sophie’s comment?

                  • Rob

                    Of course I dont have the demographic data to point the numbers out. Really I was just commenting that I had not read much about peoples direct school experiences. It does differ quite considerable to discussions I have had with parents and some teachers that can point to a direct experience on these programmes, ok Felix, so keep your hair on dude.

                    The ‘wtf does it have to do with Sophies comment’ is that she mentioned her own school community OK, which is a different slant than most of the discussion has been about.

                    • felix

                      Sorry Rob, I’m still looking for the “fact” you spoke of.

                      All I see is an “I reckon”.

                • framu

                  “fact that there does not seem to be many parents commenting on this issue on this site”

                  – theres nothing factual in that at all – your making assumptions.

                  “And not one opponent to this issue has been able to rationally explain why it is so wrong.”

                  then you havent been paying attention. theres been numerous discussions, across many forms of media, including many blog sites both pro and con on national standards. Some rational, some emotive.

                  If your really saying that your completely unaware of the quite rational discussions of why NS is a bad idea (or a good one) then how could you and your community make an informed decision about whether they are good or not?

                  thats not a dig at you – im really interested in how you decided NS was good when you dont seem to understand why others think they arent

                  • Rob

                    I have been paying attention, you in fact missed my point that we have implemented it and we are happy with it. Whats your point?

                    • framu

                      how on earth could i have missed your point (re: your decision on NS) when my question to you is entirely based around how you came to that decision?

                      your argument at the moment is kinda going like this..

                      you – “i dont beleive in motorbikes”

                      me – “really? theres quite a few of them around. it would seem you havent been paying attention. What makes you disbelieve in motorbikes?”

                      you – “no ive been paying attention, you didnt hear me when i said i dont believe in motorbikes”

                • Hi Rob,

                  My daughter goes to a school that has a ‘special character’ which is in exact opposition to the philosophy underpinning National Standards. The teachers – certainly my daughter’s teacher – are opposed, I’m opposed, my wife is opposed, the bulk of parents are opposed … but, the school has had to cave-in for all sorts of ‘pragmatic’ reasons.

                  If the school were also to follow the National Standards ‘spirit’, rather than do its best just to meet it’s ‘letter, then our daughter would no longer be getting the education that we chose for her. All so that other parents (you?) can judge their child against mine.

                  Sorry, I don’t want to play that game with my child. 

            • freedom

              hey Rob, firstly Sophie does not mention anything about parents and there are many Board members around the country who do not have children, or may not have children at that particular School.

              Secondly, take the second part of your comment and shove it brother. I am sick to the back teeth of being told those without children don’t matter in this debate (and many others).

              Seriously man, what the hell is a community to you? How do you think Schools function? Do you know a Teacher without kids? Do they get to have an opinion?

              If you are an older citizen, do you get to have a say on Education? If you tragically have lost a child, are you verboten? Maybe you are still quite young and leaving it a bit, do you get a say in your little dystopia?

            • Colonial Viper

              Good point Sophie, how many people engaging in this debate have children at school.

              yeah, and don’t count the ones with kids but are on the DPB, they don’t count for nothin’

              Hey Rob, did you know you can be a paediatric specialist without ever having children yourself?

              Who wudda thunk, genius?

          • higherstandard

            Hi Sophie

            I’m also on a school board – we implemented the guidelines as per the ministry requirements in our case this was not very onerous as the regular reports provided by the school we’re not too dissimilar to the Ministry’s NS reporting requirements.

  2. JS 2

    Just watch out for the re-elected government imposing charter/academy schools, or private unaccountable schools with public money. Been done in the US and UK and the new head of Min of Ed has a background in the academy schools movement. Of course terrible for teaching and learning but good for anti-teacher ideology.

    • Ianupnorth 2.1

      Correct, as per my comment above, purely a ‘nail the teachers’ ideology!

    • framu 2.2

      correct me if im wrong here – but didnt national, act or someone else linked to them put out a document that stated a set of steps to achieve the privatisation of education?

      Step one being – national standards?
      step 2 – league tables
      step 3 – performance based pay
      step 4 – education vouchers

      Any one know anything about this?

      • Ianupnorth 2.2.1

        Well that model (up to step three) has been done in the USA, up to step two in the UK and Australia.

    • Fermionic Interference 3.1

      Hi grumps
      just a few points:

      1, Nat standards are aimed at primary schools that story is referring to a secondary school.
      although the response was disgraceful from the board, this doesn’t reflect all boards in the country.

      2, anecdotal evidence of pressure from above on schools:
      There is a primary school in NZ that was forced to accept a student onto their role who has a
      serious history of assault on other students and teachers. The argument to the minister & ministry
      was that they don’t have the staffing levels, or funding to provide constant supervision to a child
      who poses a serious threat to other students and the teachers.
      Now this information whilst true can never be proved for privacy reasons.
      The Board and the Principal acted in the best interests of their staff and students to protect them
      and was unable to do so, now if there occurs a major breakdown with this student where will the
      responsibility be placed? The minister/ministry or the school?

      3, Below is a link to an article on the Finnish school system and it’s priorities. PISA (Programme
      for International Student Achievement) the Finnish system regularly comes out at the top, why?
      Because they focus on education not tests, if you are highly educated you will most likely do
      well in a test, but if you are taught to a test’s contents then you can only pass that test.
      Simple isn’t it, and this is a very small part of why nat standards are a bad direction for NZ’s
      education system.


  3. JS 4

    The very conservative School Trustees Assn was a cheerleader for bulk funding in the 90s although many school boards opposed it. However, they have been a lot quieter recently in their support for national standards as they realise the majority of their board members have serious reservations.

    • ianmac 4.1

      Yes. Noticed that JS. Their Chair of STA was very loud and aggressive in support a year or so ago. She said that about 85% of BOT supported NS. When challenged she confessed that only 12 schools out of 2,000 had responded. Same sort of reasoning as Anne Tolley.
      Now STA Chair has been very subdued.

  4. ianmac 5

    By the way my example about surgeons @ 11:36 was fiction but was trying to illustrate the point for Pete because he might need surgery one day and would want the best practice for his tummy tuck.

    • Is “fiction” often used to illustrate points here? That could explain a lot.

      Maybe you can explain to felix why answers to his demanded yes/no questions might be justifiably qualified. It’s prudent to be cautious when there are fictional characters around.

      • freedom 5.1.1

        this might help you Pete, 🙂
        but there are some big words to deal with, some have more then two syllables, sorry

        • Pete George

          I wonder why I said “if it is as he describes”.

          BTW – analogies are not usually written to look like they are factual, nor do they usually include false attributions like “Pete George says, of course Surgeons should do as they are told and refused any debate about the merits of the Policy.”

      • ianmac 5.1.2

        The surgeon fiction is relevant because you refuse to discuss the merits or otherwise of NS. Would you be so unconcerned if it was you that was to be operated on? You say they must obey Govt Policy but won’t engage in discussion of that policy.

        Funny thing is Tomorrows Schools was a means of getting the school community to decide and determine direction. With one NS as a fatal policy, this Govt has totally undermined that. (With your help Pete.)

        • Pete George

          You’re making things up about me again. I haven’t helped this Govt at all with National Standards, I haven’t been involved with them at all.

          And I haven’t been arguing for or against National Standards here, it’s not something I’ve taken a particular love or hate stand on. I’ve had reservations about them and the way they have been implemented but I haven’t felt a need to take sides.

          I was talking to a senior tertiary administrator last week who thought Tolley hadn’t done too badly.

          If you think the schools should decide and determine direction do you think bulk funding and more flexibility over pay levels and hiring and removing staff would be good?

      • felix 5.1.3

        “Maybe you can explain to felix why answers to his demanded yes/no questions might be justifiably qualified. “

        Jeez Pete, that was your own question asked back to you to illustrate it’s stupidity.

        You really get quite lost quite fast, don’t you dearie.

    • Ianupnorth 5.2

      The irony is that Tolley has had gastric banding!

  5. ianmac 6

    @insider “The better one would be that the govt imposed on DHBs a requirement to report on the number successful and unsuccessful operations, deaths, waiting lists etc. Actually, that is something govts have been doing uncontroversially for years.”

    That is true but what if the data was not clearly defined? Dead is dead. Successful operations? Mmmm. Depends.
    Waiting lists: Do you count the ones who are waiting at the door, or the ones who have asked the doctor for help, or have seen a specialist or just a guess at the answers.
    You see the information would be useless unless there was credible clearly defined and agreed definition of who was on waiting lists. As for collating if the data was flawed, what a waste of time that would be!
    So do National Standards have clearly defined, agreed, universally compatible and useful outcomes? No. Could they harm children. Yes.

    • Could operations harm children?

      Of course National Standards could “harm” some children. And they could benefit some. It depends on whether the benefits outweigh the harms.

      • ianmac 6.1.1

        Who would benefit from National Standards Pete?
        Remember that Anne Tolley already knows that 20% are underachieving. We already know who they are. And you knew when you were at school.
        So who will benefit Pete?

        • Pete George

          So you know that not changing anything will continue to harm 20%?

          I doubt that National Standards is aimed at them, it’s more for parents who want to know how their kids are doing. Most of the parents or caregivers of the 20% of underachievers probably don’t care, that’s a major part of the problem. Maybe we need National Standards for parenting.

          • Colonial Viper

            Maybe we need National Standards for parenting.


            Start by making expectant rich parents take licensing exams. I hear that a lot of their kids have been going off the rails lately, drug abuse, alcohol abuse etc.

          • Fermionic Interference

            Answer the question man. Who will benefit?

            (Side note) Yes it’s true that a supportive home environment is a great help in the educational/learning arena. But this is a distraction from the point!! you are evading.

            Considering that the teachers already knew who these students are, why not provide extra resources to help these children, ie; extra funding for reading recovery (which is a proven programme) and not cutting the mathematics profesional development programs.

            Because funding more reading recovery and profesional development programs works why cut the funding?

          • Ianupnorth

            Pete George, I’ll put this to you in a manner you may understand; if you have a car and it has four tyre and a spare in the boot each = 20%. If you manage to puncture one tyre, or wear one out so it has no tread, you know which one you need to replace and or fix. Not doing the ‘fix’ means you risk not only destroying that tyre completely, but the success for the other four tyres (because if you have a blow out you will crash and damage the car)
            In schools the teachers know which 20% are at risk – if the school is unable to fix that 20% (because they lack resources) guess what, you risk damaging the other 80%.
            The schools aren’t asking for the 20% to be replaced, there is a lack of support to assist that 20% to attain at the same level!

            • Pete George

              Ian, I’m aware of problems with the bottom however many % and I agree that National Standards won’t get anywhere near addressing the bottom end, I had presumed that wasn’t the focus of NS. The majority of parents whose kids are mostly doing ok do want reassurance that their kids are doing ok, and it will do that to an extent.

              I spent several hours on Saturday with an intermediate level counsellor which gave me further insight into the difficult problems at schools. I’m well aware of the resource issues, we were fundraising together to raise money to increase what they are doing.

              You could contribute if you like: chatbus.org.nz

      • tc 6.1.2

        Ahh the defender of the realm’s having a busty day today I see with the CT song book close at hand.

    • insider 6.2


      by saying NS could harm children, are you saying that the current system is harmless? Can you define ‘harm’ and to whom? Because I have a real problem with people presenting NS as an ethical issue yet seemingly accepting for years and years an ongoing 20% underachievement without questioning the ethics of the system.

      • ianmac 6.2.1

        insider. ( Actually Schooling itself is probably harmful to the innate curiosity of the young and their drive to learn. But that’s another story. 🙂 )
        The Minister has successful and falsely joined the two issues. Many think 20% fail so, National Standards identify and fix the failure. The two issues are disjoint.

        Anyway. Accept that for the last 50 years or so it has been well known not only who is below par, but why they are. The difficulty is that nowhere enough human and financial resources have been available to rectify the problems.

        Those at risk from National Standards are those who have their inadequacies sharply defined to parents. These kids become even more disenchanted with teachers and school. What might otherwise have been progress at a pace appropriate to the ability of said child, becomes failure for all to see.
        The existing assessments are very precise in identifying the stage each child is at and given resources, time, and teacher support the “tail” could be reduced. Teachers tell me for example, that in classes of 28+ kids they know who is in need but they get buried in task of managing the whole class.
        How about classes of say 19-20 kids with 3 or 4 underachievers working alongside successful learners? National Standards will not help this to happen.
        (My son was very slow as a 5 – 12 year old. He would have been marked as Not Achieved. He currently has a BA Hon and is working on his Masters. Pace is very different for different kids. Most don’t fit a National age related Standard. Never have.)

        • insider

          thanks ian.

          The guidance to teachers says they are to guide development and that children should not be labelled as failures for being below the standard. A good teacher shouldn’t be calling them inadequate or giving parents that impression, just as they don’t now over stanines or PAT results. Are teachers going to be suddenly driven to be unprofessional?

          One of my kids is currently going through NS and I’ve found it very good. He is well above average on two (of course 😉 ) but not on a third, and knowing where he sits is really useful. I’ve found the NS reporting much clearer than the previous info used and he is motivated to achieve more. THe other child is less motivated and has never worried about ‘not achieved’. Some kids will worry, but is that any different today?

  6. Ed Aotearoa 7

    OK – for one, 20% of students ARE NOT failing – that’s some evil spin created to play on parental fears and win votes. Here’s the facts – 16% of students don’t pass NCEA level 2 – of whom 2-3% have severe disabilities (can’t hold a spoon, let along a pencil); 7-8% can pass but are choosing not to turn up to final exams (a whole other issue); which leaves around 7-8% who really aren’t passing (figures from Terry Crooks, emeritus professor of ed from Otago Uni).
    Second point – standards regimes are part of the “education reform” movement which has been doing the rounds in US, UK and Aust for the last 20 years or so. In these countries, under these reforms, student achievement levels have fallen (see PISA results), NZ way outperforms these countries.
    Educators follow these developments and know that high-stakes testing regimes undermine student learning – its complicated, which is unfortunately why politicians can tell half-truths, play on parental fears, and run a corporate agenda in public education.
    Third point – National Standards involve a lot of student testing, and they’ll become even more high-stakes when we get league tables and performance pay – should Ms Tolley and ACT return next year.
    Fourth point – teachers are by nature mild mannered, law-abiding types – but they will go that extra mile when student learning is at stake. Too right, they’ll retreat for now, in order to fight another day on behalf of our teachers. Go teachers!

    • insider 7.1

      What tests are required under national standards?

      • ianmac 7.1.1

        Insider. The task is to match existing tests to National Standards rather than use new tests. The problem is that the NS are very vague, ill defined, and so open to interpretation that they become meaningless. When forced to publish those measurements against NS heaven help the kids or their schools.
        (I met an Australian teacher who was taking her sabbatical after 6 months of trying to identify standard of the performance of children in their written work from samples sent from all round Australia. Even with intense training she had received, she found that because of so many variables, that the job was impossible. She resigned after 6 months. Imagine a busy NZ classroom teacher trying to do that with the very loose ill defined criteria that they have under NS. What a waste!)

        • fabregas4

          I’ve done this. Two things. One: you can spend of unproductive time discussing whether a piece of writing is 1i or 1ii – it simply doesn’t matter rather it is using the work to identify next steps which does and this doesn’t happen at a point in time but instead all the time. Two: There is some merit in the discussions in that it increases teachers ability to find those next steps. One more thing – NS has nothing to do with One or Two.

  7. Ed Aotearoa 8

    children are now being repeatedly tested by way of norm-referenced nationally moderated systems (astle, STAR, PATs, etc), which teachers had been using for ‘assessment for learning’ purposes, but which ministry staff are now desperately trying to align with National Standards, ie children are being labelled on standards which currently do not align with reliable testing methods

  8. Given that kids fail (1 in 5 is the number I see bandied about) under the current system…

    “Fail” at what? The bottom 20% is the bottom 20%, no matter how skilled the teachers or how rigorously defined the national standards are. I’d love to see a journalist ask Tolley or Key exactly how they aim to prevent the existence of a bottom 20% of performance among school pupils. If they were to succeed, it would certainly revolutionise mathematics and guarantee them a Nobel prize each, but until then they should drop the bullshit propaganda about schools failing 20% of children.

    • felix 9.1

      Reckon you can explain that to John “100% compared to other countries” Key?

    • insider 9.2

      @ milt

      I think it’s a bit like safety in the workplace. We all know hand on hearts that no matter how much we say ‘safety first’ or ‘zero injuries’ etc, that some people will probably always be injured and even die at work, no matter how well run. But you can never say that it is acceptable/recognised that X% will not go home at night. So they can never say it’s ok that some kids fail, even though we know some are incapable of achieving certain basic skills becuase they are just not built that way.

  9. Ed Aotearoa 10

    Insider – I have to say this, you sound so smug and middle-class. I’m sure your darlings are doing absolutely splendidly, but actually your darlings aren’t the ones who are being damaged.
    I’ve spoken with experienced teachers who no matter what language they use to couch ‘failing’ – as ‘working towards’ or clever little graphic ladders that show the children on the way – they and their parents know right away what it means – ‘failing’ and that’s how they see it, ‘I’m failing aren’t I’ – and these aren’t your lovely little darlings from Karori or Herne Bay, these are kids from violent homes, without enough to eat, who don’t go to the doctor – you and your kind might just as well spit in their faces, and give them a good kick while they down, because there’s not one scrap of empathy coursing through your veins. sorry to be so blunt, but i’ve seen these children – fragile, vulnerable, not sure what they’ve done wrong, but it must be something – and your kind are doing in them in all over again

    • insider 10.1

      don’t be a toss pot Ed and learn how to use threads.

    • ianmac 10.2

      And we somehow have to identify the underachieving kids as different from those who have special intellectual needs. That is that in every society there are people who will never achieve basic literacy whereas the underachiever are the ones who should achieve with careful support, resources and not branding them as failures. (More than half 75% ? of those in prison can’t read, write or do basic math. Underachievers? Otherwise they wouldn’t be there and could have joined the huge number of clever folk who might be criminals but never get caught.)
      I guess Insider is not the one to convince the down side of NS. It is the parent body.

    • insider 10.3

      Sorry Ed i meant to add to leave out the petty insults. (noting I did one myself)

      Are you saying no assessment whatsoever, ever of poor kids? That they are incapable of being motivated? Isn’t that a bit patronising? I’m confused as to what your point is.

      Of course kids are intuitive and will make judgements of themselves. Why is it only poor kids that do that and suddenly get a good kick? Can other kids not feel fragile. Years ago they would have got an F or a D? Assessment is not something NS has invented and ‘working towards’ is something that has been in place for years. It’s not a NS term. So why object to them now?

  10. Ed Aotearoa 11

    Insider (sorry haven’t worked out threads) – assessment for learning has been going on in schools for about the last 10 years – it works, educators like it – it’s part of why we’re one of the top ranking education systems in the world, and why our tail isn’t as long as in the US or UK.
    Of course poor kids can be motivated, but telling them they’re failing does not actually motivate them – surprise surprise. It might motivate some well-fed happy kid – I can do better than that – but a kid who just got beaten up by their step-dad that morning – no. Teachers are now required by law to tell them they are failing (and whatever language you use, kids and parents will work it out – i’m not up to standard) – so they can add that to the bruises.
    Fs and Ds haven’t been used in primary school for something like a century – why would that be??? Let’s think hard now – they don’t motivate students!
    Hey, but don’t worry about those little poor kids being told they failures, because by the time they’re 9 or 10 they start to get angry, 13 or 14 – violent crime, 18 or 19 – jail, all safe and sound.
    The tragedy being that if you get then at 5 and really work with them, as teachers are, you can turn them around – but it’s that telling them they’re failing, it’s a problem. Oh, and the $60m that’re being sucked up by Nat Stds and the $50m that’s gone to private schools and the lack of resources available to teachers in low decile schools … (yes, they get extra decile funding but it’s a long long way short of what’s needed to turn around very deep social problems)

  11. Pascal's bookie 12

    Same ol’ thing with various peeps not understanding civil disobedience.

    If someone doesn’t want to do something the state says they must do, (anything at all), then they have a natural right not to do it. That’s just common sense. They can just not do it.

    The fact that it might be illegal, or bad form, or whatever else doesn’t change that fact.

    The state has a legal right to then react.

    This is the whole fucking point of civil disobedience.

    No one engaged in CD will dispute that they are disobeying the state, or that the state has legal options.

    But so many righties just throw their hands in the air and start whimpering that OMG people aren’t doing as they’re told, like it’s the end of fucking society or something.

    Get a grip people. Read some books. Have a bit of a fucking think or something.

  12. Georgy 13

    The quote Tolley provided to National Radio this morning was the most blatant, dishonest piece of spin I have heard fro a very long time.

    Every National Party MP should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    • tc 13.1

      Shouldn’t of been read out, if she doesn’t have the front to show up and be interviewed then say so and move on. RNZ are under the thumb thanks to some canny nat appointments. Yet another soapbox.

  13. vanakast 14

    Ahhh the left is never consistent at all in education. It hates the idea of implementing choice for parents – of where their kids can go (see ACTs proposal) but simultaneously hates the government intervening or legislating in other areas. Always out to kiss the union’s backsides, rather than improve educational outcomes.

  14. chris73 15

    Ann Tolley wins, that must stick in your craws

    • lprent 15.1

      The french and US ‘won’ in Vietnam several times. Bush proclaimed mission accomplished in Iraq how many years ago?

      Winning battles dies not constitute winning a war, and only gullible fool like yourself would think so.

      In this case Tolley has been using simple and rather stupid repression techniques against the school boards, principals and teachers that she requires to implement her idiotic national standards. So how well do you think that they will implement them?

      It isn’t like the MoE has exactly exerted themselves to explain the rationale behind National’s standards. Of course there in lies the problem. They could not really explain something that they did not understand. Their arguments came down to “the minister insists”. Of course they had to destroy the local autonomy of Tommorrows Schools to do it.

      It looks like a stupid solution in search of a problem – doesn’t it?

      In fact I’d guess that you cannot explain the rationale of the policy that you’re trying to support beyond some idiotic slogans. I haven’t seen a single ‘supporter’ of National’s standards explain what and how it is meant to achieve for months, and even when they did it before that it was with silly and meaningless phrases rather than actual thought.

      And that is how wars get lost…..

      • chris73 15.1.1

        No winning battles does not win a war however losing momentum certainly makes it harder

        I think they’ve seen the writing on the wall and are now going to try for a tactical surrender

        But no doubt you think they’re going to surprise everyone with a rearguard action to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

        • Dv

          OK what has been won.
          The schools are forced to put a statement in the charter!
          if the national standards are to work, then they must be supported by the teachers and the school, otherwise all you will have is box ticking!
          So far no one has addressed the moderation of the standards to ensure consistency across pupils, schools and time.

          There ia also a consistent theme that measureing will improove performance. Obviously you need to be able to identify those who need help, BUT the extra help is the key.

          There is also an assumption that the level 2 ncea level will improve, after the kids who have come through standard reach that level. It may be true , it may not be.

          Another theme is the incompentent teacher theme and this will sort them out. BUT these are the teachers who are making the judgements.

          Alot of these issues could have been dealt with a trial instead of forcing it through ugency in parliment.

          I have been associated with teaching and school for a long time, and this is with out doubt the most incompentent attempt at change implementation i have ever seen.

  15. Griffo 16

    The other night I resigned from the bot of my local school. My experience in the field of education is fairly varied, with time on both sides of the chalkface as it were. This education system is one of the cleverest in the world, and it is self improving. I am very proud of our school, in fact I have good reasons to believe that it is the best primary school in the district, but the bot has been forced by the government, through the moe to include national standards, and I can’t in good conscience be a party to such foolishness. I do believe in national normative testing, as we have used for some years now, and a wonderful tool it is, when used in it’s place.
    There are a variety of reasons why NS is bad for the education system, such as:
    Stratification of the system with league tables
    Publication of students’ achievements in the public sphere
    Unrealistic comparisons between unlike schools
    Unrealistic comparisons between unlike students
    Unreasonable influence over the way teachers teach
    Unattainable goals
    Disempowerment of bots and there communities
    Starting points are ignored
    Cultural learning is ignored
    True individuality is supressed
    Students whose learning style is not “normal” are disenfranchised
    Lack of early success dooms the student to long term failure
    Long term loss of flexibility in the populations mentality
    Creation of an even more pyramidal society
    And on
    And on
    The only other countries that use this system, worldwide, are Australia, the USA, and Great Britain. The Aussies are delusional, the Americans are falling fast, and the battles have started on the streets of England. In fact just today I read of strong reports coming out of England that teachers are upgrading test results and dropping the hard stuff to get the “achievements” that are demanded. No one in the press connected this with the mistake that this government is shoving down our throats
    I haven’t met an educationalist who even remotely supports this.
    I haven’t met an Englishman that supports this.
    Same for the Aussies.
    The young Americans shake their heads in despair when you ask about it.
    The politicians who introduced this stupidity are acting on one of two impulses.
    The first is that they were told what to do by their philosophical masters, or
    Two, it was a quick grab of a policy that was different to the Labour party, and seemed like an easy do. You take your pick.
    Please don’t force the schooling of our children to take a backward step.

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