27 Jan 2010

Tolley determined to introduce national standards

10:59 pm on 27 January 2010

The union representing primary school teachers hopes the Education Minister will now have more time to consult widely about the introduction of national standards in schools.

But Anne Tolley, who has lost her responsibility for tertiary education, says the time for consultation is over.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister John Key relieved Mrs Tolley of her tertiary education portfolio, giving the role to Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

Mrs Tolley says the reason for the move is to allow her more time to focus on introducing national standards for literacy and numeracy in primary schools this year.

"There's about 150,000 kids failing in our education system every year. They are relying on us to get this national standards policy well implemented so that they can have a fair chance of good education and therefore all the options in life that that gives them.

"It's a critically important policy for the National Party."

The president of the New Zealand Educational Institute, Frances Nelson, says there are many issues that need to be resolved before the standards are introduced.

Ms Nelson says now that the minister has been relieved of part of her portfolio, the NZEI hopes it will give Mrs Tolley an opportunity to spend more time with those issues and with the people that can actually make a difference.

But Mrs Tolley says she consulted widely in 2009 and this year the Government is determined to introduce the standards.

The Labour Party says the decision to assign the tertiary education portfolio to another minister is a clear sign that Mrs Tolley is not coping.

Education spokesperson Trevor Mallard says Mrs Tolley is struggling, despite a relatively light workload.

However, Mrs Tolley told Morning Report she is on top of her responsibilities and believes Mr Key's decision to entrust her with implementing the national standards in schools is a vote of confidence in her abilities.