1 Feb 2010

PM reassures Sharples over education standards

7:46 pm on 1 February 2010

Prime Minister John Key has met with the Associate Education Minister to reassure him about the Government's new national standards in numeracy and literacy.

The standards are to be introduced in primary and intermediate schools from Tuesday, but some sector groups remain opposed to this.

When legislation to implement the standards was passed more than a year ago, Maori Party co-leader and Associate Education Minister Pita Sharples voted in support of the bill.

However, speaking on Waatea News on Monday morning, Dr Sharples voiced his concerns about the effect the new policy will have on Maori education.

"I just have a grave fear that it will repercuss in many ways - not only parents picking and choosing schools, but it'll mean some schools are going to be low in support from the community, they're going to lose roll numbers, teachers won't go there - all sorts of things could happen."

The Prime Minister says he has spoken with Dr Sharples on Monday, whose main concern was about league tables and that parents might choose schools based on false information.

Mr Key says such information will not be released until 2012, and by then the Government will make sure it is presented accurately.

Union calls for rethink

The primary teachers union, the NZEI, is calling on the Government to halt the introduction of national standards.

A spokesperson for NZEI, Laures Park, says Dr Sharples' comments are politically significant and should force a government policy rethink.

Ms Park says many in the education sector opposed to the introduction of the standards see Dr Sharples' comments as supporting their stance.

The NZEI is calling for an urgent meeting between Dr Sharples and Education Minister Anne Tolley to discuss the fresh concerns.