3 Feb 2010

Govt 'won't bow' to pressure over education standards

9:12 pm on 3 February 2010

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will not bow to pressure from unions over the implementation of national standards in schools.

From Tuesday, students in primary and intermediate schools will be assessed against national standards for numeracy and literacy.

Prime Minister John Key has announced a $200,000 mailout to 350,000 homes about national standards and says an expert committee will be set up to advise on any problems that occur during its implementation.

National MPs will also be sent around the country to hold public meetings on the issue.

Critics of the policy have called for trials in a limited number of schools before the policy goes nationwide.

Mr Key says the campaign is also intended to counter misinformation being circulated by some in the education sector out to protect their own interests.

The NZEI says Mr Key's comments are astounding. Union president Frances Nelson says Mr Key has got it wrong and the union has not made any misleading claims about the standards.

Government accused of double standard

The Principals Federation has accused the Government of double standards in allowing Maori immersion schools a consultation and trial period but not giving other schools the same opportunity.

President Ernie Buutveld says kura kaupapa schools are not being compelled to accept the national standards and English schools should not be either.

More than 6,000 children attend 73 kura kaupapa throughout the country.

Education Minister Anne Tolley has defended the Government's softer approach to the introduction of the standards in Maori schools.

Mrs Tolley says the Government recognises that Maori immersion courses are not a direct equivalent of the English curriculum and there is not the same evidence supporting the introduction of standards in kura kaupapa.

The Government says it expects national standards for Maori immersion schools to be in place next year.

Meanwhile, a Wellington principal who is in favour of the national standards says they relate well to the new curriculum.

Otari School principal Clifford Wicks told Morning Report he has had a united and positive response from his staff.