2 Jul 2010

Tolley speech only riles principals even more

10:05 pm on 2 July 2010

Education Minister Anne Tolley has been unable to silence increasingly vocal opposition from principals to the national standards in reading, writing and maths.

Ms Tolley spoke to the Principals Federation conference in Queenstown on Friday, urging principals to work with her on the standards.

Before she spoke, three regional principals' associations - Auckland, Southland and Franklin - were boycotting the national standards training. As soon as she had finished, the Canterbury association joined them.

Predicting that more would follow, Canterbury association president Denise Torrey said Mrs Tolley did not address principals' concerns

The federation had earlier asked to re-engage with the minister over the issue, and its leaders hope to make progress with her. But it is sticking with resolutions that say the standards are flawed and supporting associations that boycott the training.

Mrs Tolley says while she doesn't agree with the boycott, it's the associations' call. They are not helping their students or their communities by doing so, she says.

'Still in development mode'

In her address, Mrs Tolley urged principals to co-operate with the new standards in reading, writing and maths, and not air their concerns through the media.

The standards are still in development mode, she said, so if principals continued to go along to training sessions they would be able to contribute to developing them.

Ms Tolley also reminded principals that other public servants are not allowed to comment in the media on government policy, but federation president Ernie Buutveld says principals are not bound by the code of conduct for public servants.

Mr Buutveld says principals will be meeting with government officials to detail their concerns over what they see as a mismatch between the new standards and the curriculum.