Home' The Wellingtonian : November 10th 2011 Contents 14 THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 10, 2011
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Battle with Ministry
of Education hots up
By EMMA BEER
Island Bay School is at
loggerheads with the Ministry of
The school's principal, Perry
Rush, said the ministry had not
followed correct procedure in a
dispute over national standards,
and an official complaint had
been laid with the Ombudsman.
Mr Rush, who leads the oppo-
sition to national standards,
said the ministry had not com-
pleted negotiations with the
school after it had submitted a
charter with targets not set,
against national standards.
Education minister Anne
Tolley said that as at November
4 there were 11 schools that had
done this with their charters.
Mr Rush said schools chose to
do so after deciding they had no
confidence in the national
This meant the schools had
broken the law.
Given this, after a period of
time, the government, under
law, had to negotiate with the
boards. If boards still refused to
include national standards, the
ministry could impose targets on
them, Mr Rush said.
Ms Tolley confirmed that was
the case. The secretary for edu-
cation has the power to amend
targets included in the charter,''
However, Mr Rush said that
could happen only if the minis-
try had negotiated with the
board. Now, that didn't happen
for us, in our view. We've taken
a complaint to the Ombudsmen
and they are investigating it.''
Ms Tolley said two schools
had made complaints to the
Ombudsman regarding the
Mr Rush said appropriate
negotiations should be a meet-
ing, not just the phone call that
had occurred. The meeting
would not be with just the prin-
cipal or the board chair, but the
This school is governed by a
board of trustees. Legally,
decisions can only be made by
the full board of trustees.
The whole board has not met
with the ministry. Negotiation
has not taken place.''
When asked to explain the
negotiation process, Ms Tolley
said: That is an operational
matter for the ministry.''
Mr Rush leads the opposition
of about 400 schools in New Zea-
land that have said they do not
support the Government's
implementation of national
standards in primary schools.
Ms Tolley had held her line on
the issue, he said.
She's sought to say, No,
we're not going to engage in any
compromise, any collaboration
to try to resolve their issues. We
expect these standards to be in
She has used the threat of
statutory intervention in schools
to do that.''
About six weeks ago the com-
munity of opposition decided not
to place boards at risk of having
that occur, Mr Rush said. Our
recommendation was that
boards submit charters with
national standards targets and
include a disclaimer to make it
clear to the ministry that the
board had no confidence in the
To test or not to test
By EMMA BEER
National standards have been
developed to avoid the problems
encountered in other countries
which use national tests.
National testing will not be intro-
duced to primary schools, says Edu-
cation Minister Anne Tolley.
There have been suggestions from
some education commentators that
before the election National might
slip in plans for the introduction of
national testing. Then, if National
wins on November 26, it would be
able to claim it had a mandate for
Ms Tolley said this week there was
testing would be
mooted by the
before the elec-
to avoid the
problems encountered in other
countries which use national tests,''
Island Bay School principal Perry
Rush, who has led the charge against
the controversial introduction of
national standards, said he thought
everyone would be highly surprised''
if National was to slip in national
testing before the election.
They are absolutely on record as
saying no national testing; that's not
However, he said he was aware
the Ministry of Education was work-
ing towards finding a way of getting
national standards more reliable.
One of the only effective ways of
doing that is to find certain tests or
assessment tools that can be
definitively linked to a standard.
So, national testing -- no. How-
ever, you could see shades of grey,
pseudo-national testing in behind
these standards at some point.''
Ms Tolley said there were no tests
because children were assessed
throughout the year.
To support teachers, and to help
improve consistency of judgements,
the Ministry of Education is provid-
ing a range of support for schools.
These include the publication of a
range of moderation modules and
case studies illustrating good
practices, the provision of targeted
an online moder-
ation facility to
to share assess-
and build a
standing of the
standards,'' she said.
Mr Rush said one of the biggest
issues with national standards was
that they were not standardised.
They are woolly and fuzzy, and
teachers bring their interpretation of
what the standard is, and it's not
So in every school, in every
region, right around New Zealand,
there is a different set of understand-
ing about what constitutes the
standards, and yet all of that infor-
mation will be sucked into the Min-
istry of Education and will no doubt
end up in a newspaper, with parents
assuming that the raw data they are
seeing can be compared.''
Ms Tolley said moderation played
a large role in the standardisation of
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