Whose Standards?

Congratulations to the Auckland Primary Principals’ Associationon their recommendation that its members cease to attend any training around the implementation of the National Standards. APPA believes that the government’s National Standards policy is irreconcilably flawed, confused and unworkable. The standards are not in fact standards and therefore cannot be moderated to provide valid, reliable and consistent achievement data.
On 2 July, 500 principals at the New Zealand Principals’ Federationconference in Queenstown added their voices, sending a clear message to the Minister via three remits declaring they believe the National Standards will not deliver intended outcomes, they want a complete and urgent review of the system and they support regions looking to boycott National Standards training. The APPA decision adds to the stand taken against implementing the Standards by schools in Tai Tokerau (Northland) and Invercargill. Since the APPA announcement, the Southland and Canterbury Principals’ Associations have joined Auckland’s decision.

On 6 July, a hui of more than 200 Māori educators in Rotorua, attending the annual hui of Te Reo Areare – the Māori Council of the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa, issued a strong vote of no confidence in National Standards, saying they will damage the learning of tamariki Māori.

Our Board’s stance is clear. The Board of Trustees and staff of both schools:

  • supported the NZEI call for a trial before the implementation of National Standards proceeds
  • were signatories to the NZEI School Communities appeal to the Prime Minister
  • were signatories to the official NZEI petition to Parliament campaigning for a trial
  • hosted the NZEI Bus Tour for the Otara community – other schools, our BOT and staff, and community members attended

– and are against the implementation of National Standards because they:

  • do not represent a Māori or Pasifika world view and therefore disadvantage our Māori and Pasifika students
  • come from a dominant Pakeha ideology and hegemony, which will perpetuate the marginalisation and ‘ghettoising’ of our Māori and Pasifika students and further negate their cultural competencies and identities
  • are contrary to the goals and design of the National Curriculum, which our two schools support due to its alignment with our practice and developed learning model, and for its flexibility to be specific to our community.
  • will distort a balanced curriculum approach by requiring schools to focus on the Standards to the exclusion of other learning. This distortion will be particularly evident in low-decile, Māori and Pasifika schools such as ours are untested
  • will not solve the issues of underachievement
  • will undermine students’ identities as learners and label some children as failures from a very early age
  • have been driven by distorted data gathered and interpreted with flawed methodology
  • have been implemented without consultation with educators or communities
  • will result in league tables which will again disadvantage schools in low-decile, Māori and Pasifika communities nationally
  • have failed when implemented in other countries

The current BOT position is to delay any implemention of, or teacher professional development in, National Standards until these issues and our serious concerns about the effect of National Standards on our students is addressed through; thorough consultation with community and professional educators; professional development of teachers; adequate resourcing for students identified; the standards are responsive to Māori and Pasifika worldviews; and a process is determined that prevents the development of league tables using the data.
Te Whānau o Tupuranga and Clover Park Middle School will continue to discuss the issues with parents and:

  • benchmark students’ learning outcomes and progress against national norms through the use of resources already readily available in schools
  • use these resources to supplement and provide comparisons with school-based assessment resources
  • report this achievement to parents in plain language which gives parents reliable information about their child’s progress against national benchmarks
  • continue to report on, and discuss with parents and whānau, equally important learning outcomes based on cultural identity, cultural knowledges and competencies, home language/s, relationships, and all aspects of learning ‘as’ Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Islands Māori, or who you are. These are not included, and not valued, in the required national standards.