INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government pushing populist line

Published: Wed 22 Sep 1999 04:41 PM
Labour associate education spokesperson Steve Maharey said the Government was playing populist politics with a mish mash of plans for primary school assessment.
Steve Maharey said Labour supports the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) and will look at extending it, but said other aspects of National's announcement today smacked on pre-election preening rather than any genuine attempt to lift standards in schools.
"Labour carefully considered the idea of national testing, but we came to the conclusion that testing did not help children read and write better. In fact there was considerable evidence to show that it encouraged rote learning rather than good learning techniques.
"Earlier this year, Nick Smith was also opposed to a 'single standard assessment tool' saying that it went against school choice. Now he is planning to introduce testing but has no ideas of how the results would be used.
"Lifting the level of literacy in New Zealand is something all New Zealanders have a
an interest in. Yet rather than 'testing' children, Labour's education policy for schools has a number of initiatives to increase overall standards in schools. These include the establishment of voluntary homework centres particularly in low socio economic areas, re-examining the staffing ratios of small schools so that they better meet the needs of their children and ensuring that operation grants are increased in line with inflation so that schools can provide the necessary support to students.
"I can give no guarantee that the pilot programme proposed by Nick Smith will even get off the ground under a Labour Government," Steve Maharey said.

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