Educators applauding rollback of National Standards and charter schools

Teachers across the country are celebrating the scrapping of National Standards and are excited about the freedom to explore teaching practices and content that will genuinely meet every child’s needs, NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart told the Education and Workforce Select Committee.

The Education Amendment Bill proposes to end these two National Government policies, which were extremely unpopular with educators because of their negative impact on quality public education.

The Labour-led Government has already begun the process of dismantling National Standards, and Ms Stuart said it was a huge relief for NZEI’s members after years of resistance and advocacy.

“We’re so happy about this Bill. National Standards did nothing to lift student achievement – all it did was narrow the curriculum and force teachers to label children as “below standard” when they didn’t hit an arbitrary target at a certain point each year,” she said.

“Research shows this led to increased anxiety in children, but no overall lift in student achievement.”

“Teachers are delighted to see National Standards dumped. We’re looking forward to being able to embrace the entire curricula and build children’s capabilities from where their strengths lie, rather than being pressured to “accelerate” children towards arbitrary targets for reading, writing and maths.”

Ms Stuart said the end of the charter school experiment was also welcome.

“Our education system is already hugely diverse and most of these schools could have been established under the special character model, which is what most of them will now switch to.

“They were set up based on the flawed notion that competition and choice improves educational outcomes, and that the private sector can run schools better – even while they could hire unqualified teachers and the trustees could cream off large administrative payments from their generous operating grants,” she said.

Ms Stuart said kura kaupapa and bicultural options in mainstream schools made a huge difference for Māori and Pasifika students, and more funding should be going into supporting those schools, rather than setting up a privatised and low-accountability system funded by taxpayers.

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