Coun­cil wades in on schools’ Nat Stan­dards de­bate

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Na­tional Stan­dards in schools was brought into sharp fo­cus last week by Porirua City coun­cil­lors who sup­ported a mo­tion re­quest­ing more dis­cus­sion over the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue.

A dep­u­ta­tion be­fore last Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing of the full coun­cil saw Porirua prin­ci­pals Karl Vasau (Holy Fam­ily) and Michele Whit­ing (Corinna) make a plea for coun­cil­lors to sup­port the mo­tion put for­ward by coun­cil­lors Litea Ah Hoi and Wayne Poutoa.

It called for Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Anne Tol­ley to talk fur­ther with schools over im­ple­ment­ing the stan­dards, which will mea­sure stu­dents from next year.

Ms Whit­ing said six schools in Porirua were part of a 280-strong na­tion­wide group that had no con­fi­dence in the ‘‘tar­get-set­ting’’ that the na­tional stan­dards re­quire, al­though there were ‘‘ many more’’ schools lo­cally that were stay­ing quiet at this stage.

‘‘ We are al­ready plan­ning and re­port­ing [how chil­dren are far­ing in class]. It does not make sense to be spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars on some­thing that will la­bel stu­dents as fail­ures. There needs to be a more pos­i­tive pol­icy to­wards im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion and rais­ing achieve­ment lev­els for Maori and Pa­cific Is­land chil­dren,’’ she said.

While Ken Dou­glas had a con­cern that this was an ‘‘in­dus­trial is­sue’’ be­tween two groups. He was one of 10 coun­cil­lors, in­clud­ing mayor Nick Leggett, who sup­ported the mo­tion. Tim Shep­pard and Euon Mur­rell voted against it.

Mr Shep­pard said it was a ‘‘ core cen­tral Govern­ment is­sue’’ that PCC should not be in­volved in, while Mr Mur­rell said ‘‘you have to start some­where’’ when it comes to im­prov­ing lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy rates at pri­mary level.

‘‘Na­tional Stan­dards will en­deav­our to raise these rates. What­ever changes you make, there will al­ways be peo­ple who ob­ject and I think its naive to think this govern­ment will not be talk­ing to schools.’’

Ms Ah Hoi, in re­ply to Mr Shep­pard, said the prece­dent had in fact been set, when PCC waded into the smack­ing de­bate in 2006. This was about more than pol­i­tics, she said.

‘‘We need to be putting pol­i­tics aside, this is about our chil­dren. The mo­tion is ask­ing this coun­cil to help con­tinue the dis­cus­sion. This is not about a boy­cott but bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the min­istry. We know the past sys­tem is not work­ing but Na­tional Stan­dards are not go­ing to work for our kids.’’

Mr Poutoa, be­lieved tru­ancy lev­els would ‘‘sky­rocket’’ un­der na­tional stan­dards.

New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute pres­i­dent Frances Nel­son con­grat­u­lated PCC on its stance, re­spond­ing to ‘‘deep com­mu­nity con­cerns’’. She hoped it would lead to other coun­cils tak­ing sim­i­lar ac­tion.

‘‘This is the first time we have seen a lo­cal body stand up on be­half of its com­mu­nity, to send the Govern­ment a clear mes­sage that it needs to en­gage with the school sec­tor over the grow­ing dis­quiet about Na­tional Stan­dards.’’

Miss Pho­to­genic: Han­nah Hal­lom-Eames says com­pet­ing in Miss Welling­ton has opened a lot of doors for her and has al­lowed her to ex­press her­self in dif­fer­ent ways.

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