Plan for school app ‘overkill’

The Hutt News - - CONVERSATIONS - LAURA DOONEY

Par­ents are not con­vinced that a plan that would al­low them to track their child’s progress through an app would be worth the ef­fort.

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English an­nounced a raft of ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing one to be called Na­tional Stan­dards Plus.

It would al­low par­ents more in­for­ma­tion on how their pri­mary school chil­dren were track­ing, ac­ces­si­ble through an app.

The an­nounce­ment also in­cluded dig­i­tal learn­ing for se­nior stu­dents, more re­source to raise pri­mary school achieve­ment in maths, and a prom­ise that pri­mary school stu­dents could learn a sec­ond lan­guage if they wanted to.

But par­ents spo­ken to thought the idea was a bit of ‘‘overkill’’, and that Na­tional could be spend­ing money on more im­por­tant things.

Welling­ton par­ent Ali Quinn said it ap­peared the party was try­ing to solve a prob­lem that did not nec­es­sar­ily ex­ist.

Talk­ing to teach­ers, and the chil­dren them­selves, told par­ents more than an app could.

There were prob­a­bly lots of other bet­ter places to spend the money, Quinn said. He said he would use the app if there was one avail­able, but not re­li­giously.

Par­ents did not need that level of gran­u­lar knowl­edge.

‘‘Kids will fall be­hind and kids will get ahead. If you mon­i­tor it too much you’ll get car­ried away with it.’’

Par­ent Rebecca Wood­more said she too would use the app now and then if it was avail­able, but also be­lieved there were more im­por­tant pri­or­i­ties.

She had specif­i­cally sent her chil­dren to a small school, so she could have one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions with teach­ers. It might be dif­fer­ent once her chil­dren got to a high school with far more stu­dents, and needed to track NCEA re­sults.

New Zealand Prin­ci­pals Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Whetu Cormick said par­ents pick­ing up a mo­bile phone was not an an­swer to a lack of progress in Na­tional Stan­dards achieve­ment.

He said schools were al­ready telling par­ents how their chil­dren were do­ing in class, but Na­tional was out of touch with the re­al­i­ties of what schools were fac­ing in terms of se­vere be­hav­iours from chil­dren, and prob­lems in ac­cess­ing learn­ing sup­port.

Mother Karen Fletcher said the idea sounded like the gov­ern­ment was try­ing to come up with some­thing new around Na­tional Stan­dards.

She did not think the idea of par­ents get­ting up­dates on their child’s progress through an app was very use­ful, and said a con­ver­sa­tion with teach­ers was far more im­por­tant.

‘‘Be­ing sent es­sen­tially a pass or fail or that your kid is achiev­ing or not achiev­ing on­line is not very help­ful, it puts stress on par­ents and the kids.’’

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Nikki Kaye said the pol­icy was not about re­plac­ing face-to-face meet­ings in schools, but giv­ing more com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion to fam­i­lies, and let­ting them get that in­for­ma­tion in a con­ve­nient way.

The Gov­ern­ment was also end­ing the decile sys­tem, which would al­low it to bet­ter tar­get fund­ing to schools with chil­dren and young peo­ple at risk of not achiev­ing due to dis­ad­van­tage.

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