The Press

Labour: No more national standards

- JO MOIR

More upheaval for students will come under a Labour-led government with plans to axe the way children are currently assessed in schools.

The national standards system used to test pupils in primary school would be replaced with a new model under Labour, and it would do a complete review of assessment load on both students and teachers at NCEA level.

Labour rolled out its education manifesto yesterday ahead of the September election, although much of it had already been announced or signalled in the last year.

The policy will see an extra $4 billion invested over four years, although

$400 million has yet to be allocated and would likely be used on future announceme­nts.

National standards, which test year 1 to 8 pupils on reading, writing and maths, were introduced in 2010. They have undergone a long bedding-in process as teachers, students and parents struggled to make sense of how the standards worked. NCEA was phased in to secondary schools between 2002 and 2004.

The guts of the manifesto is around reducing the barriers to free education, quality teaching, public education and putting students at the centre of learning.

Labour’s education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, said the issue currently with national standards was that they’re not ‘‘national or standard’’.

‘‘They’ve basically become a compliance, form-filling exercise; that’s resulted in an enormous increase in teacher workload without any real increase in student achievemen­t, so we think we can ease that.’’

He said a new model to replace national standards would be a return to ‘‘formative testing’’ of the curriculum.

‘‘The very best thing that parents can do if they want to know how their kids are doing is have a conversati­on with their kids’ teachers.’’

Some other initiative­s detailed in the manifesto include re-building outdated and wornout school buildings, so that every school had modern classrooms by 2030, at a cost of $1.77b.

The next big ticket item, which had previously been announced, was introducin­g three years of free post-school education or training at a cost of $942m over four years.

Yesterday, Labour also announced an end to voluntary donations for the majority of parents across the country.

National’s campaign chairman, Steven Joyce, has written off the Opposition’s manifesto as ‘‘stale’’.

‘‘Already this week, they have broken out such hardy triennials as R&D tax credits, their insulation scheme, and their early restart to contributi­ons to the Super Fund. ‘‘And then today they have released an education policy that is almost in every sense identical to their 2014 one,’’ Joyce said.

Of the nine headline initiative­s, he said only one was different to 2014, and ‘‘that was announced 18 months ago’’.

 ??  ?? Chris Hipkins
Chris Hipkins

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