9 Apr 2011

Principals pass vote of no confidence in Govt policy

7:46 pm on 9 April 2011

School principals have passed a vote of no confidence in the Government's education policy.

National standards in reading, writing and maths lie at the heart of the vote.

Principals Federation president Peter Simpson called on his colleagues to reject them.

He told their conference in Wellington on Saturday morning that the standards are purely political and principals should not waste any more time on them.

He said the standards are too undeveloped to be of any use and principals should make a moral and ethical decision on behalf of the country's children.

Mr Simpson said the Government has tried to manufacture a sense of crisis even though international studies show New Zealand's schools are among the best in the world.

Radio New Zealand's education correspondent says the address was the latest step in a battle between the federation and the government over the standards.

Last year the federation unsucessfully tried to halt the standards and have them substantially revised.

Mr Simpson said the latest call to action is a watershed moment.

Education Minister Anne Tolley made it clear there would be no change to the Government's policy.

She said most schools and principals are implementing the standards and that opposition against national standards in reading, writing and maths is not getting any stronger.

"I think most schools are getting on with it. This is the only organisation that continues to argue the same old things again and again. They actually haven't moved their argument, they're still the same as they were two years ago when they were involved in the design of the standards," she said.

Katrina Hampton, from Alfredton Primary School in Wairarapa does not agree with the standards, but says her Board of Trustees fears it will get the sack and has told her to implement them.

The Principal of Ardmore Primary in Auckland, Grant Barnes, says he has started implementing national standards because that is the law.

But he says he has started to find things that concern him.

"There's no consistency across the schools. There's no fixed standard and it's not national. What is happening is that one school is interpreting it one way, while another schools interperting it another way."

Mr Barnes says he hopes the Ministry of Education and principals can come to a compromise on the standards.