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Left and right in schools

  • February 29th, 2008

As a school board member almost continuously for nineteen years (over two schools) I take education ideology seriously. Nowhere has the left had greater success. The waste of talent has not been only among the students. I’ve watched a generation of dedicated and determined teachers treading water in a bog of intellectual mush.

Britain’s Labour government has been trying to crawl out of that bog for some years. The NZBR draws attention to the Australian reports  that Rudd’s team have also broken ranks with their dreary teaching union colleagues.

The ALP’s education policy paper, dated November 18, for which Gillard as Education Minister will be responsible for implementing, provides further evidence of the resilience of Howard’s conservative social agenda. Under the heading Greater Accountability, the ALP policy promises – as did Brendan Nelson when he was education minister – to have report cards in plain English, where students are graded A to E and the word fail returns to the classroom.

In contrast to the present lowest common denominator literacy and numeracy testing, in which students are assessed only in terms of a minimum standard, Labor also promises to measure student performance in terms of levels of proficiency; one would hope similar to the US, where national tests are measured in terms of basic, proficient and advanced.

Holding schools accountable for performance is another initiative that signals a change to the ALP’s view of education. Instead of measuring how successful the education system is in terms of money spent, the focus is on learning outcomes and how best to identify and turn around underperforming schools.

Although it is not going as far as the league tables introduced under the Blair government in Britain, the Rudd Government intends to make school performance data publicly available, allowing parents to identify successful and underperforming schools. During the primary years, a minimum of five hours of mathematics is in; spell checks are out; spelling is in; self-expression is out; learning correct grammar, punctuation and syntax is in. The ALP policy paper is happy to state: “Sustained attention to the basics should be evident throughout a student’s entire schooling career, but particularly in the early years and primary school.”

Are there any NZ Labour politicians who’d dare that?



“Are there any NZ Labour politicians who’d dare that?”

More to the point Stephen.

Are there any National Party politicians who’d dare do that???


We’ll see

  • Spam
  • March 1st, 2008
  • 9:31 am


I believe its national policy to start basic numeracy & literacy testing of primary school children. That’s a start.

  • Stephen LINDSAY
  • March 4th, 2008
  • 9:28 pm

When I was on the intermediate school board the teachers’ representative floored me when she told the meeting that the teachers’ strike was for the good of the pupils.
The Board’s chairperson admonished me for my choice of language when I explained that;
“Teachers striking for the good of the pupils was like fucking for virginity.”

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