The vote of no-confidence in national standards by the Principals’ Federation says more about their principles than the standards.
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.
Almost everything a government does is political, that’s the nature of the beast. Unfortunately the public faces of education, rather than being a professional body – as for example they are in health, is also political.
The federation would like us to believe their stance represents the unanimous view of teachers and schools. It doesn’t. Many schools are working with the standards and doing their upmost to make them work for the sake of the children they teach and their parents who want to know how they progressing.
In her speech to the federation conference Education Minister Anne Tolley read an email from a school board chair:
“Our principal has led the implementation seamlessly and I would say we have found it to be a worthwhile experience. I have been impressed with his professionalism and integrity. The staff have all responded well to the challenge.”
If the principals who voted no-confidence concentrated more on education than politics they too might find they can implement the standards seamlessly and is such a way that the school finds them worthwhile.
The introduction of national standards was part of National’s election policy, it became the government and as public service employees the principals and their staff are bound to implement them to the best of their ability.
Regardless of their political views the principals ought to agree with the Minister’s reasoning:
The evidence tells us that when our underachieving students fall behind they tend to stay behind, and in many cases begin disengaging. Early intervention can address this issue, giving every single young New Zealander the opportunity to reach their potential.
Standards by themselves won’t help the children learn but the extra help those identified as not learning as well as they ought to be will.