Primary principal and teacher organisations say teachers are looking forward to ushering in a new school year free from National Standards.

In December last year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that National Standards would no longer be a requirement for primary and intermediate schools. Instead, schools would be required to report to parents twice a year about the progress students have made in all areas of the curriculum, beyond reading, writing and maths.

New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) president Whetu Cormick says before and during the national standards era, schools used a variety of assessment tools to measure learning including learning progression frameworks, e-asTTle, tools for learners with diverse needs and PAT tests.

“What is so liberating about taking National Standards away is that we can now focus on the wider curriculum, without having to obsess about National Standards, and choose the assessment tools that best fit our own school contexts.”

Te Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association president Pat Newman is concerned to hear principals say they are not sure what to replace National Standards with. He believes the answer lies in the New Zealand Curriculum.

“New Zealand has already a worldwide recognised document, called the National Curriculum. A superb document written after much discussion and consultation,” says Newman, “It was applauded by teachers, by parents, by principals and even ERO when it was released!  Confining National Standards to the bin marked ‘just another failed political educational experiment’ allows us to ensure the National Curriculum is allowed to be the guiding document for education in New Zealand. We don’t need a replacement. It is already here!”

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart agrees with a focus on the curriculum, teachers will be freed to teach and engage children in the learning that really motivates them.

Stuart said educators fought against National Standards because they did not help children succeed at learning, and caused undue stress for even very young children and their whānau.

“They did not foster a love of learning, they narrowed the curriculum, put undue pressure on children, increased teacher workload, and weren’t even an accurate measure of a child’s progress,” said Stuart, “Thankfully we have moved away from assessment of learning to assessment for learning. We can now have a more holistic view and look at next steps to learning.”

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