The President of the New Zealand Principals' Federation, Paul Drummond welcomes the decision to re-examine the proposed staff:student ratios for Intermediate Schools but warns that the working party needs to extend its brief.
'The Treasury got this whole policy wrong,' said Drummond, 'They misread the research, failed to check with the professionals and completely ignored the parents,' he said.
'Parents remain deeply disturbed by the idea of increasing any class size,' he says. 'They know their children will not benefit from being in bigger classes and teachers agree.' 'We want quality teaching going on in our class-rooms so that we can continue to respond to the individual needs of children,' he said.
Under the proposed new policy to increase class sizes to 27.5, there will be a four-year cap on total teacher numbers. Whilst schools have been told that this will translate to losing no more than one teacher, principals are not convinced.
'This whole policy needs to be looked at again,' says Drummond. 'There are many colleagues doing their own calculations and finding they would be losing more than just one teacher,' he said. 'This policy has been hastily put together, without due consideration for the way ratios affect all specialist programmes in schools, not just those in the Intermediate sector,' he said.
'Programmes like reading recovery that help thousands of Kiwi kids lift their reading every year would be negatively affected by the proposed new ratios, ' said Drummond. 'It makes no sense when the government has made it clear for the last four years that their goal is to lift achievement that they would introduce a policy that runs absolutely counter to achieving that goal,' he said.
The research is unequivocal on the relationship between class size and teaching students who struggle with learning. To be successful those children need to be in smaller classes.
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