Tolley sends teacher rebels to naughty spot

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Education Minister Anne Tolley today issued a stern reminder to school leaders rebelling against the Government’s controversial national standards.

During a fleeting visit to Queenstown for the annual New Zealand Principals’ Federation conference, Tolley told more than 550 principals that they are public servants and employed to implement Government policy.

Her speech follows yesterday’s majority vote by the NZPF to oppose national standards to assess Year 1-8 pupils.

Like a teacher addressing a class of naughty students, Tolley told the group: “No public servants have ever been granted the privilege of picking and choosing which Government laws they choose to administer.

“The IRD cannot refuse to implement tax cuts because they do not believe it will raise economic growth.

“Lawyers, accountants and all the other professionals working in the ministries can offer their professional opinion, but it’s the elected Government that makes the policy decisions.”

Tolley shows no sign of backing down on the policy that is dividing the education sector – the Government is spending $26 million on upskilling teachers this year.

“One thing is certain, you won’t be able to find out what changes have been made to professional development, you won’t be able to reap the benefits, you won’t be able to provide valuable feedback on the sessions if you don’t go along to the training workshops.

“In the end that’s your choice.”

Most schools – with the support of parents around the country – are in favour of implementing the standards, Tolley says.

“Making threats” via the media to oppose the policy isn’t constructive and “you will get results” by approaching the Ministry of Education with concerns or suggestions, she warns.

“But if the Ministry doesn’t have the information from you, then there is no chance your school will benefit. And you will be left to answer to your communities.”