Principal's Blog

WELCOME TO 2010
22 October 2009

The ongoing battle between the profession and the Minister of Education over National Standards is depressing and ominous.

The rhetoric has been flowing, but many parents remain cautiously silent, watching from the sideline, perhaps not fully realizing that this initiative poses a significant threat to classroom life for their child. So how may national standards change what happens in classrooms?

In 1993 I took up a position teaching children in a private school in Port Moresby, PNG. The children in my class were a mixture of “nationals” and ex-pats, and the school fee for attendance was significant. The year I taught was called Grade Six, and before the end of the year those children would be required to sit the infamous national Grade Six Exams, a hurdle which would determine who should go on to attend a State high school, and who would not win a place. There were only sufficient high school places for 30% of all the students in Grade Six across the country. Predictably the exams were in maths, and English, and there was a science and social studies paper. Failure to gain a pass meant leaving school aged thirteen, so the stakes were high.

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