• Nick Smith

Education Minister Nick Smith today responded to NZEI's statement on the NZCER report Ten Years On: How Schools View Educational Reform saying that the union is launching yet another negative attack on Tomorrow's Schools.

"I am saddened by the union's attack on our schools. This is a selective quoting of the report to help the union undermine Tomorrow's Schools and the
progress we have made. I have not heard of one school that would like to go back to the old system."

"Our schools are doing well under Tomorrow's Schools. Their expectations of what they should be doing, and want to do, for their pupils are far higher than they were in 1989. This is a reflection of the increased freedom and flexibility they have under self-management rather than being constrained by centralised bureaucratic decision making. I want to increase that freedom, not take it away."

The report also says that:
* class sizes are lower then ever before. Only 13% of our classes now have 30 or more students, half the figure in 1996, the report points out that this
reflects improved government funding for staffing.

* over half the schools in the survey are employing more teaching staff than their entitlement.

* principal morale is higher than three years ago ? 72% describing it as good or better.

* teacher morale is higher than it was three years ago

"This report is based on a survey of the opinions of 349 schools. This is roughly 15% of our primary schools. The fact is an average primary school has had a $32,000 real increase in their operations grant, an $88,000 real increase in teachers' salaries and a $545,000 investment in buildings."

"This is yet another attack by the union on Tomorrow's Schools. This election is shaping up to be a choice between going forward with National into the next chapter of Tomorrow's Schools or going backward with Labour and the unions."