Hard News by Russell Brown

139

And so it begins

Dear Chairperson,

The Ministry of Education has received an Official Information Act request from John Hartevelt of Fairfax Media New Zealand relating to National Standards data that schools were required to send to the Ministry of Education by 31 May 2012.

Initially the Ministry declined Mr Hartevelt’s request and suggested to the reporter that as the annual reports were school documents he could obtain the information from individual schools. Mr Hartevelt subsequently complained to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Following a direction from the Ombudsman, one part of the request, namely for the National Standards data returns from every school that has sent this information to the Education Ministry as at the close of business on May 31, is being transferred to individual Boards of Trustees under section 14 (b)(ii) of the Official Information Act.

Please respond to Mr Hartevelt with the relevant information in accordance with the Official Information Act. The Office of the Ombudsman and the New Zealand School Trustees Association have recently provided Boards with advice which clarifies your responsibilities in relation to the Official Information Act. Further guidance is available on the Office of the Ombudsman website: www.ombudsmen.govt.nz <http://www.ombudsmen.govt.nz/> <http://www.ombudsmen.govt.nz/> .

John Hartevelt’s contact details are: john.hartevelt@fairfaxmedia.co.nz <http://john.hartevelt/@fairfaxmedia.co.nz> , Fairfax Political Bureau, Office 1053, Press Gallery, Parliament.

Yours sincerely

Home | Office of the Ombudsman

www.ombudsmen.govt.nz

We handle complaints against government agencies and conduct investigations and inspections. We also encourage good administration by giving feedback to agencies, and initiate our own investigations where we see the need.

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The letter above is being received by schools around the country.

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I suppose it would be impossible to prevent the media publishing league tables in order to sell papers, but it is important that the government and Ministry has no truck with them. The Minister needs to have a severe word with anyone publishing league tables and tell them firmly that they are harming New Zealand education. As soon as the assessment judgements underpinning the use of National Standards become high-stakes for schools, we are going to compromise the real value of formative assessment for improving teaching and learning for individual students.

Ian Schagen, former chief research analyst, Ministry of Education, internal memo, 2010.

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