[Sitting date: 19 July 2012. Volume:681;Page:3754. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the
Minister of Education: Does she stand by her reported comments that the Government wanted to collect National Standards data to raise pupil achievement, not to rank schools?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education)
: Yes. I remain committed to using national standards data to raise achievement for all learners.
Catherine Delahunty: Why does she not want the data used to rank schools?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I am clearly committed to national standards information—which is public information—needing to be presented in a meaningful and useful way that does not damage schools and is focused on how student achievement can be raised.
Catherine Delahunty: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was “Why does she not want the data used to rank schools?”. I did not hear why she does not want that.
Mr SPEAKER: With respect, I heard the Minister say she believed that the important information should be used for educational purposes and not to damage schools. The member asked why, and the Minister gave her reason why.
Catherine Delahunty: Why did her ministry write to the school boards and principals telling them to release their national standards data to journalists, when under the Official Information Act the schools can decline a request if the information is going to be published soon—something you are planning to do in September?
Mr SPEAKER: I am not sure the Speaker is planning to do that, but so long as the Minister takes that as being something the Minister is planning to do, the Hon Hekia Parata.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: National standards data is public information.
Catherine Delahunty: What is she doing to ensure that the ropey national standards data available now and the official ministry data available in September are not compiled into league tables that rank schools?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I have said that we are clearly committed to presenting this information in a meaningful and useful way. This is the first year that national standards data has been reported. Therefore, it is significantly variable. But I expect that it will get better and better and be more useful over time. The focus of the ministry is how that information can be used to help parents understand how well their children are doing, help the schools understand how well their school is doing, and help the Government understand how well the system is doing.
Catherine Delahunty: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was quite a specific question. I appreciate the Minister’s answer, but it was quite a specific question about what she is doing to ensure that the information will not be compiled into league tables that rank schools. I did not hear that bit replied to.
Mr SPEAKER: I will invite the member to repeat her question. I have been struggling to understand the questions, I have got to confess, so I will invite the member to repeat it.
Catherine Delahunty: What is she doing to ensure that the ropey national standards data available now—
Hon Simon Bridges: What do you mean by ropey?
Catherine Delahunty: —ask the Prime Minister, because it is his expression—and the official ministry data available in September are not compiled into league tables that rank schools?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: What I am doing is making it very clear that my expectation is that that report will be compiled in a way that the information is meaningful and useful for the purposes of raising student achievement.
Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Sorry, but I need to suggest that actually the question was not answered. The Minister has still not said what she is doing to not—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister answered the question. Whether the member believes that the answer given is going to be adequate to achieve the outcome that was the subject of the question is another matter, but the Minister certainly answered the question.
Catherine Delahunty: Will she act on the serious concerns of 100 leading academics by promising the House that national standards data will not be released in a form that will allow it to create rankable league tables?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I can talk about what the ministry does with the information; I cannot talk about what other people choose to do with the information.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Because it is a democracy—it is a democracy. That is why. The ministry will be focusing on presenting it in a meaningful and useful way to—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the Minister. Look, I say to members of the Labour front bench on this occasion that I cannot hear the Minister’s answer. In case a point of order is raised, I must be able to hear the Minister’s answer. I call the Hon Hekia Parata.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Well, really, I had finished. I was saying, to reiterate one more time—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I ask members to show some respect. There is a public interest in this issue—a serious issue.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: What we propose to do is to publish a report that is meaningful and useful in respect of national standards data, to assist schools and their communities to understand how well student achievement is being raised, and to assist the Government to understand how the system as a whole is relating to raising student achievement. Kia ora tātou.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order has—[Interruption] Order! I say to members they should listen; a point of order has been called.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The questioner was at pains to ask whether or not the information would be released in such a form that comparative analysis of the type she did not want to happen in the public could not happen. She was seeking assurance on that specific matter—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is quite reinterpreting the question as asked.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I’m not. It’s a clear question.
Mr SPEAKER: There must be something wrong with the Speaker’s ears—well, there is something wrong with the Speaker’s ears; I accept that absolutely. [Interruption] I asked for that, did I not? In the two answers the Minister gave—because there was a part that could be heard, when she was first answering the question before she was drowned out, and then there was a second part—in the first part the Minister pointed out that she could not, in fact, control what the media did, and that the Minister could control only what the ministry did in respect of the information. She was, therefore, answering the member’s question that there were some aspects of what might happen in the public that were beyond the Minister’s control, and that was a perfectly fair answer to the question asked.
Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table a letter to the boards of trustees and chairpersons from the Acting Secretary of Education saying they must release national standards, even though they do not have to.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.