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Dr Muriel Newman

Failing Education

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Last week Radio NZ reported that schools around the country are paying tens of thousands of dollars to private consultants to help them improve the way they teach reading. They are introducing the so-called “structured literacy” approach, more commonly known as “phonics”. While backed by 30 years of educational research it is not funded by the Ministry of Education.

Phonics has been at the centre of a long-running education debate, as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator freelance journalist Karl du Fresne explains:

“In 1994 I wrote an article for the Evening Post about a remarkable woman named Doris Ferry. Doris, who was then 78, was a retired teacher who lived on the Kapiti Coast. All she wanted to do was devote herself to her large garden, but instead she found herself spending half of each day providing individual tutoring at home to local kids who had fallen behind at school. The reason they were failing, without exception, is that they couldn’t read. Parents came to her in desperation after word got around that Doris was succeeding where schools were failing.

“By the time I interviewed her, she had brought 1500 kids up to speed with their reading – kids who, in many cases, had fallen hopelessly behind at school, even after completing so-called reading recovery courses. The difference to their lives was dramatic.

“I’m sure Doris’s empathetic manner and one-on-one tuition  helped, but there was no doubt in her mind that what counted most was her use of the teaching method known as intensive phonics, whereby children learn to read by recognising letters or combinations of letters and the sounds associated with them. Many readers will recognise that description, because until the 1960s it was how reading was taught in all New Zealand schools. Then, in one of those sudden theory-driven shifts in direction to which the education system seems fatally susceptible, phonics was supplanted by a method known as whole-language.”  

Developed by the New Zealand educationalist Dame Marie Clay, the ‘balanced literacy’ or ‘whole language’ approach is based on the idea that learning to read should be as natural as learning to talk. If you put children in a ‘book rich’ environment, they will learn to read in their own time, taking their cues from pictures and context.

Indeed, while this method works for many children, it doesn’t for far too many of our most vulnerable children, including an estimated one in seven with learning disabilities.

In a bizarre twist, the Ministry of Education’s $30 million Reading Recovery programme for children struggling with reading was also pioneered by Marie Clay. As a result, it reinforces the whole-language approach, instead of offering phonics as an alternative.

While many schools would prefer to re-direct their Reading Recovery funding into phonics instruction, they are prohibited from doing so. As a result, those who wish to teach phonics must fund it themselves.

The Kaiapoi North School in Canterbury, which has invested around $20,000 in phonics has reported that after two years, 94 percent of children are at or above the curriculum standards, compared to 70 percent using the whole word approach.

Ladbrooks School on the outskirts of Christchurch, which introduced phonics three years ago at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a specialist teacher, six learning assistants and professional development for all teaching staff, says the impact has gone far beyond literacy to improve all areas of children’s learning.

Massey University literacy expert Professor James Chapman is a staunch advocate of the phonics approach: “It’s a pity they have to pay for it but those principals who’ve chosen this structured literacy approach are absolutely onto it in terms of the best reading science evidence at the moment.”

While the phonics debate continues within education circles, what is beyond debate is the significant fall in New Zealand’s educational standards. The decline, which started decades ago, cannot, of course, be blamed on phonics alone, but the move away from proven systems of learning to experimental ones has contributed.

One experimental reform that is believed to have played a major role in the slide in standards, is New Zealand’s ‘progressive’ child-centred approach to learning. Introduced in 2007 by Prime Minister Helen Clark, this strongly ideological methodology – which was designed to remove elitism from the education system – replaced New Zealand’s traditional knowledge-based syllabus with a focus on skills and competencies.

While it gave schools the freedom to develop their own curriculum, it also provided an opening for the introduction of radical cultural and environmental agendas that erode core learning. If children spend more time on issues like climate change and the Treaty, and less time on the basics, then numeracy and literacy standards will decline.

And decline they have. In 2016, the reading levels of New Zealand 10-year-olds in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) fell to their lowest since the survey began in 2001, dropping below all other English-speaking countries to 32nd out of the 50 countries surveyed.

In the OECD’s Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) surveys, New Zealand’s results for 15-year-olds also deteriorated, sliding from 3rd in reading in 2000 to 12th in 2018, from 3rd in maths to 27th, and from 6th in science to 12th. Altogether, New Zealand’s scores have declined by 23 points for reading, 29 points for maths, and 22 points for science, where the OECD estimates that a 30-point decline is equivalent to one-year of learning.

As the New Zealand Initiative pointed out in their recent report, New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How Bad Ideas Ruined A Once World-Leading School System, “despite a 32% real rise in per-pupil spending since 2001, students have gone from world-leading to decidedly average”.

They believe the child-centred approach to teaching and learning is responsible for the decline in standards, and they are calling for a return to a knowledge-based national curriculum.

The Ministry of Education is, of course, doing what government departments always do when confronted with obvious failure – they commission reports.

One such report, The literacy landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand, prepared by the University of Auckland’s Professor Stuart McNaughton, the chief science advisor to the Ministry of Education, identifies key actions and interventions that could make a real difference to children’s literacy.

These range from simple, everyday activities such as more reading, writing, and telling stories, to introducing literacy progress measures across the whole of the education system, to ensure that children who are struggling receive the support they need.

The tragedy of educational failure is that it particularly affects children from low socioeconomic communities because their families are less likely to provide the out-of-classroom support that kids who are struggling need.

While radicals blame poor statistics for Maori children on racism and colonisation, the answers usually lie in the home. 

As Professor McNaughton explains, “Parents’ attitudes and personal reading and home resources enable or constrain learning, development and achievement at school. There is a strong relationship between the resources that parents can call upon in the home (e.g. number of books, internet connection) and achievement. At the extremes of access to resources the difference is estimated to be about two years of growth. From 2011 to 2016 parental attitudes to reading increased slightly. But the numbers of books – particularly in Maori homes – decreased over this time.”

He also notes the crucial importance of the oral language skills that are taught in the home: “The size of vocabulary in the first year at school predicts the levels of achievement in reading comprehension in succeeding years, even after 10 years at school.”

And he is a strong advocate of summer reading for children: “A seminal study in 1978 showed that each additional hour a day a student in upper primary school spent reading over summer was associated with one to two months of added achievement, irrespective of socio economic status.”

As well as reporting the academic performance of 15-year-olds, the OECD’s PISA surveys cover many of the other factors that influence a child’s ability to learn. They show New Zealand students are losing confidence in their education. They are now more likely to say reading is a waste of time, with 52 percent of pupils saying they “only read if they have to”.

In 2018, these students not only reported less reading of books, but also less systematic teaching of new vocabulary, less reading out loud, and more silent reading – each of which was related to lower achievement scores.

The results showed that New Zealand now has one of the worst scores for classroom behaviour of any OECD nation. It has the highest rate of frequent bullying, and the number of students who did not feel safe at school increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2018. In addition, 41 percent of students reported noise and disorder in English classes, 35 percent said students did not listen to their teachers, and the number of students who skipped school in the two weeks before the test increased to 29 percent.

Education has long been described as a passport to a better future, but with increasing numbers of students leaving school without any form of qualification, the system appears to be failing the very children for whom it was traditionally a lifeline.

Will things change? Not likely, because the socialist Labour Government places greater importance on teaching those values they deem to be important, and less on core learning.

In 2017, the NZCPR approached Professor Sing-Kong Lee of the National Institute of Education in Singapore to ask him what makes their education system world-leading. His report – see HERE – which could be regarded as a blueprint for a better education system, identifies many of the factors that lead to Singapore’s success.

The philosophy that underpins their education system is that every student learns differently, with each having different strengths that need to be differently nurtured. As a result, students who are academically inclined are guided into academic pathways, whereas those who are more hands-on pursue a vocational approach. All students, however, are given the opportunity to switch pathways, based on their results.

And as far as parents are concerned, their role is crucial – they are regarded as ‘engaged partners’, along with schools and teachers, in the education of their children.

Professor Lee explains that Singapore’s educational success began post-independence, when the role of education and teachers were tied to the crucial task of nation-building. This philosophy continues to guide Singapore’s education system as it continually strives for excellence.

With human capital the country’s key resource, the goal of education is to ensure that every student will be adequately prepared with skills that will enable them to be employable and self-supporting in their life’s journey. 

In comparison, the vision of our Ministry of Education is for every New Zealander to be strong in their national and cultural identity, be an active participant and citizen in creating a strong civil society, and be productive, valued and competitive in the world.

I will leave the last word to Professor Lee:

“Irrespective of the pathways a student may choose to pursue, it is believed that foundational knowledge is essential for their progression. Thus, much effort is put into the teaching of Mathematics and Science to provide the necessary foundational knowledge, albeit at different levels. Different approaches are adopted for students in the different pathways to cater to their individual learning profiles. Furthermore, the pathways provided in the Singapore Education System can be described as one with bridges and ladders. This analogy is significant as it symbolises that there is no dead end regardless of which pathway a student may choose. A student may choose the vocational pathway, but if he or she can do well along that pathway, the opportunity to pursue a degree course in the university will be open. It is for this reason that it is important to provide a strong foundational knowledge to all students as we cannot predict where the student may land.”

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*Do you believe New Zealand’s education system needs a greater emphasis on the basics of reading, writing and mathematics?


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


Absolutely Time to concentrate on the basics Craig
Definitely ! James
Take out the climate change garbage, the political bias, the maori indoctrination and return to doing the basics properly. Simon
ith obveus innit? Mark
Someone with a low IQ as Comrade Ardern would rather children learnt fairy stories about global warming and maori mumbo-jumbo. Monica
This is so basically obvious that the question should not even need to be asked. Doug
These basics are essential for young peoples development Brian
A must do Michael
Never did us any harm!! Sheena
From a former teacher Jan
Always have. Still do. Mike
Back to basics please ! Donald
Unions are holding our education system to ransom. They also control this disaster of a government. It is only going to get worse until the majority of those who voted Labour or worse Greens wake up and smell the coffee Richard
Yes, certainly, but first the socialist agenda to break down long established social standards, religion and the family unit has to be curbed. Socialists don’t like thinking families – socialists want you to DO everything their way or in their eyes you are not good worthy people!!! Just wonder why it is that our education results are steadily declining. Plus they don’t like history either. One might learn too much from history! Now keep playing the racist card to add another political distraction. Why is it racism so often seems to be promoted by racists? Just check out their agenda.. . it’s not education. Stuart
From personal observation I’ve seen how my grand-children are being starved (not literally) of learning techniques in their education. By imparting some of my learned skills I have seen them breakthrough into an accelerated elevation of learning, with enthusiasm and confidence. Robert
Emphatically – yes Paul
Want to see dumbing down STOPPED Wendy
And less emphasis on bogus climate change and Maori! Murray
Too many young people leaving school without the ability to know the basics Ted
So the next generation will not let this happen again!!! “A NATION THAT CANNOT SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES WILL LIKELY LOSE THE WOOD AND THE TREES!” Frederick
Politics and ‘lifestyles’ should be removed from education and emphasis put on literacy (reading and writing) in the major trading language (English) plus mathematics in the formative years. Radical left-wing right-wing and sexual orientation should be completely removed from the education curriculum. Bryan
Absolutely, these are the core skills that service everyone throughout their lives David
These basic skills give people the best opportunity to improve themselves (barring unforeseen circumstances, be these positive or negative). Pieter
Absolutely YES! Brian
Absolutely! Bring back phonics too! Allan
Dumbing down of the population continues at an increased pace. Witness recent election outcome for confirmation bill
Education standards in Western countries have been declining for decades and it is based on deliberate policy Mike
Common sense if they are to prosper and get ahead in tomorrrows world Barry
I am entering retirement after changing direction a number of times during my working career. Each time there was a period of “total imersion” as I read everthing I could lay my hands on to learn my new direction. Without the reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic I had received both at school and at home I would have flounded. The three “R”s are the foundation. Martin
This is yet another example of a government experiment gone wrong. The elective subjects should fit in around core subjects – they should not replace them as is the case now. PM Ardern does want to introduce a core subject through – no not english, maths, or science ; NZ History according to Maori! JD
as a teacher who spent most of my 40years with students needing remedial help particularly in reading & maths I agree 100% with the need for a re evaluation of the present situation Bruce
Long overdue. National need to make this policy going into the next election. John
our education system is a disaster as the BASICS are ignored and stupid so called cultural ideals are followed. Our total society is in freefsall due to theses cultural attitudes and the future of our country is to be a 3rd world country Gordon
Absolutely. And primers in language, Latin and Greek. Along with the the histories of these to cultures and their neighbours…..through the renaissance, and thew scientific awakening…te development of Scientific practice…Euclidian, Pythagorean maths…..oh indeed. Lionel
It was good enough for me in a simpler and less technological age so is is even more important now. Terry
Anyone can build on, if they have the Basics. Geoff
Yes is the only answer. However, how is that to be achieved with the current teacher unions trying to control every thing about education and the brain washing of the kids in all things woke. There is only one real answer and that is to put the control of the schools back in the hands of the parents or in the view of the capitalist system the customer and not the socialist way in the control of the bureaucrats. The teacher unions will never agree as they are the know all’s However there is a method and that is to fund the schools with the voucher system. The money follows the kid and the parents will choose the schools that teach in the way that they want. No zoning and the parents get to choose. Suddenly those schools that teach the old fashioned way and get results will become popular. Reading Writing and Arithmetic are the basis of all learning and must be taught and not all this woke rubbish. Robin
The Ministry of Education not contributing to funding school libraries and librarians is a major factor in the demise of school libraries. Only 30% of NZ schools have functioning libraries, and the first call for change of venue when space is limited is the library. While our school plans to retain the library and librarian, I, as librarian, spent three terms of 2020 in a container while building expansion was happening. The children were the ones disadvantaged. There is a short-fall in many areas around this situation. SLANZA (School Library Assoc of NZ) is currently lobbying for change. Jan
My children are at times very under educated in comparison to my older style schooling, they are however continually being indoctrinated by an extreme socialist agenda! John
Results of this poll should be 100% YES Carole
Listen to Leighton Smith, #91 podcast. Briar Lipson’s report, “Education Delusion”. Weak governments pandering to radicals and the academic’s who grovel in their wake continue to drive down education to the lowest common denominator. Sam
The problem goes back further than the Clark government, it goes back to the Lange era. The blame has to go to successive ministers of education since – an inability to recognise faulty advice from so called experts and rectify obvious bad decisions. That all equates to amateurism. Rex
When it comes to reading, you cannot read until you know what sounds each letter or combination of letters, for example the sound of “ch” combination, makes. So phonics is the only way to learn how to read successfully in my book. Once that is learned, the writing should follow naturally, as well as grammar. Heather
Yes, yes, yes, yes! I cannot overemphasise how important I think this is! Tony
It always has and it always will. Kids will hate it! Ignore them! Return to the “Children should be seen and not heard” philosophy of the 1050’s and we will start to get somewhere. Dave
Good education is very important. Today too much emphasis is placed on learning Te Reo Alan
The biggest problem in the schools are the weak teachers who know that the system is not working but will not speak out as this would have a negative affect on their employment. Steve
If we are going to teach another language it should be mandarin as they are our major trading partners. Maori is of no use to us outside NZ. Peter
OMG yes And stop teaching the Tiny toys About Gender fluidity (sick) Elaine
Common sense tells us this. But NO now the system says before leaning to read, write and know your times tables, the kids must learn, at school, Te Reo The number of homes that I go into that have not a single book available to read is staggering. Has anyone notice how young Maori kids are now talking their own version of the English language? Barry
NZ’s dumbing down and ideological propaganda is producing a dependent and particularly useless thoroughly entitled breed of sheep! Sheila
Good article .. but I would add that poor nutrition is unhelpful to learning. The brain is an integral part of the body. Junk food is bad for the brain as well as the rest of the body. Policies like school gardens, healthy lunches, no junk available in schools and local government policies to reduce junk food outlets near to schools would help. Rochelle
Classic example is our PM who cannot pronounce words correctly, this despite being a suppose communications degree graduate? My biggest gripe is “Being” constantly pronounced as” bin.” Chris
Part of the dumb-down process perhaps. Not a problem that the children can’t read or write. At least they will all be fluent in the dinosaur language; TE REO MAORI. A.G.R.
Absolutely !!!!! We are too concerned with teaching bullshit history and cultural issues instead of teaching and stressing those subjects which will enable you to get a job and be a productive member of NZ’s society. Alan
These subjects are necessary for life and are the basis of further learning. Its simple common sense. Paul
The Education system started failing when they brought in the new maths in the 70s and they now are putting to much emphasis on PC and maori Culture Colin
Get back to the 3 Rs. Drop the cultural, climate, gender and promiscuity indoctrination and concentrate on the basics. And discipline! That other junk is child abuse. Philip
Immediately if not soo ner I had a child who was let down by the system when it was changed and I never want to see another child have to go through what he did Laurel
There are simply basic skills that we all need to build from – Ideologies do not assist children or anybody for that matter. Maurice
As an ex teacher I have long considered phonics was the way especially for children struggling with reading.Whole language makes no sense.How can you work out a word if you can’t read the rest of the sentence.I have seen children have several years one on one Reading Recovery….and still unable to read despite all that investment.Also this help goes to the very worst children.Many who just need a helping hand to get going miss out, yet would reap the most benefits. Gail
Yes! Bruce
The 3 ‘Rs’ are the basis of all education. I did my teacher training during the 1950s and taught phonics for many years after. Although I have been retired for a long time now, I worked through the time of the introduction of TV, which was the first destroyer of children’s reading habits, followed by the computer which also proved a major distraction and still is but it is much worse due to the other modern electronic gadgets. Children need to be read to from the age of a few months and throughout their early years they must be surrounded by books. In my family my children did not watch TV until they were aged 5 and then it was strictly limited. I recall being told by them that friends would not come to play as they couldn’t watch TV. They survived and both are university graduates. There are many fine programmes in schools now but the basics must still be the 3 ‘R’s There is another proof of the neglect of English and Grammar if you listen to the National Radio. At one time the BBC were the example of good speech and grammar. National Radio is now a very poor example and the Commercial Radio is appalling. Going a little further, is the shocking standards of English in, our newspapers. There is no such thing as a proof reader now. Spelling and Grammar is just printed under the heading of anything will do. Chris
These are priority above all else and I would add religious studies steven
With out we are no one Dave
Get the Basics right and the rest will follow. if you can’t read wright, or count you are bound to fail. Don
As soon as childrens education showed signs of failure the way of instruction should have been looked at. But no, that wouldn’t happen as that would have put egg on the faces of those who introduced it. The basics of the three “R”s is a proven winner that has been used for many years, why fix something that is not broken. Dennis
Yes, always. Get rid of the airy fairy theory and socialist agendas and get back to reading, writing and arithmetic. Get phonics back into English, get basic building blocks for mathematics back into the classroom, including rote learning of times tables, and teach children how to write and particularly teach children how to hold a pen. It is an absolute tragedy that communists have captured the education system and the failure of generations of children should be sheeted home to people like Helen Clark for her evil destruction of the futures of countless children and people like her must pay for their deliberate destruction and bastardization of the education system. The whole failure is deliberate and designed to dumb down the population and propagandize young people with socialist agendas. Dianna
Reading `riting `rithmatic – THAT GIVE A BRILLIANT BASIS FOR LIFE SKILLS. sheryl
Absolutely. For many years I haven’t understood why NZ continued to follow Marie Clay’s method of teaching reading when it was obviously wasn’t working. A child of 6 needing reading recovery? Surely that proved the teaching was wrong. I’ve seen a child’s face light up when it was pointed out that the name of a letter was usually the way that letter sounded in a word. We all sound out unfamiliar words when reading. As for reading recovery. Some years ago I asked someone talking about her cushy job if they used phonics? No. So the kids ‘recovered’ 6 months in 6 months! What a total waste of time and money. Hopefully someone with influence will be able to get NZ’s teaching of reading back to phonics very soon. Juliet
I say this because the results of so many young people show that it is necessary as they cant manage to do the basics Mary
ACT’s charter schools and a voucher system are the answer. Also drop the Politically Correct emphasis on the likes of Te Reo Maori, etc. Geoff
Around 1989 I realised how bad the schooling was! My children were read to from birth and at 5 they were encouraged to read back to me with help. That help was using phonetics. We had a big box that some may remember that was covering reading, writing and comprehension. My two girls were measured at 4 years ahead of their peers. The appalling ability of our young to read a post on say FB and comprehend what is being said is shocking. If it is more than a couple of lines, they don’t read it regardless. We SO have to bring back a Political Party that can stop the rot and prepare our children for a positive future and not the idiocy that is still being used and not forgetting the separatism that leaves Maori children without any real future. Help NZ! Diana
Abso-bloody-lutely!! It’s downright disgraceful how we’ve denigrated our education system, not only with the basics, but also in the sanitizing and glorifying of NZ Maori history. Tony
The agenda is clear. Worldwide with a few exceptions the quality of education is deteriorating and this process has been going on for decades now. Basic UN rule : treat them like mushrooms– i.e. feed them shit and keep them in the dark. Result:—- a population totally unable and unwilling to ask the right questions and total cannon fodder for socialism / communism. Michael
Totally ridiculous that the kids don’t learn phonics at school. We specifically sent them to a school that taught it in there curriculum Carolyn
The fact that this question needs to be asked says something very undesirable about New Zealand’s education system. Graham
Its a no brainer David
I am now retired but for twenty years I was in the state system and eventually got out and started a private Christian school in which I taught junior classes (an unusual choice for a male principal) using a phonics based approach. The kids did brilliantly. The “powers that be” were not very encouraging but could not deny that the results spoke for themselves. In Maths there was a strong focus on such evils as, rote learning of tables. Again the results were amazing. Later the school was forced for financial reasons to become integrated into the state system. Since retiring I am now described as a “minimalist” teacher. Duncan
Children need to get back to the 3 Rs sad they are indoctornateded into climate change and tea reo which is a total waste of time if they can not spell or add up figuers when I was at school there was none of this rubbish of this day and age Russell
Absolutely! Yet this idealogically-focussed Labour government seems to think that children can survive and thrive in the world with an increase in kapa haka, te reo, climate ideology and, other non-vocational, non-foundational ‘subjects’ and ideologies that provide little or no support or preparation for life in the real world. As an ex-teacher, I consider literacy and numeracy are of absolute prime importance for our coming generations of children. Alan
without the basics including some science you are illiterate and unable to understand the fundamentals of the society you live in. Kevin
In wartime Poland Hitler curtailed the education of Polish children to simple arithmetic and the ability to write ones own name. Reading was “not desirable”. Also to be taught was the doctrine that is was “divine law” to obey Germans. Change “Poland” to “New Zealand”. Change “Germany” to “United Nations.” Ardern is seeing to it that we are dumbed down, gullible slaves to the UN. Jenny
Hoping greater education improves the lot of dumb children Warren
We have a dyslectic son and taught him to read at home. we broke words down into no more than 3 or 4 letters, so the no word was insurmountable. He eventually won butchery apprentice of the year twice, still struggling with the way the questions were worded, but has persevered. Dick
The falling standards rot started with Tomorrow’s Schools when a group of ideological politicians and bureaucrats decided they know better than successful practicing teachers. This whole shambles could have been contained if parents had demanded school choice with parents having the option of sending their child to a school which actually taught relevant knowledge and skills. Labour and its minions are against school choice and National seems to have no interest in it. Isn’t it ironic that teachers with several years of so called professional training now have to be taught how to teach reading! And is maths any better? Denis
Phonics is the best system for most children John
We have been slowly but surely failing our New Zealand children for the past 4 decades. Along with the demise of learning in Science and Mathematics is the equally unforgiveable failure to purposely develop memory capacity and vocabulary range. Heather
We have tolerated the dumbing down of education for some years now. I fail in this term of our current government to see why any Asian students would bother to enrol in the NZ system when there are many better countries to further their education. Liz
I wonder, too, how much the trend towards video clips instead of readable news exacerbates the problem Trevor
Phonics is very beneficial even for adults who have been brain-damaged from e.g., an accident. I used phonics successfully in helping a young adult relative to function again in daily living. Isabel
Our youngest child struggled to read until we moved to a new area and he met a teacher who took him under her wing and with phonics had him reading in months. phil
Reading, writing and mathematics form the basis of a general education. Further education requires a grounding of all three subjects. Gifford
Less emphasis on Maori and more on learning. I taught in special education in England for over 25;years and a structured system for learning was essential. I am still in contact with many of my former pupils who are grateful for that system as they now have good occupations and meaningful lives. John
Without doubt. The evidence has been there for a number of years. Young people are coming out of the education system not knowing the basics. The Big Three – Reading, Writing and Mathematics. WE, are failing them!!!!!! Grahame
Has been evident for some time now! Too much focus on politically correct material! Not enough on what will ultimately lead the child into a good working career. Hugh
It has been obvious since the late 70’s that something needs doing. That’s when it all started and various people along the way have contributed, sadly not for the better. About that time also is when the word “discipline” was done away with too. Did me no harm. However I believe it is a Socialist dream to dumb the populous down to a level whereby they totally comply and rely on the state to provide everything. Not sure where the dream goes when everybody is dumb! Graeme
Following in my fathers footsteps, I was always good at engineering and had a natural affinity, so never did an apprenticeship.At the age of 37 with a young family, and Rogernomics and the Wall St Crash, good jobs were scarcer than hens teeth. I enrolled at a Tech Institute night School to sit my Trade Cert straight off. I only had 2 years secondary school.. I very quickly found out what I didn’t know when it came to Math. I passed, but I never had to work so hard in my life. Following year I half of a NZCEng Mech. The 3rd Year Advanced Trade Cert. It was a breeze. I now have this love and respect for Math Physics and it eventually it led me into the world of Astro-physics. I see NZ being dumbed down by a bunch of stuffed shirts who know little of the real world and their shiny arses do little to instil a sense of achievement into our young people. I have 4 children. from the very first day they started school, I instilled in them, to never be afraid to sit up the front, and never be afraid to ask the teacher if you don’t understand something, and if that doesn’t work, go to the library,Education these days is so difficult for kids. One of our Grandsons is a whizz at Math, Why? Because Grandy & Nana taught him to play cribbage at age 6. Grandy taught him Chess from the same age. Both thinking games. Can’t rely on schools to teach thinking Ray
Past and more recent Governments have watered down education to appease the poorer people who are reliant on the welfare system and are mainly Maori and pacific islanders . The parents for those groups are lacking in basic education themselves so what future do they have in our changing world . This current Government want to cuddle the not so well off and make excuses for their failure ken
less time taken debating and learning Te Reo and Te Ao Maori and more time on basics that are needed for success in life. Aaron
We need to get back to marking students success by percentage, eg 0-100%, and not the system they use now which doesn’t really rate the student’s actual performance. Janet
It started going downhill when Lange introduced Tomorrows Schools David
Typical for New Zealand these days – in the 50 years I have lived in NZ, we have gone from a world leader in most areas to an “also ran” way down the bottom of the statistics. Much (but not all) of this lowering of excellence across the board is deliberate and ideology driven in my opinion. Roy
In my opinion, the basics are more important than trying to turn the minds of young children into good little socialists, putting them on guilt trips over being white, the treaty and how they should be feeling guilty for something that happened before they were born, global warming,(it isn’t man made, just a natural happening, whether they are a girl or a boy or somewhere in between. There is time enough for them (if they are interested) to look up this rubbish, once they have been educated properly. The rest of this is just claptrap, thought up by mind numbingly stupid lefties, who can’t stand anyone who has an original thought. Our Universities need cleaning out, and starting again, with a tenure of 8 year max, then go out and get a real job, see how the other half works and lives. Merryl
The PC demands from those who want to reduce all standards to the level of the lowest intellect will eventually nuke our technology sectors and industry. John
yes norman
Changes by this Labour LOT are making the literacy of our children and grandchildren a FAIL. Carl
Basic english David
Today’s parents only think that their children are being educated, because the children come home with numerous achievement certificates, which are quite meaningless. There is little emphasis on rereading, writing, spelling, grammar, and numeracy. Looked at my granddaughters (8yr old) years project recently, total indoctrination in Greens ideology. Fortunately her parents promote reading and an interest in the real world. As a grandparent, my support since the re-election of a communist government is going to be ‘to ensure that my grandchildren have an education that will prepare them for a future in the international world; they certainly aren’t going to have one in NZ, so a indepth education based on the STEEM subjects will be essential. Will be expensive, but hopefully I will achieve this before Shaw and comrades steal my savings. Bob
Absolutely. Stop filling school learning hours with Maori. It should be a matter of choice, not compulsory, replacing valuable hours of READING, WRITING AND ARITHMETIC as all their parents learned. Education is definitely a passport to a better future. The maori language is of no use internationally and definitely not a necessary subject. Let it be a matter of choice . Stop the separatist, sovereignty push for total control of the future of our nation. God Defend New Zealand and bring justice to rule for ALL NEW ZEALANDERS . CMM
Results tell it all. In comparison with other countries our school pupils are not doing well. It really is time for those who set the rules for our schools revised their thoughts. An alternate suggestion would be that these people be weeded out and sacked. Rob
BASIC learning are what alot of us over 40 were taught but NOW it,s all changed for children it,s MORE on climate change & racist learning HARDLEY anything else it,s time for parents to email chris hipkins without them emailing their disapproval NOTHING will change as labours goal is to make climate change/maori vievs MORE IMPORTANT than teaching children to read,write & spell,things they WILL NEED TO BE ABLE TO DO,computers/laptops are good but NOT if they are used TOO much in schools,BOOK learning gives a better education,let them learn things & use computers at homeTEACHING climate change/maori views are NOT needed in our schools ONLY BASIC LEARNING that our future children WILL NEED. Cindy
I believe it is extremely difficult to argue against this premise. John
they been going backwards for years barry
Abysmal. The left has so much to answer for. Helen
Don’t get the basics right and they will be set up to fail later in life. Ido
Education is a bureaucratic nightmare run by ideological leftist failures who act collectively on any issue. A classic case of group think. Tom
Reading fails to be a priority at primary and preprimary schools. Children who are unable to read will forever be unable to progress with further learning and so are bound to be forever poor. Tony
get the basics right david
If the foundation of learning is not secure the whole system fails Gareth
Absolutely essential! Cecilie
you only have to look at comments on the social media (Face Book etc) to see the level of basic education of our population. Especially in reading and writing/spelling areas. mike
Teach children to read very early, before they start school if possible. The majority of children should be reading well within three months of starting school. Then leave the teachers to teach writing and basic maths. Those times tables we learned have stuck for a lifetime. Paloma
The ‘three r’s’ of ‘reading, righting and rithmetic’ are by far the most important factors of education. Graham
definitely – dumbing down needs to stop russell
This decline in educational standards began in the 1960s, when universities were insidiously taken over by politically-correct, left-wing luvvies. This has led us to the present state of the education scene, which is peopled by teachers, who are themselves ill-educated and largely uninterested, and whose main objective appears to be to obtain ever higher remuneration for ever lower levels of output. I realise there are well-educated teachers who have the interests of the children at heart, and I wish to assure both of them that they are not included in this condemnation of their colleagues. I just wish there were more of them. TOBY
It sure does We arrived in this country over 50 years ago and determined then that the system was on the slippery slopes to nowhere. We had to send our young son to the best school in Auckland which had the desired result Tom
Our education system has been dumbed down. Fortunately my teenage grandchildren are doing very well at school despite that as their parents encouraged reading stories as enjoyment at home from their preschool age. Pauline
Logical and elementary David
Our education system caters for the top 30% and fails the rest. Just ask any employer. Kids leave secondary school without the three Rs previous generations learnt at primary school. Mark
Definitely and forget the te reo crap that is not used anywhere in the world John
Our son was, thankfully tutored by Doris Ferry in the 80’s! Until then he had made no progress! Politically correct NZ has still not got it right! Marianne
Eliminate social construct teaching and educate in history prior to NZ from 1840. Max
YES !! As an ex-teacher (primary & secondary) I see so many kids spending so much time outside the classroom and the profession so dominated by the PC brigade that I am very glad that I have nothing to do with education now. The unions and the politically correct have got the system in their grasp- hence its decline. It’s being used for propaganda to teach kids WHAT to think and not HOW to think. Roger
Our civilisation was built on an education system that concentrated on the basics. We must turn our backs on leftist fundamentalist meddling in our children%u2019s future and return to the systems proven to work over the generations. Lee
A no brainer, surely. But as an ex teacher myself, I recognize the truth of the old G B Shaw saying…”those who can, do,…..those who can’t, teach.”.ie don’t leave an obvious need to do something about our declining standards in the hands of our teacher union and the education bureaucracy. Ross
Stay with basics get away from Maori emphasis and the teachers political biases. Terry
We homeschooled and phonics was the way we taught reading. Darag
Most definitely. It is appalling how low our education system has sunk. Children are leaving school without the basics in so many cases. It is the main stepping stone for young people to have a better future. It’s failure is a blight on all our politicians. Helen
Of course Graeme
A most definite YES! Pam
Instead of the obsession with Maori language and silly culture taking up so much time. As for Helen Clark, I have always considered her to be trying to change the world to suit her socialist mantra. The present empty vessel leading this country has Helen Clarke guiding her. They want to keep the population dumbed down, dependent and controlled. Until NZers wake up to these two dangerous women, the decline will continue. It is shocking that a lot of our kids are not fluent in the basic skills to meet the work force needs, but with the generous welfare system, nothing will change and a percentage of our youth will leave school and create another generation, like their parents, of welfare dependency. Carolyn
These subjects are the foundation on which all future education depends. Mark
The education system that I grew up with in the 60’s and 70’s was a world leader and I thank god every day for it. I grew up with a love of books and knowledge, these days I look at the schools and despair, the schools churn out brainwashed sheeple who think global warming and the plandemic are real and ‘txt spk’ is writing and have never read a book for enjoyment. Going back to ‘phonics’ would be the best way to put NZ schools back at the top but I can’t see that happening while comrade Aderne has her hands round the throat of NZ. Sherrin
“While radicals blame poor statistics for Maori children on racism and colonisation, the answers usually lie in the home.” Forget the first part of this statement. Where is the evidence for the last part. I refer to Thomas Sowell who has studied the effect of the monopolistic state run education system on lower socio economic groups in the USA. The trouble lies not in racism , colonisation or in the home but in the school system which progressively is becoming and adult employment scheme more than a child education system. The remedy is to give parents greater school choice. Not only inside the present state system but the financial means to choose outside it. Mervyn
A return to old school values and standards and discipline. Stop the subversion of young impressionable minds with the obsession with climate change and disproportionate cultural content. Back to basics as opposed to agenda. Carol
Help, I can’t answer the 4 2 question! Murray
I have been concerned for years at the lack of emphasis on reading writing and arithmetic in our schools. I taught my own children to read phonicaly. Now in there 50%u2019s and successful. Bev
Absolutely Jack
With a so-called “educations system” that is turning out children that actually can’t read at the end of their time in school, something needs to be done! Ted
These socialists will destroy everything that ever worked Mike
Prof McNaghton is so right – reading is something that should be taught/begun BEFORE the child goes to (proper) school. It should be recognised as a parental responsibility and the school’s function should only be to improve the scope of reading. Furthermore, Te Reo has a negative effect as there is no real literature and a conflict of pronunciation. David
And less political brainwashing in the classroom Gerry
Yes, but I suspect that would show up too many teachers. John
Basic education is the solution to progress up the ladder of all achievements. No basics means no progress. Jim
Wasting time on an obsolete language, used nowhere else in the world is a major impediment o the 3 R’s Bob
I notice a lot of 20 year old do not engage in dialogue because they cannot articulate their thoughts. Graeme
As a teacher for 45 years it became apparent that discipline in the classroom was getting worse and worse because children could not read or write to an acceptable standard. The introduction of a second language towards the end of my career was the factor that encouraged me to give up in disgust at the way teaching was going. Andrew
The ‘three R’s’ have always been a basis for education and are absolutely essential for any level of achievement Robbie
At least prior to secondary school but continuing for those falling behind. Hans
Otherwise we will become 3rd world Richard
Hugely so, class sizes need to be looked at, all teachers need teacher aides as there needs to be more emphasis on small group learning in order to cater for children%u2019s learning needs. Anne
But arithmetic not mathematics. Need to be able to add, subtract and multiply Terry
Must Definitely Geoffrey
Definitely. Kids need to learn, not be filled up with propaganda. willy
A far, far, far greater emphasis. Jim
After teaching for several years I left for overseas in 1970. I returned 3 years later to find that what I had taught in Std 3/4 was now being taught in Std. 5/6. I still relief teach and am appalled at the inability of students to read – and comprehend it, write Legibly, spell correctly and often cannot think beyond level one. Basic maths is a mystery to about 20% of students. General knowledge is very poor to the extent that when asked for a river in the North Island they give the answer Lake Taupo! This in level one to ten schools. Cheryl
Correct.Numeracy and literacy are vital.The linch pin is parental involvement from birth onwards.The Singapore model has it right. gale
If I have a free minute I read, anything will do,. From this I learn something new every day. If you dont learn something everyday you are effectively dead. Richard
Not socialist indoctrination Greg
A further comment on the teaching of basics and the debate on phonics. Teaching of te reo depends on the use of phonics and learners recognizing groups of letters and the sound of their use in speech. If phonics is OK in te reo it should be OK in English. Alastair
Definitely. A very important platform for all. Doug
Like, the standids ov English didn’t not never oughta have bean like this their hear … ummm … Ross
After 23 years teaching at low decile schools I have no doubt that the emphasis needs to change back towards ingraining basic skills – being able to handle these basics easily opens so many doors in life that ignoring, or down playing them seems incomprehensible. Marie Clay doomed so many children to a second class life. Alastair
can not read…………..!! RICHard
Absolutely but try making progress in this direction with the Parliament we have elected.A PM whose job CV says wrapping fish and chips and then add the rabble of dumbos ,racial activists,the team of Gay misfits,Green Waco’s ,failed business people and just incompetents.Most of this rabble can’t add, write or speak properly do what hope for reform.Zilch. Don
Old ways of teaching the basics worked Kevin
……and cut out the maori hindering language…………teach universal English so that people can get on in the greater world . Roy
needs a total overhaul, including educating some of the teachers Erin
And the sciences behind environmental sustainability instead of the rhetoric associated with so called climate change Greg
It certainly does why are we using systems that have been tried in other countries found they don’t work so are thrown out yet we persist Peter
Too much time and money being spent on Maori language Maori culture Jimmy
In education, as in many other fields, people with trendy ideas become known as “experts”. They then can’t see the obvious failings of their ideas. Why “invent the wheel” ? Jack
Statistics show that children need the basics of reading, writing, and maths to succeed in ALL learning. Joyce
The Dumbing down of America could have been written about NZ, author Charlotte Iserbyte she has been onto this for years. The book is available on line at no cost. Jenny
Children should be taught how to learn, not what to learn. George
Focus on the three r’s. Stop using the education system to indoctrinate. Bruno
NZ was a leader in literacy. Other nations admired us. We introduced half baked ideas from failing countries and now we are failing ourselves miserably. Peter
No-brainer Sharen
Learning to read text without phonics is like learning to read music without knowing what the notes are. Alan
I have thought for many years that the unions have hijacked education and dumbed it down to suit their members. Just look at private schools to see what consistently great results should be being achieved Murray
They are the cornerstone of education, and other subjects are now being forced upon the children, thus diluting the core subjects, once known as the 3R’s, Reading, Riting & Rithmetic, excuse the spelling. John
Far too many adults simply cannot fill out simple forms in everyday life. Drivers license, applications for a job or even unemployment benefit applications. Tim
absolutely Rita
My son had a reading disability until he found a book that he was interested in. Only then did his compression start to develop Reg
Since we are failing so badly of course we do! Ray
It is shocking that so many kids leave school unable to read, write and do maths properly, after more than ten years of schooling. What an indictment of the system. Simon
Helen Clark was responsible for wrecking NZ education. At the time she was warned this was a dangerous experiment. But she was determined to bring in her progressive approach. She has ruined thousands of children’s lives. Richard
Education used to be the escalator for disadvantaged kids to gain a better life. Now these socialists have put a stop to that. Their aim is to keep people dependent on the State. It is appalling.  Mary
Yes, yes, yes – far too many kids don’t know the basics. Tony
National left Helen Clark’s reforms in place. And all ACT is worried about is charter schools. So where is the impetus for sensible reform going to come from? Will National suddenly see the light? Not likely! Bruce