September 22, 2023

Home Education in New Zealand

13 November 2007 – Home Education Foundation – Dangerous Schools
Press Release
For Immediate Release”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

Parents and teachers at Christchurch’s Paparoa Street School are to be
commended for initiating extra security for children awaiting uplifting
from school. It is too dangerous to walk to and from school or play in
the park anymore.

Parents would do well to also investigate the dangers inside the
government schooling institutions, in the classrooms and on the
playgrounds. Five years ago Kapiti Primary School principal Graham
Conner said, “People have been talking about (drug use) being
commonplace in college for a long time. If you’d asked me four months
ago about it in primary schools, I would have laughed. I guess I was
quite naive. I think it’s the tip of the iceberg now.” All indications
are that it is getting worse, not better.

Children are exposed to indecent assault from teachers and other
children. We get the occasional story coming to light of teachers
seducing students, but it is generally hushed up very quickly, such as
the 13-year-old Palmerston North girl who was groped continually by boys
in class in August last year whose complaints to the teacher went
unheeded; or the teacher/paedophiles like Derek Humphries and William
Blaine who unbelievably preyed on kids undetected for an even more
unbelievable cumulative total of 75 years before being caught. The most
devastated of all are the parents who said, “That would never happen at
our school.”

The politically correct nature of the curriculum ensures that absolute
rights and wrongs are not addressed, and that children in government
schools are being indoctrinated with the message that lifestyles and
philosophies that are both hostile and subversive to many of the
children’s parents are instead normal and healthy. The school culture,
the teachers and the fellow students all compete for the government
school child’s obedience, affection and loyalty sometimes in aggressive
and overt competition to the child’s obedience, affection and loyalty to
his own parents.

Parents are increasingly required to shell out more and more in terms of
fees, resources and volunteer time and labour to keep the collapsing
government school system afloat. They would be well rewarded if they
simply kept their children at home and provided a real-world education

Craig & Barbara Smith

Serving, promoting, defending, publishing and lobbying for Christian and
secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.

“Unless we press the crown rights of the King in every realm, we shall
not retain them in any realm.” — Cornelius Van Til.

11 November 2007 – NZCPR Weekly – Selling Our Children Short

Selling Our Children Short new primary and secondary school curriculum was launched this week amidst fanfare claiming that it is leading edge and progressive. However, the new curriculum may well sell New Zealand children?? and teachers – short.

The Prime Minister explained that the curriculum represented a shift away from knowing facts and figures to developing the skills to apply them outside the classroom. The Minister of Education stated that the new curriculum would focus on sustainability, climate change, and that all students would have the opportunity to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Reo Maori and Tikanga Maori.

The NZCPR Guest Commentator this week is Dr Kevin Donnelly, an education consultant and author who believes that the government is taking New Zealand in the wrong direction with the new curriculum:

??The recently released New Zealand Curriculum adopts an outcomes-based education model. It defines the purpose of education with clichés like:??actively involved’,??lifelong learning’,??connected’,??learning to learn’ and??active seekers, users and creators of knowledge’. Teachers are described as facilitators, students become knowledge navigators and more structured and formal approaches to classroom interaction give way to group work, inquiry learning and extended projects. In some cases, based on the assumption that children learn at different rates and in different ways, learning is described as developmental and nobody fails as all are guaranteed success ??. (To read the article, click here

Kevin explains that an outcomes based approach to education is essentially experimental having only ever been adopted by a handful of countries. The majority of nations that outperform New Zealand in international tests have retained more traditional standards-based syllabus models.

In the USA, the outcomes-based model has proved such a failure that??the overwhelming majority of states are implementing a standards approach to curriculum. Both a syllabus and a standards approach have a strong subject discipline focus, are related to year levels, embrace more formal methods of teaching and provide curriculum road maps that are clear, concise, teacher friendly and detailed ??.

Kevin also points out that the new curriculum will place??excessive and debilitating demands ?? on classroom teachers as they are required to become curriculum designers?? on top of being social workers and surrogate parents for increasing numbers of children. Requiring schools to design their own curriculum is a daft idea. While it sounds progressive, the reality is that large numbers of New Zealand schools and their teachers are struggling just to keep their heads above water and to ask them to take on the specialised task of curriculum development as well, is misguided.

Similarly, the commitment to??personalised ?? learning for students, that is central to the curriculum, is another overly ambitious goal. Again, while it sounds good, to expect teachers to be able to give personalised attention to 20 or 30 children who are all??doing their own thing’ during a single classroom lesson is totally unrealistic.

The approach that has been foisted on schools has replaced academic rigour, defined standards and a proper testing regime with the concepts of participation and progress. While these are no doubt worthy in their own right, the notion of protecting children from failure while they are at school – which underpins this approach to education – defies human nature. Life is all about achieving ones potential, and competition is what extends that potential even higher.

In the new curriculum, the government is also abandoning the time-honoured tradition of educating children through the transmission of an acceptable body of knowledge. The problem is, however, that replacing knowledge with skills leaves many students at risk of finishing school with a range of eclectic proficiencies, but without the basic knowledge to read, write or calculate properly.

In fact, given the not insignificant number of non-academic students whose aspirations for the future are the dole and the domestic purposes benefit, what New Zealand desperately needs is a curriculum that introduces a separate high quality vocational training programme designed to engage such youngsters and provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to get a worthwhile job.

The fragmentation of education, caused by a curriculum which directs schools to address issues in their own time and in their own way, also leaves teachers and students extremely vulnerable to political manipulation. Using a??divide and rule’ strategy, a ruling party can represent its political ideology as educational principles or values which it then requires schools to teach. This is certainly the case with??sustainability’ and??climate change’, key Labour Party policies, which they have now embedded into the curriculum.

But it gets worse. As a result of intense political pressure from vested interest groups, the Treaty of Waitangi, which was dumped from the draft curriculum, has been re-instated to become a guiding principle in the way New Zealand children are taught. The Treaty has now become a key component of the official education policy and a central part of the government’s vision for the curriculum.

This turnaround, signals just how dangerously politicised the curriculum has become. Teachers are now expected to teach children that the Treaty of Waitangi conferred full??partnership’ privileges to Maori. Not only is the partnership theory a myth, but it is also ironic that a Prime Minister, who refused to say grace when the Queen attended a State dinner, can make the teaching of Maori spirituality in schools compulsory.

The blatant politicisation of the curriculum reaffirms my belief that New Zealand children need to be protected from political indoctrination in the same way that British children are protected. That entails inserting a clause into the Education Act not only to expressly prohibit the teaching of partisan politics, but to require that when political matters are being discussed, an alternative view is presented as well.

If you believe that children should be protected from governments that treat education as a means of instilling their political beliefs into the next generation, then please support the NZCPR petition to Parliament: download the petition form off the website, collect as many signatures as you can and send it in – for more information click here

What has been most surprising about the new school curriculum launch is the relative silence. Notwithstanding stories about those who should have been expected to speak out being told to pull their heads in by people in high places, the response from the majority of the ten thousand submitters who opposed aspects of the draft curriculum has been muted. There appears to be little concern about the fact that the curriculum takes New Zealand in the opposite direction to countries with strong traditions of excellence in education, nor about the excessive burdens it places on teachers and schools. Not only that, but the introduction of key aspects of Labour’s political ideology into the curriculum has met with a resounding silence.

The question is whether this silence is an indicator of widespread support for the curriculum, or whether it is a sign of the extent to which state intimidation has infiltrated into every nook and cranny within our society.

If you think that more and more people are afraid to speak their mind these days, then wait until the government’s Electoral Finance Bill to ban free speech in election year becomes the law?? then, under threat of prosecution if they get it wrong, people will be really afraid to speak out. If this concerns you then I urge you to read what John Boscawen, a private citizen who receives these weekly NZCPR newsletters, is doing to fight the Electoral Finance Bill. Click here to read about how John is taking the government to court over the Bill and how he is organising a protest march for next Saturday starting at 10am at the Auckland Town Hall?? for more details click here

This week’s poll asks: Are you are satisfied that the direction of the new curriculum is in the best interests of New Zealand students. Go to Poll

If you would like to comment on this issue please click
Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested. A printer-friendly version can be found on the website.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please email

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.

=============================================================================== New Zealand Home Educators:

Here is a letter from the Ministry saying Home Educators do not need to follow the National Curriculum Guidelines, the list of subjects on the Exemption Application. Use them if you like, but you are free to change them around to quite an extent.

Dennis Hughes and Derek Miller of the Ministry of Education in Wellington answered the following question for me on 15 June 2000:

Question:??Are any of the National Curriculum objectives required for home educators in order to get their exemptions? My understanding is that none of them are. ??

Answer:??You are correct. There is no requirement that homeschoolers follow the National Curriculum. The only requirement is that homeschooling students are taught??at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.

??The Ministry’s interpretation of this phrase is contained in the statement which forms part of the information pack that accompanies the homeschooling application form. Among other things, this says that??Ministry officers will look for some evidence of planning and balance that we would expect would be a feature of curriculum organisation in any registered school.

??The National Curriculum is useful to the Ministry as a standard reference when determining whether a homeschooler’s programme is a balanced one. Homeschooling offers an opportunity for greater organisational flexibility than is possible in many schools, and Ministry staff would normally be understanding if a homeschooler adopts a holistic approach to curriculum management. But if, for example, a homeschooling programme gives free reign to a student’s interest in computer-related studies but appears to give limited time to the development of communications skills and physical skills, then a Ministry official would be right to ask for a more balanced programme. ??

10 November 2007 – Home Education Foundation

Home Education Foundation
Press Release
For Immediate DistributionFriday’s Manawatu Standard had two front-page examples of the long-established and growing industry of institutionalised child abuse. First, a local school was so consumed by its commitment to administrative rules that a student was banned from attending and from “getting an education”. And second, the Ministry of Education looks the other way while a college principal sexually abuses students.

This is on top of the other two most recent nation-wide indications of this Ministry targeting children for destruction: releasing a dumbed-down School Curriculum and appointing a sodomite activist as Minister of Education. The student banned from attending was not “getting an education” in any traditional sense anyway, and with this new curriculum is now assured of missing out on one. Perhaps the college principal was in his mind only helping students further the health and physical education component of their studies. With a homosexual now directing government schools, concerned parents are dreaming if they think he won’t use his position to further his sodomite agenda among their children.

Both Labour and the sodomites have long used the schools and their captive audiences to shamelessly recruit innocents to their causes. The Christchurch Press of 5 November 1985 reported how then Under Secretary of Trade and Industry Mr Neilson planned to introduce Peace Studies into schools to make children perceive Labour as “the natural party of Government”. In 1990 then Finance Minister David Caygill was fond of saying how Government should mould public opinion, not follow it. And what better way than to force children to attend Government indoctrination centres six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year for 10 years? Well, there are better ways, and we see them being promoted all the time: further separate and alienate children from their parents, siblings and cultural norms by getting the children into state-sponsored day care at ever-earlier ages and extending the school-leaving age. The sodomites manipulated the Ministry to change sex education to sexuality education; in fact the new curriculum requires it throughout both primary and secondary levels. Sodomites and homosexual promotionals have access to classrooms via visits from Rainbow Youth, Family Planning, OutThere, Aids Foundation and others. They all understand that what past PPTA President Phil Capper said is true: that public schooling is an exercise in social engineering by definition.

This new school curriculum “represents a shift away from focusing on knowing facts and figures” as Prime Minister Helen Clark put it, and instead pushes so-called “competencies” such as “managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing.” It “explores relationships in quantities, space and data” while never admitting to teaching anything like addition facts or timestables or calculation techniques but only “using calculation methods in flexible ways.” The curriculum lists among its guiding principles the valuing of cultural histories (but never teaches history) and the principles of inclusiveness and non-discrimination while studiously excluding the Christian law, morality, sociology and history which are foundational to even a basic understanding of New Zealand’s unique cultural identity.

Parents need to wake up and rescue their children from these socially and intellectually dangerous environments. Find a decent private school or better still, teach them at home, a comprehensive educational methodology that research has shown to be vastly superior to conventional classroom instruction. The state needs to fulfill its responsibility of providing safe environments for children. It can do this very effectively by removing the compulsory attendance clauses from the Education Act and allowing for the expansion of private schools and home education.

Craig & Barbara Smith

Serving, promoting, defending, publishing and lobbying for Christian and
secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.

8 November 2007 – SPCS – Concerns Raised Over Minister and Gay Agenda

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Inc.
P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville Raised Over Minister and Gay Agenda

Press Release 8 November 2007

The Society has grave concerns about the appropriateness of New Zealand having an “openly gay” Minister of Education, given his track record of aggressive pro-gay rights activism. It is alarmed that the Minister, the Hon. Chris Carter, is now responsible, among other things, for ensuring that all our children and young persons are inculcated with the recently announced New Curriculum Values programme?? that stresses among other things, “celebration of diversity” as a “core value”?? a PC- code phrase for the acceptance and celebration of the homosexual and lesbian lifestyle as a valid alternative to normal heterosexual relationships and marriage.

The Society believes that most New Zealand parents DO want diversity celebrated?? but only in the best sense of the word and this does NOT include celebrating immoral lifestyles. We greatly value cultural and racial diversity, the distinctive and unique contribution of the two genders, varied religious traditions and beliefs, as well as all the wonderful diversity among individuals. However, we do NOT want unnatural, unhealthy, immoral sexual practices central to the promiscuous heterosexual and/or homosexual/lesbian lifestyles, either taught, demonstrated, advanced, normalised, legitimised, validated, or proclaimed, in any shape or form in New Zealand school curriculum. Instead most New Zealanders want the lasting benefit of committed marriage between a man and woman, life-long fidelity, and good, loving, moral family values emphasised in any values programme.

They detest the fact that our schools are becoming the recruiting grounds for tax-payer funded and/or subsidised homosexual prosyletising activities run by Rainbow??health’ zealots, bent on foisting their “safe sex” and unnatural sex practices on vulnerable school children. These social engineering programmes are well underway?? led by by those who have believed the lie that by normalising and celebrating homosexual sexual activity, young people will gain self-esteem and true happiness.

For More on Minister Carter and the Gay Agenda go to:

30 October 2007 – Home Education Foundation – Compulsory School Fees

30 October 2007 3:19 p.m.
Subject: Press Release — Compulsory School Fees
For Immediate PublicationSchools complain the government isn’t funding its own institutions properly and demand the right to charge compulsory fees. So how do they justify both compulsory attendance and compulsory fees to attend? Typical Marxist solution.

Let schools demand the repeal of the Education Act’s compulsory attendance clauses. Then they can reasonably charge what fees they like. If government schools were so good, they wouldn’t need to compel children to attend, would they? Don’t bleat about children not getting an education if not compelled to attend. How about those who do attend and still don’t get an education? The Ministry of Social Development’s website carries a report declaring that 46% of adult NZers are not literate enough to compete in today’s economy (see The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy says “foundation studies” (teaching literacy to those who just completed 10 years of compulsory state schooling) is no longer a fringe but a core activity of universities (see page 22).

Home educators are not part of this ridiculous circus and are very glad we rescued our children from these increasingly violent, drug soaked and morally perverted institutions of political indoctrination. It is interesting to note that the single largest professional group represented among home schooling families is that of state school teacher.

Craig & Barbara Smith

Serving, promoting, defending, publishing and lobbying for Christian and
secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.

Teachers protest at school violence protest at school violence
5:00AM Tuesday September 25, 2007
By Derek Cheng

Schools are becoming increasingly violent.

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It is a daily struggle for teacher Judy Firkins to manage her 5- and 6-year-old children at Jean Batten School in Mangere.

She has been punched, been struck by objects thrown at her and had to restrain children attacking other pupils in her decile 1 classroom.

“How much more stress do we have to cope with and how resilient does a teacher have to be before we get practical help with these students?” she said in a passionate address to the New Zealand Educational Institute annual meeting in Wellington yesterday.

“As a senior, experienced teacher, these children are demoralising and destroying my enthusiasm to provide an exciting and vibrant programme.”

Mrs Firkins, who has been teaching for 35 years, told the Herald she had taken several blows from one boy while trying to protect other pupils.

“He just fisticuffed me and I ended up with bruises on my chest,” she said.

“I have one child in the class … I cannot physically handle him. I think he’s learned that the way to cope with anger is violence, and I get worried about the safety of my children and myself in this vulnerable situation.

“And you’re just wasting so much valuable teaching time.”

Mrs Firkins was one of several teachers at the meeting to express deep concerns over the impact of increasingly aggressive children.

They spoke about how disruption – including physical and verbal attacks from children as young as 2 – was eroding classroom safety and the quality of education.

A New Zealand Educational Institute report based on a survey at the end of last year found that one in seven primary school teachers had been hit by students last year, and 58 per cent reported “aggressive verbalconfrontations” with students.

Dealing with it came at a high personal cost to many teachers, who have to cope with emotional stress, physical injuries and sapping conditions.

“This has become a norm: you can expect to walk into your room every day and know someone is going to make your life hell,” said Tauranga teacher Graham Woodhead, who teaches 10- and 11-year-olds.

Early childhood education teacher Diane Lawrence said: “It doesn’t only happen in [primary] schools, it starts well before then – the throwing of chairs, the biting, the hitting, the verbal stuff [from 3- or 4-year-olds] and younger. There has been a huge increase in the time since I’ve been teaching [1981].”

Union members at the meeting backed the institute’s report, which endorsed a wider community and Government response to a problem that had its roots outside the classroom.

“We have to change the way people behave, we have to change the way people think, stop these kids from thinking it’s okay to behave like that,” said the institute’s national vice-president, Frances Nelson.

She said the institute would now seek feedback from community groups and the Government on how to address the problem.

Mother sold on home schooling on link to see photo of family

By Alexia Johnston
Children around Ashburton are celebrating Maori Language Week this week, but for some it is a part of their everyday life.
Mother of five Kiri Parata home-schools four of her children to ensure te reo is correctly incorporated into all of their subjects.
Her eldest daughter, Blossom, who is at Ashburton Intermediate, plans to join her siblings next year.
??I will be home-schooling her next year but she wanted to see Intermediate through, which has been good for her. ??
Three of Mrs Parata’s children had been attending Allenton School before they began the home-schooling option last year.
Her youngest child, Zayvia, joins in the lessons but also attends pre-school.
It was while Mrs Parata’s children were at Allenton School that she became aware of the incorrect pronunciation of the language that her children were being taught.
She was also concerned that te reo was a dying art.
??I think it’s quite important. For me it’s a language you don’t hear anymore. ??
Now her children Missy, 11, Teanahera, 7, Kiriana, 6, and Zayvia, 3, use te reo in all of their lessons.
Mrs Parata said they were not yet fluent in the language but were building the confidence to do so in the future.
??I’ve noticed a huge change, just in their confidence. ??
Blossom was looking forward to joining her brother and sisters at home next year.
??I like the fact that you can stay on the subjects longer instead of moving round. ??
She said getting some one-on-one time when she needed it would be an added bonus.
Mrs Parata teaches her children what she already knows and also uses resources from her tribe, Kaitahu.
She had no previous teaching experience before taking on the challenge and has been balancing her own study while educating her children.
Last week she completed security guard studies and is currently studying sign language.
But Mrs Parata has no plans to slow down just yet.
??I will eventually take what I’m teaching to my children to the schools as well, ?? she said.
Performing arts and activities are incorporated into her lessons to make learning fun.
Mid Canterbury Principals’ Association chair Ann Wise said the Maori culture should be supported throughout all schools.
A new resource recently launched for senior students in primary schools was helping to do that by teaching children the correct pronunciation of te reo.
??It’s an area that should be encompassed through all areas, ?? she said.
Mrs Parata was at the Ashburton Public Library with her children on Saturday, where they passed on their knowledge of te reo to others as part of Maori Language Week.
Celebrations of the Maori language will continue throughout the country until Sunday.
July 24 2007

March 2007 Home Education Foundation – Business as Usual – NZ

Dear Friends,I sent out the press release below, in response to the school inmate who
was attacked by fellow inmates at Waiuku College (see and watch the film clips
there….unbelievable…well, no, they are totally believable, but to
realise this stuff goes on virtually everyday). And I was rung straight
away by Radio Live and recorded a message. Doesn’t appear to be on their
website yet (4:00pm 1 March) at so don’t know if or when it has been or will be aired.Anyway, it is encouraging to know that press releases are getting read
now and then.

Really, I think we need to help rescue more children out the state
schooling system. It’s no place for children. Get the children out and
let the place collapse.


Craig & Barbara Smith
Serving, promoting, defending, publishing and lobbying for Christian and secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.

Press Release
For Immediate distribution

1 March 2007

Business as Usual

The violence at Waiuku College is only business as usual. Seasoned
school social workers tell me that the physical, sexual and text
bullying at schools is out of control. Drug dealing at primary schools
is a regular fact today. Kapiti Primary School principal Graham Conner
confessed he used to be naïve, but that the dealing on his campus was
only the tip of the iceberg.(1) Kawerau College principal Steve Hocking
said, “Any secondary school that reckons they don’t have a drug problem
is probably burying its head in the sand.”(2) Post Primary Teachers
Association president Jen McCutcheon said “There are commonly three,
four or five kids who are severely disruptive in every class.”(3)

Compulsory schooling has so alienated parents from their own children
and from their parenting responsibilities, that we now regularly hear parents rejoicing to have their own children off their hands and back in school. Dr John Clark at Massey University says the primary reason we have schooling institutions is as a baby sitting service.(4) Massey’s past Vice-Chancellor, Sir Neil Waters, said schools exist to socialise
children, “otherwise it wouldn’t take so long. You don’t need 15 years
to educate somebody but you need 15 years to socialise somebody.”(5)

The late Professor Graham Nuthall of Canterbury University said,
“[S]tudent learning is not the focus of what goes on in schools….. Put
simply, the education system is a fraud.”(6) Phillip Capper, past
president of the PPTA, said, “What I would like to see in the political
debate about education is a recognition that public education is an
exercise in social engineering by definition.”(7) So if school
administrators and the MoE want to blame parents or society in general
for the violence on campus, remember that it was the schools that
engineered the parents and society to be the way they are!

The Ministry of Social Development says on its website that the proportion of New Zealander’s aged 16-65, almost all of whom passed through NZ state schools, who do not
have the literacy skills in English at a suitable minimum for coping
with the demands of everyday life and work in a complex, advanced
society, is a whopping 46 per cent!This is gross failure by any standard. But this is the New Zealand state
school system. This is in spite of the teachers in the system, most of
whom are thoroughly devoted to the children, some of whom are absolutely
brilliant, all of whom are being asked to do the impossible. Even so,
there’s no reason to abandon our children to such institutions. We’ve
kept all eight of ours at home over the last 26 year and educated them
ourselves. With the one-to-one tutoring of homeschooling, you can hardly fail.

1.Dominion, 24 June 2002, “Primary school drug use tip of iceberg”,,1103,1243838a11,FF.html
2.Stuff, 14 May 2002, “All schools have drug problems – principal”,,1103,1201748a1801,FF.html
3.Dominion, 21 May 2002, “Five disruptive kids a class, say teachers”,,1103,1203494a1701,FF.html
4.Dr John Clark, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Education, Department
of Policy Studies in Education, Massey University, from his course notes for Understanding Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1997.5.LEARN Magazine, Issue 10, November 1996, p. 8, Sir Neil Waters, Past
Vice-Chancellor of Massey University, NZ Qualifications Authority Board

6. Full quote: One of our major findings, based on many years of
research in many classrooms, is that student learning is not the focus
of what goes on in schools. We found that most teachers, most of the
time, do not know what their students are learning or not learning. We
give awards to our best teachers without paying any attention to what
their students learn. The Education Review Office evaluates the
effectiveness of schools without obtaining any direct evidence about
student learning. The Qualifications Authority accredits courses and
institutions without paying any attention to whether students in those
courses or institutions are learning anything or not. The Ministry of
Education carries out “network reviews” of schools (amalgamating smaller schools) without any evidence about whether the changes will affect
student learning. Put simply, the education system is a fraud. –
Professor Emeritus Graham Nuthall, University of Canterbury, New
Zealand, March 2004.

7.Dominion Sunday Times, 14 October 1990.

Craig & Barbara Smith
Serving, promoting, defending, publishing and lobbying for Christian and secular home educators in NZ and overseas since 1986.


Annual PPTA Conference Horror Stories-September 2006 – NZ

Published as Letter to the Editor (Vox Populi – Communiques) Investigate Magazine – November 2006 IssueThe stories coming out of the annual PPTA conference are horrendous: overcrowded classrooms are often war zones where drugs are dealt and assaults on persons and property are commonplace. Teachers blame the parents. Parents blame the teachers.

It is the parents’ fault. For generations they’ve allowed the schools and teachers to ignore, challenge and undermine their parental authority. They’ve put up with dumbed-down, politically correct curriculum. In good faith they’ve sent their children into environments saturated with verbal and physical abuse, places where the peer groups breed self-centred, irresponsible and immoral attitudes. Yet the parents thought these things didn’t happen??at our school ??. Fact is, parents rarely have any idea what goes on in the classroom or on the schoolgrounds, though they are aware of the flu, diarrhoea, TB and head lice epidemics that sweep through these institutions with incredible speed and regularity.

It’s the teachers’ fault. They’ve been trained to consider themselves as the experts and that many parents are incompetent. After dealing with a few rat-bag kids, teachers are convinced it’s true of nearly all parents. Teachers reckon children must be separated from these dolts (the parents) and herded together to socialise one another to the lowest common denominator. They’ve also been trained to hold all cultures, moral codes and lifestyles as equally valid They are not to assume they are??teachers ?? with a useful body of knowledge to pass on. They are now??facilitators ?? to help children, as a group, construct their own body of relevant knowledge from pre-selected, politically correct, secular sources.

It’s the system’s fault. It was designed to drive a wedge of alienation between parents and children. It was designed to intellectually dumb down the population into malleable units who wouldn’t challenge the political or industrial elite but would be resigned to??life-long learning ?? of what these??experts ?? said they needed to know. It was designed to replace the church with the secular government school as the centre of community life. With both the family and church marginalized to near irrelevancy, the individual became mostly separated from either, a sitting duck for intimidation and control by a growing government bureaucracy with increasingly totalitarian tendencies.

As succeeding generations of parents felt increasingly disconnected from both their children and their parenting tasks because the state required them to send their precious children away to be raised by agents of the state for six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year for ten years, abdication of parental responsibility seemed normal. After all, everyone else did it. And it became normal for schools to take on more and more parenting tasks to where today many schools toilet train and feed as well as provide pastoral care and counselling services. And it became normal for children to be even more ill-behaved and undisciplined than the year before. This year’s PPTA conference horror stories illustrate the point, as did last year’s horror stories. Teachers have gotten it off their chests, parents remain oblivious since it all happens in another world to theirs, so nothing substantial will be done, and society completes another loop in the downward spiral.

While there are some exceptional schools around, they are exceptions. If the government could see past its desire for maximum control and encourage home education, where parents teach and train up their own children at home, we would see a growth in de-institutionalised thinking, a growth in parental responsibility, healthier and more connected family life, stronger academics, more practical down-to-earth learning and less of the me-centred brand of socialisation than we’ve seen in ages. Such people are at the cutting edge of our civil and religious liberties. Their efforts in these areas would benefit us all.


25 July 2006 – The challenge of starting school – NZ,2106,3742981a6527,00.html

The PressThe challenge of starting school
25 July 2006

They’ve had their fifth birthday and now it’s school time – but are they ready? PAUL FOCAMP looks at what is needed for the huge variety of children entering our schools.

It is the moment many parents dread. They stand with their wee one at the school gate – the point of departure for their son or daughter into an institution that begins a 15-year weaning of child from mother and father.

Some children let go of their parent’s hand and positively bound in, but others weep and scream at the sight of their departing mother, pleading to be excused from the daunting edifice of buildings, rules, teachers and bigger children.

Others, whether they want to go or not, are hopelessly ill prepared for the demands of school. One principal in a low-income part of town estimates that 75 per cent of the new entrants at her school are not ready and make little progress in the first six months.
New Zealand expects its children to start primary schooling earlier than many other countries, where the starting age is often six.

Some academics have suggested that boys may be disadvantaged by starting school at five and point to the literacy-topping Scandinavian nations where children begin their formal schooling at seven.
Could we be making our young start school too soon?
Cathy Newbigging, of Christchurch, believes her son, Dandas, is not ready for school. His twin sister, Rose, was raring to go to school when she turned five last week. But Dandas went home with Mum.

He is overwhelmed when he is with large numbers of other children and “emotionally, he’s a bit behind for his age”, says Newbigging.

She is relieved New Zealand gives parents flexibility because “not everybody is ready” at five.

Researchers have discussed differences between boys and girls, but it is a controversial topic.

Retired academic Warwick Elley says that in the early 1990s he detected gaps between boys’ and girls’ reading abilities in countries where children went to school at five. It was also noticeable that the top nations in literacy surveys set their school age at seven.

But New Zealand’s start-at-five tradition is very strong and changing it would cause too much upheaval for parents needing to return to the workplace, Elley says.

North New Brighton principal Gina Holland also supports starting children at five but says three-quarters of her new entrants are not ready for school on arrival.

Poor behaviour is a problem and new arrivals often lack the motor skills to hold a pencil properly or get themselves changed for swimming.

North New Brighton has more than its share of struggling families and children often reveal their disadvantaged origins when they start school, says Holland.

“Many haven’t been read to; there’s no exposure to books. Sometimes they haven’t been talked to enough. There’s not a lot of progress for six months.”
To overcome this poor start, Holland suggests a transition or readiness-for-school class: “We have been talking about it but staffing would be difficult,” she says.

Kathleen Liberty, senior lecturer in education at the University of Canterbury, says adults often forget how challenging school can be for someone still developing mentally and physically, with low levels of experience.

“It can be very stressful. School is really overwhelming,” she says.

A child cannot just leave the mat because a story is boring or walk out of a room to go to the toilet.
“School is a completely different world with a whole new set of rules.” Eating at lunchtime is even completely different because school children must eat to a timetable.

Youngsters who are bullied may not tell their parents because they lack the knowledge or vocabulary to explain what is happening to them.

The academic challenges can dent self-esteem, too, says Liberty.

Many children do not grasp that learning to read takes years. Unlike going down a slide, “you don’t learn it in one trip to the playground”.

Physical conditions can compound problems for children. A mild case of glue ear may not be detected and may prevent a child from picking vowel differences in the middle of words, says Liberty. “Met and meat” may sound the same to a child struggling to follow a teacher’s directions. A five-year-old who cannot hear things that friends do, may fret and ask: “Am I thick?”

But despite any such difficulties, Liberty does not believe a change in the starting age of five is necessary.

New Zealand scores strongly in international child-literacy tests, she says. Kiwis rank seventh in the OECD when rated on the organisation’s combined reading, scientific and mathematical literacy scales.
She also points out that what we expect of new entrants in New Zealand primary schools is comparable to what five-year-olds are expected to achieve in many preschools overseas.

Stuart McNaughton, Professor of Education at the University of Auckland, believes that New Zealand’s internationally distinctive staggered intake – 95 per cent of new entrants arrive on their fifth birthday – means teachers can be sensitive to the needs of new entrants as they arrive.

Reading Recovery and other safety-net programmes mean New Zealand is well equipped to detect and help children who initially struggle, he says.

But both McNaughton and Liberty are concerned that New Zealand trains its primary teachers for three years – one year less than most of our international peers.
Liberty says the training is “not up to international standard – which is four years”, and while the training colleges produce good teachers, the abbreviated training could leave teachers under pressure in the classroom.

There are more children coming to school who cannot speak English or who are from poverty-stricken solo-parent families.

“These children require different teaching. It’s (the training) not enough,” she says.

McNaughton says a fourth year should be used to give teachers an academic grounding in how children from a variety of backgrounds learn. More research is needed too, particularly on children from different backgrounds who speak English as a second language.

“We don’t know enough about bilingual development. We need proper understanding (from more research) before we can prepare teachers.” Too often opportunities to advance a child’s learning are missed because traditional assessments “act as blinkers” to alternative ways that some children might be using to build knowledge.”Many Pacific children know about reading from Sunday School where they have learned texts and verses, but we don’t assess for that,” says McNaughton.

With recent immigration to New Zealand, increasing numbers of children are more advanced in a language other than English and it is important “not to ignore or denigrate the first language”.

“They might know some things about language that can be used to make connections with English.”

New Zealand’s system certainly demands a lot of young children. If it is to work, teachers need the best of training and flexible arrangements to accommodate the variety of children entering schools. When it fails, there is a risk of severe estrangement from society. As Liberty points out, the world’s prisons are full of inmates who did poorly at school.

But there is good reason for optimism too, often held in spades by children themselves as they set off for another day at school.

“They do cope, they do learn. That’s what’s so wonderful,” says Liberty.