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March 8, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Report rallies rising stars and (st)ragglers

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Step ball(s) change

The Inter-Party Working Group for School Choice (IPWG) has released a report recommending extra support for New Zealand’s top and bottom students between the ages of 6 and 16.

The IPWG’s Step Change report focuses on the lowest 20 and highest five per cent of pupils, offering tailored programs to cater to the needs of the individuals.

The IPWG, consisting of MPs from ACT, National and the Maori Party, aims to see implementation by the 2011 school year.

Presenting the report to parliament, National MP Hekia Parata stated the report’s focus is tailored because “the majority of our kids do well in our schools [but] one in five does not. One in three Maori and Pacific Island students are failing.”

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell spoke in support of the narrow focus.

“We would hope that this 20 per cent will receive at least the same, and arguably much greater resources, than the five per cent of students who are gifted and talented.”

The limited scope of the report has raised concerns that the proposal does not go far enough.

Greg Fleming, CEO of right-wing think-tank the Maxim Institute, says the report contains good ideas, but “ultimately it isn’t deep or broad enough”.

“Our education system needs holistic improvements that can benefit all students.”

Concerns have been raised over the potential logistical complications of the report. These stem from the report’s statement that “the demands of a personal learning plan might require that students find provision with educators out of zone.”

As well as seeing some pupils having to travel further on a daily basis, this could also see some required to travel between schools during the already short school day.

In the face of these obstacles, Flavell conceded that the Step Change report needs further development.

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