Photo: Claudia Baxter

Schools split on NAPLAN boycott

THE Department of Education has claimed a huge 85 per cent of principals at NSW public schools will defy the teachers unions’ ban on holding NAPLAN tests next week.

However, NSW Teachers’ Federation president Bob Lipscombe said the figure was ‘absolute nonsense and wishful thinking’.

While many primary school principals on the Northern Rivers said yesterday they would proceed with the tests, teachers at several secondary schools voted unanimously to confirm support for the ban.

Alstonville Public School principal Lorraine Bryant is one who is pressing ahead on May 11-13.

“We are holding the tests because there has been an Industrial Commission ruling that they be done,” Ms Bryant said.

“I also believe that parents have the right to know how their children are performing.”

The federation has accused the Government of being so desperate to push the tests through that it was prepared to recruit backpackers to supervise.

Mr Lipscombe said several agencies had been approached to employ staff, and he knew of two that had been asked to find about 2500 casual workers between them.

But the Northern Rivers principals who are going ahead with the tests said they would be able to cope with their own staff.

The schools conducting the tests said they were putting the needs of students and their parents first.

Ms Bryant said: “I am against league tables, but I don’t believe that not doing the NAPLAN tests will put a stop to them.

“I think we are better off telling parents why league tables are not worth the paper they are written on.

“If we don’t do the tests the children will suffer in the long term. The growth of students currently in years 3 and 5 will be missing a vital measurement.”

Kyogle Public School is also going ahead. The decision was ‘an individual teacher’s choice whether to supervise the tests or not’, said principal Garry Carter.

“They made the choice because teachers use the information throughout the year for their planning,” he said.

Lismore Public School principal Vlad Knaus said that at this stage the tests would be going ahead, ‘but who knows what might happen in the next week?’

The situation at high schools across the region was more difficult to assess.

Many had not made a final decision, according to a DET spokesman, but he expected the overwhelming majority to attempt to hold the tests.

Byron High’s Peter King and Ballina High’s Phil Steer would not comment. Other secondary school principals did not return calls.

Teachers’ Federation members at Kadina High yesterday reaffirmed their support of the moratorium, said representative Mark Ippolito

Lismore High teachers also voted in support, said federation rep Frank Swientek.

Asked about the Government’s 85pc claim, Mr Swientek said: “We will see on the day what level of participation there is.”

If it was low, it would throw the validity of the tests into doubt, he said.

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