Anxiety in children leads to call for scrapping National Standards

15 August 2017

Teachers say that increased rates of anxiety in children linked to National Standards shows that National Standards should be scrapped.

A survey of primary and intermediate schools by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), released this morning, shows 63 per cent of teachers agreed, or strongly agreed, that anxiety about National Standards performance had negatively affected some students' learning.

That was up from 41 per cent on the 2013 survey.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart says that the situation is appalling. 

“National Standards are putting kids under enormous pressure leading to high levels of anxiety.

 “We are talking about, in some cases, very small children here. It is not acceptable. Principals and teachers are increasingly worried. Parents tell us that their children are telling them that they are failures. The system is broken. School should be a place of creativity that fosters a love of learning.”

Lynda Stuart says most teachers believed that National Standards have a negative effect as they narrow the curriculum and do not accurately reflect students’ ability.

She said it was ironic that research showing that a government policy, partly to blame for children becoming so anxious, was published in the same week that the Government announced funding to help children in schools suffering mental distress.

On Monday, a mental health pilot was announced as part of a $100 million social investment package which included a proposal to pilot frontline mental health practitioners in selected Communities of Learning.

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