Primary Principals’ Principles

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]


 Primary Principals’ Principles

As a committed primary principal, there has been a personal bonus from this crusade to have NAPLAN banned. I have met, through the social/educational electronic media, some remarkable educators whose dedication to productive schooling is exceptional. They are the giants of this era of schooling. All of them want Literacy and Numeracy levels to be taken to the limits of each individual’s capacity and love the learning experiences. Some are Aussie primary school principals. [Certainly there are others I have known whose attitude to schooling has been extremely disappointing; some through apathy, some through thoughtless compliance to an over-bearing authority, some who just don’t understand what is going on.] The knowledge that there are such wonderful, wonderful educators prepared to be counted in this serious debate, [ that should never have been necessary in the first place]…well…what a privilege to have been in contact with them from time to time, to know that they are there for kids, to read their informative material, to share, to learn from them… It’s exciting and continues to be.

We are all of the one mind : All forms of national blanket testing programs MUST go.

The various forms of GERM tests in U.S.A., Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia have no place in such democratic societies. Each of them has a damaging impact on children’s love for Literacy and Numeracy pursuits. Like all germs, they need to be eradicated before any more damage is done.

My motivation has been a deeply entrenched desire to see all children start each day anxious to get to their school because of the learning atmosphere that exists there….the learning resources, the caring teachers, the friends-in-learning, the daily learning challenges and routines, the achievable learning goals, the play-way of learning, the fascinating curriculum, the varied curriculum, the fun, the joy, joy, joy of learning…all hang out there….free from fear of any kind. And….each child will know very well, no matter what their age, why they are going to school. That has been my dream since the 1960s. It’s slow work.

To have shared material and thoughts in this venture with the likes of Allan Alach, Terry Ball, Marion Brady, Peter Beatts, Brian Cambourne, Trevor Cobbalt, Tony Gurr, Bruce Hammonds, Doug Hammonds, Megan Hastie,  Derek Hedgcock, David Hornsby, Bruce Jones, Alfie Kohn, Mary E Mackay, Susan Ohanain, Diane Ravitch, Peggy Robinson, Kelvin Smythe, Valerie Strauss, Paulk Thomson, Lorraine Wilson….the list seems endless. There is no real order in such an honour role, so alphabetical is the fairest way to list them. They are just the first that spring to mind. I’m sorry for leaving others out. I hope they’ll understand.

Only hearts of granite can ignore the advices of such wonderful people. They care for kids. They care about kids.  Sincerity is their speciality. And… There have been so many others who have contributed to the ‘NO to NAPLAN’ cause who share the same page. Such a privilege to share the mission with them. There’s Dr. Ted Robinson, Joe Bower….

Because of this kind of sharing and believing, I find it hard to accept that any Australian Primary Principal supports or approves of NAPLAN or of any kind of national blanket testing. I have met too many worthy ones over the last fifty years, whose love for kids is so enormous, so many who have told me that ‘NAPLAN stinks’, so many who administer the tests because they are unwilling to ‘rock the boat’… YES…We all know that true-blue professional principals hate the thing. It is an evil monster.

The professional code of teaching and administrative ethics does not seem to have much sticking power in educational circles while this scato-meme [Fear makes children learn ] prevails. Many of us were nasty beasts ourselves during that heavy public examination period when we treated kids shamefully just to get them through the exams. Deeply shamed from the experience almost all of us …every single one that I know…have done a ‘Ravitch 180’. It seems inconceivable that we once frightened the living daylights out of our lovely kids so that they could get a ‘score’  and we ruined  their love for learning in the process.  The candidates ‘got a job’ or moved on. We didn’t really care. Our reputation was at stake when it was ‘exam time’.

We oldies, still driven by a passion for child learning, can now appease our conscience by helping the present generation of teachers and principals to think seriously about what they are doing.

Let’s improve Literacy and Numeracy instead of destroying Learnacy.



                                                                     Standardised blanket testing – a moral issue for principals.


In this article, Kelvin Smythe refers to the use of ‘ropey’ evidence and the ritualised saucer-licking that damages the spirit of primary school education. He refers us to an article that is a MUST READ. It is a comment by researcher Martin Thrupp about RAINS [ Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards ] that concerned itself with the enactment of policy regarding the impact of National Standards [= NAPLAN blanket-style testing] in NZ on school responses, and the effect of such assessment on narrowing of the curriculum, of teachers prioritising the teaching of some students over others and of the damaging effects on students conceptions of themselves as learners. Thrupp’s article is called : The Impending Release of Primary School Achievement Data: Disingenuous, Destructive and Deluded.

If you have any interest at all in NAPLAN or National Standards, you must read :


Peter Garrett, please try harder to GONSKIGuide Our Nation’s School Kids Intelligently.”




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Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443

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