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In recent years it has become a matter of orthodoxy that language programmes are necessary for children from poor homes and children from minority groups. One of the most influential of all programmes for pre-school children has been the one devised by Carl Bereiter and Siegfriend Engelmann (Bereiter and Engelmann, 1966; Bereiter, Engelmann, Osborn and Reidford, 1966). It was put into effect in what was called an "academic pre-school".
There are a number of children in New Zealand who, during their pre-school years regularly use a language other than English. They use it at home with their parents, and at play with their siblings and with many of their friends. When these children enter school at the age of five, they must use as a language for playing, for learning and for finding their way about their new school, a language in which they are both less familiar and less proficient than are their peers who are native speakers of English. Moreover English is for them a second best.
Advocates of progressive teaching methods claim that these foster the social and emotional development of children without in any way hindering their academic progress. Critics of the 'new' education on the other hand, equate 'progressive' with 'permissive', insist that levels of achievement are falling, and lay the blame for this firmly at the feet of curriculum innovators and progressive teachers.
In 1973 the Department of University Extension, Massey University, commenced a 2 year part-time correspondence course leading to the award of certificates in early childhood education or early child development.
Pupils with IQs in the range 70- 90 are usually in regular secondary school classes. They make up some 5% to 10% of the average first year high school intake. Such pupils are frequently reported to have difficulty with the traditional secondary school curricula, but their teachers seldom have any special training in the teaching of low ability pupils.