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The List: What National has done to New Zealand education

It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years.  I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief.  To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.

I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.

So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.

This is the list.  It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train.  Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years.  It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.

Take a breath, and read on:

A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:

You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)

The full Local Bodies article is here.  It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)

Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.

Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act.  How?

  1. Speak up. Talk about the issues with others – encourage them to think about what’s going on and what it means in the long run;  and most importantly,
  2. Vote.  VOTE.  Definitely vote. And encourage everyone you know to vote, as well.

Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.

~ Dianne

one person stands up and speaks out

Ravitch - public schools under attack

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


50 thoughts on “The List: What National has done to New Zealand education

  1. Another change the government have made not on this list is the disbandment of the Supplementary Learning Support tier of special education. This service provided support for students with learning needs who did not qualify for ORS funding, but whose needs were of significance enough to warrant ongoing support throughout their school life. Now, these students are under the responsibility of the RTLB service, but without the additional funding they once attracted. While you could argue their needs with be met through. The RTLB service, the fact is, it is another group of students RTLB have to fund and support, along with their ‘normal’ caseload. The spread of support gets ever thinner. And these are some of our most neediest children. 5/5 students with NCEA Level 1 Hekia??? Then support those kids of whom some will never get that without the help of targeted funding and specialised teaching support.


    Posted by Cheeky Kids | March 22, 2014, 10:14 pm
  2. Reblogged this on Cheeky Kids and commented:
    This is not comprehensive, but is shocking nevertheless. The reforms of New Zealand education to date, under a National led government….


    Posted by Cheeky Kids | March 22, 2014, 10:18 pm
  3. The National Gov also introduced NCEA the last time they were in government.


    Posted by mtfcrulz | March 23, 2014, 12:03 pm
  4. Adult education/night classes were also slashed.


    Posted by Jeremy Mycelium | March 23, 2014, 11:04 pm
  5. It is easy to blame the government for problems in the education system, but it’s ignorant to think they are the driving force. The world has changed in the time period of the current National Government and education is not the only sector to see harsh budget cuts. The problem with this list is that it is only focusing on one side of the argument. It is naive to believe that everything that has happened to the education system in NZ over the past 6 years has been negative. Millions of dollars have gone into projects to help disadvantaged kids achieve higher learning standards, and these new projects have been designed to be far more economical and sustainable.
    The points on this list about employing overseas professionals is embarrassing and if there were any meaningful remarks in this article this would overshadow there value. We no longer live in a world where borders of countries make people alien. Globalization has opened cultures up so someone from the UK can perform his job in NZ and share the knowledge he has gained from his different experience, and learn something of our own country.
    New Zealand schools don’t need to be saved. They are not in a weak or venerable position where there need to be kept safe. They need to evolve. Learning cannot be safe or it will become stagnant and monotonous. Sure, the government has not done everything possible to aid in the development of this system, but positive changes have been made to learning in the past half decade that deserve more recognition than some condescending, naive and negative list.


    Posted by TheNewWorld | March 24, 2014, 1:50 pm
    • Thank you for your comments, TheNewWorld.

      If I may respond: Regarding overseas experts – the issue is not that they are foreign, it is that they are brought in to plant down an overseas education model atop NZ’s system, with little to no understanding of Kiwi culture or system. There is no learning about NZ to be done in that situation – they are there to impose, not to consult. They may be experts and may even be very lovely people (I am acquainted with Lesley Longstone and she is a very nice person), but it does not mean they are the right person for the job.

      Evolution is exactly what teachers want. And we know our schools don’t need saving – they need supporting to improve, which is entirely different, but that is not the narrative Hekia Parata and co use.

      What we actually have, instead, is bullying and outrageous treatment of professionals. We have them lumbering our system with failed ideas from overseas. And so it is entirely correct to blame the government for the reforms they have brought in AGAINST the wishes of the education sector and many parents. That some good has been done (and do feel free to list the good things – we like those, too) does not cancel out the enormous damage already done and the even larger horrors to come.


      Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | March 24, 2014, 2:04 pm
  6. And then there is the disbandment of the Teachers’ Council in process now. It will be replaced with EDUCANZ – with all directors appointed by the Minister of Education, not allowing teachers to be represented by teachers. Disgusting.


    Posted by Melulater | March 24, 2014, 9:22 pm
  7. Most of those things are just the usual dig at national on the lead up to elections and not true as a reflection of the actual facts e.g leaky building comment, that was actually passed unanimously by both labour and national to fix a housing shortage. You’ll find most things on the list are a view from one point instead of the entire body of facts.


    Posted by Jonathan | March 25, 2014, 2:24 pm
  8. Referring to this comment on the list:
    ‘the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)’

    I take it you are referring to TeachFirst NZ. What is wrong with this program exactly?
    Students in this program are carefully selected and have already completed at least a degree with a high GPA (only 20 students a year). I’m talking about real passionate people with life experience and core values like integrity and resilience so that they can be moulded into incredibly influential leaders. They care about the educational inequality in NZ and want to make a difference in our low decile schools that need this passion and influence so desperately. Quite frankly, we need all the good leaders we can get in our education system.
    Yes, they might have only 6 weeks of intensive training, but they receive constant support for the two years of their graduate program and they run on a very reduced teaching timetable with smaller class sizes.
    The similar programs that are running in other countries around the world have already had positive results in their education systems, so don’t knock it down before you have any scientific research- that’s just bad form. TeachFirst might just be an essential component in New Zealands education system, and change can only happen by trying different methods.

    So because you have failed to produce a valid point here, and knocked down something that has incredible potential in the long run, how can I believe anything else that you have said? I’m not saying I’m for National, in fact I’m pretty indifferent about the whole politics thing, but I’m with TheNewWorld here.

    This list is negative and closed minded; why don’t you spend your time constructively writing about how we can combat these issues rather than just pointing them out to make National look bad? It’s a low blow.


    Posted by Skeptic | March 25, 2014, 4:55 pm
    • Well said.. Im getting sick of the “low blows” every election year that pull people in with half facts making national look bad .. It’s just dirty politics really. If the writer of this article was infact complete in explaining his:her viewpoint then fine, however it’s just a load of dirty water politics as far as I can see. So many untruths in this article it’s a joke. As you say let’s just sort it!


      Posted by Jonathan | March 25, 2014, 10:25 pm
      • Which are the untruths? Which is the dirty water?


        Posted by Cogito ergo sum | March 28, 2014, 9:30 am
      • I am a Teacher and also a solo parent I WILL NOT be voting National…. They are not doing good things for our future children and putting more pressure on teachers making it much more harder to teach when your resources are being taken away… Meaning more funding cuts so children miss out, if they ain’t a smart child then any child under average have no chance. Parents have to work their asses off to support their families as national makes it harder and harder it’s not just in education!!

        I myself are stretched to my limits as a teacher and are too worn out to even try and put an active parent to support my own 3 children and one who has learning issues. You say clearly you national supporters than parents need to be involved so your child does well… I AM!!!! Not even child is going to be good at writing spelling etc , What is the most important issue here is that National does not see early childhood important support for our future adults to be great contributing people. It’s about creating opportunities for child to be able to access 100% qualified teachers who know their shit not half pie.. This makes me wild hence my language WAKE UP National is shit….. I’m voting labour for the education system so ALL children have and get the chance in life not only the rich kids. You know some little toad of a child could get a one great chance and teacher who can provide the time to care and chance their whole dam life!!!! You have no idea how hard it is to be a great teacher when you have to use your own money to buy resources to teach. Teachers should be paid way more, say any teacher and I know they will say they use their own money to get things!!!!

        I could go on… But it won’t wake you up I’ll just try to make a change by voting labour and I know other teachers will also, yes I agree some teachers are just to old and old fashioned get them out just like National they’re old fashioned get them Out!!!! I’m for that average working family trying to get ahead and create a good life for their children…


        Posted by A real average working teacher/parent | April 6, 2014, 7:29 pm
      • Actually: The tactics described by you are most commonly used effectively by the national party when taken to task: Instead of responding to THE ISSUES, the response tries to DISCREDIT THE OPPONENT by claiming this or that (incorrect facts, hidden agenda, political, etc, etc) or getting personal – as you have demonstrated here quite competently and …transparently, Ms Parata.


        Posted by Thomas Kaminski | June 2, 2014, 8:19 pm
      • Just wondering if you are still using he words “dirty politics” so much…? #DirtyPolitics #HagerBook #Key


        Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | August 23, 2014, 4:29 pm
    • I take it you haven’t bothered to follow SOSNZ, as we do indeed speak often about what the positive changes we might make as a profession.

      I also have a post about the TeachFirstNZ programme that sums up by saying “we’ll suck it and see”. But Teach First has not had a good run overseas, overall, and I am still of the mind that the Finnish model, where teachers are trained to a very, very high standard, is of far greater value to teaching in the end.

      As to the election changing things – no, it hasn’t changed a thing about how I approach looking into education reforms at all. I agree, the other parties have done their bit to bring in changes that have not been for the best, too. But two wrongs do not make a right.


      Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | March 25, 2014, 10:31 pm
      • As one of the Teach First NZ cohort, I don’t know whether to be more upset that your objection to me only made the end of your list, or that it didn’t even warrant a bullet point!

        In any event, it needs to be clarified that TFNZ (and the overseas initiatives it is modelled on) came out of the good intentions and pure heart of a human being, not a political party, so I don’t feel that any positive or negative results can be attributed (for good or bad) to National. Obviously TFNZ couldn’t go ahead without political approval, but let’s not give the Government the benefit of anything more than open-mindedness.

        Granted, as I near the end of Term 1 I can’t present “results” to show whether I am an effective teacher or not (though my sense is strongly that I am), but I can say that my initial intensive training, following a 14-year professional career and two university degrees, stood me in great stead to tackle the challenges of teaching, and I am wholeheartedly supported by my school as I put my learnings into practice. Having received the same pedagoical training as other trainee teachers (only more intensively) and being able to cut my teeth in front of 90 students since late January, my training is far more fulfilling and effective than a year at Teachers’ College would have been. We should probably all wait to see the proof in the pudding before judging whether TFNZ and its honourable intentions to address educational inequity in this country have failed.

        (Incidentally, I am neither “short-term” nor “untrained” – I’ve made this concerted career move to get into secondary school teaching for as long as I feel passionate about it, and I’m “in training” for the next two years. As for “low cost” – that is just an affliction I have chosen as part of my mid-life career change!)


        Posted by honeyhoxley | April 3, 2014, 12:59 pm
        • As with all of these initiatives, they start well and are soon co-opted by the GERM bods. I do not doubt the intentions of individuals on the course – I have no reason to think they are more or less committed than any other trainees. But I do doubt the long-term effects of the programme on the education system. As with all these things, I will be very happy if time proves me wrong. But it would be remiss not to look at how it has been misused in other countries and not eye the whole thing warily.


          Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | April 4, 2014, 4:35 pm
        • I think allowing those with excellent and appropriate work and life experience or non-teaching qualifications a fast-track into teaching is an excellent idea. What could be better than, for example, an experienced craftsman teaching technical subjects?

          Opposing it seems to be nothing more than teachers attempting to impose a closed shop to protect their financial interests.


          Posted by Christopher Watson | August 23, 2014, 12:02 pm
          • No-one is opposing experts teaching in our schools. There is already provision for just that – it’s called the Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) and requires the proposed teacher to show that they have the level of expertise needed. That is excellent, and I know some great LATs. Have unqualified teachers with no experience is not the same thing, and that is he concern.
            ~ Dianne


            Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | August 23, 2014, 4:18 pm
  9. Sadly this page is more political – not factual in every case. Take the story “5 years under national International ranking plummets”. Labour says this is National Standards – what rubbish. These are students with 10 years of schooling – who was in government most of that time? National Standards took time to implement, and was derailed by educators.

    I’m a parent of 3 children, and actually I like to know how they can do the basics, it has identified areas of development for one of my children and I can know that they are on track.

    I work in the commercial world, and I don’t necessarily agree with performance pay for teachers, but I have seen terrible teachers still working without consequence.

    My personal observation:
    My son (Dux at primary school, 3 extension programmes at Intermediate) entered high school with a scholarship, and at the end of term one in YR9, five of his six teachers commented how superb it was to have such a focussed learner in their classroom. They had all provided extension opportunities too.

    The maths teacher barely even realised he was in the classroom and 10 WEEKS INTO THE TERM had to be told that he was bored – she hadn’t noticed!! This despite all the testing showing he was advanced at the YR10 level having been available for 6 weeks.

    This is why performance pay comes up – we should reward the 5 great teachers, they are awesome – but we can’t differentiate. Teacher number 6 doesn’t deserve the same reward.


    Posted by AKLCrusader | March 27, 2014, 6:01 pm
    • National is directly responsible for the plummet in PISA results, however National Standards is not the reason, the reason is that this government allows and indeed supports the publishing of NCEA results league tables, the direct result if which is that schools want to look good in these tables so they push students to easy pass courses rather than sciences and maths. National standard will do exactly the same thing and sink as even further. We already have a case of a school faking its results. Be careful what you ask for it may not be in your children’s best interests no matter how logical you think your reasoning is.


      Posted by Tracy | March 27, 2014, 7:33 pm
      • Separate the individual result from the league tables. The individual result was valuable as a parent, but league tables may need more consideration- I’m not fundamentally opposed to them but don’t understand better options either.

        False results should have appropriate consequences, I am sure that the education sector would support a natural consequence for fraud.

        NCEA attracted the same furore when it started too, and yes it developed vocational focused courses that attract high pass rates, but it seems that the sector worked out how to separate and recognise high academic achievers from vocational level courses.

        If the energy that is invested against change went into finding ways to make the output effective and useful then I am sure more headway would have been made.

        I come back to my original premise, reward the good ones more…….work together for the measure. Both sides are at fault for their entrenched positions.

        The union is as much of a bully as parata (who I don’t like either), they are happy to use my children as cannon fodder to their own ends.


        Posted by AKLCrusader | March 28, 2014, 4:35 pm
        • We actually already know what is effective and what isn’t, and most of it is not what parents think will work, and Hekia Parata certainly hasn’t shown any inclination towards using the research, much of which was formulated here. Everyone else uses our research except us. Much of what you have stated that you think will work is actually counterproductive, performance pay doesn’t work, national standards don’t work.


          Posted by Tracy | April 2, 2014, 3:51 am
          • So you are saying that there should not be a benefit for a teacher who excels and no consequence for the teacher I described who is oblivious to her students?
            I support and expect the ability to measure my child’s basic ability progress and support the other experiential learning, in fact encourage it, but you still mix the issues between national standards (measure student knowledge level, identify and fix gaps)and performance of teachers.

            What frustrates me is the teacher and principals position that everyone is equal, they are not, and nor are my children.
            We provide different experiences for student learning styles, why is it so impossible to manage teachers the same way. I have not proposed a solution, as I am not the expert, but I totally disagree that we have tried everything and none of it works.

            Our children deserve the best teachers.


            Posted by AKLCrusader | April 2, 2014, 9:49 am
            • No-one thinks all teachers are equal and no-one is arguing that. Poor teachers or ones that have weaknesses that need further professional development should be identified and given additional training and support to come up to speed. If they truly cannot do the job, they should be out. However, value added, performance pay and National Standards do not actually help with any of that. It does need looking at, but this is not the way to do it. What is frustrating is that government is imposing these measures for reasons that have nothing at all to do with good teaching and learning and have everything to do with control and privatisation. Teachers and academics are not asked how they would solve the problems, and that is telling. ~ Dianne


              Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | April 2, 2014, 9:54 am
    • The problem with national standards is that where students are at in relation to the standards differs from school to school. We have students arrive at our school listed as at when we view them as below. National has offered no PD to address this. Standards also fail to measure value added by a teacher. I have taken readers from well below to almost being at, yet according to national that is a failure. Until a government can show a fair system for performance pay, I will never support this.


      Posted by Ben | March 29, 2014, 10:26 am
      • I totally hear what you’re saying, Ben, but even value added is not clear as a child can have a boost in learning for reasons other than their class teacher. For example, if you lay the great groundwork for a child and then they surge forward early next year, that is deemed to be the progress the new teacher has added. So that’s not clear cut either. ‘ve also talked to overseas teachers who have had students in their class who have had, for example, family deaths (murders and suicide included) and have for obvious reasons not done well that year in school, and none of that was considered – the results were not good enough therefore the teachers were deemed to be poor. It’s all rather ridiculous, eh?

        I want good teachers rewarded and poor ones helped to improve, too, but I can’t see that National Standards or value added or performance pay do that. They just create new and different problems.


        Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | April 2, 2014, 8:16 am
  10. The changes for the worse to the school truancy services should also make the list. Schools very unhappy with the service they now receive and truancy officers restricted in what they can do to assist families and children with school attendance.


    Posted by Brigid | March 27, 2014, 8:29 pm
  11. be prepared to pay the cost, Hekia Parata has shown her capabilities as a bully in the past, Ms Parata sees her self as judge and Jury


    Posted by Cogito ergo sum | March 28, 2014, 9:33 am
  12. Hey, i could read past your comment about NZQA… that was introduced by a labour led government. I 100% agree, it’s crap, and because of it, i’d never vote labour..


    Posted by fromhamilton | March 29, 2014, 6:37 am
  13. It is easy to pass the blame onto a government with our kids education. No matter who runs this, you have to be active and interact with teachers for your kids development. I can see the only ones having problems with schools is those whom do not actively participate. We should be thankful for all the wonderful teachers we do have and get our child moved if we do not like the teacher or there is a clash. I have kids in schools, not everything is perfect but I have no idea what this buearocratic nonsense is about.


    Posted by Lisa Lomas | March 29, 2014, 4:48 pm
    • I actively participate 3 times a week in my daughters year 2 class as teachers help. My daughter struggles with reading and writing and every day its a challenge for her even though we work with her each night with HW and I help and encourage her while I am in the class room. If there were different styles of learning offered in main stream schools with the curriculum expanded beyond just reading, writing and maths, more children would meet the so called “standards”. Some children excel in art, drama, sport etc, but there are no national standards for theses valuable and important skills. I think your comment is a little naive to say the only people to have problems are those who do not actively participate. Calling a massive group of concerned parents and teachers views as “nonsense” is very narrow minded.


      Posted by Kimberley | May 9, 2014, 11:27 pm
  14. Reblogged this on The Ardent Pedagogue and commented:
    After a curriculum meeting at my school today, where the tension could be plucked in the air like a string, I thought this was a nice post to share with everyone. Just as a reminder, in case you were confused,as to where our current government’s priorities lie.
    P.S. It’s an election year.


    Posted by Ms. K | April 2, 2014, 5:54 pm
  15. Don’t forget the underfunding of school support staff in NZ – treated as just part of the measly operations grant, and paid often not much more than the minimum wage even though doing vital work in schools. Myself, I work in a high school library and am directly involved in preparing resources for teachers, but limited hours prevent me from doing anymore.
    This neglect has continued under National, but Labour didn’t do that much to help us in its 9 years in power. (though they promise to make positive changes like centralising funding should they become the next government)


    Posted by BRT | June 4, 2014, 9:55 am
  16. The words came out of my mouth as the DP went on that we have too many children below national standard after one year at school.
    ‘Maybe we just need to focus on reading, writing and maths.’
    OMG. I said it.

    Me the teacher that already has dropped a weekly art lesson to once every three weeks. Me who loves science and investigation.

    I don’t have any more children reading below green on their 6th birthday in my 9 years of teaching, than I normally would. But I do have children reading below National Standard and thats new.
    We’ve had reports at school and I like the kids I teach, I like their parents and it devastates me that I have to tick well below national standards and needing support at home and school. THEY ARE 6 and in the European countries running rings around us not even at school yet. When I was at school I was still reading and playing with blocks, I didm;t even know a colour wheel existed.

    So as from next week I am reinstating art at least weekly, or quitting teaching.
    P.S. I have have post grad papers in literacy development
    P.S. Not voting national either


    Posted by carls | June 12, 2014, 9:58 pm
    • It’s insidious, isn’t it? Good on you for reflecting on what it all means, and I would say yes reinstate the art but please don’t quit – we can’t afford to leave people like you. ~ Dianne


      Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | June 12, 2014, 10:15 pm
    • Well said carls! I am a teacher and a parent. I was astounded when my 6 year old came home concerned that he was below standard in reading!! He is a bright boy. He now thinks he’s “dumb” and has given up already on doing well at school. Sad…..very sad. Pressure on teachers to advance these wee buttons means pressure on our youngest children …..


      Posted by Betsy | July 22, 2014, 9:22 pm


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