This category contains 11 posts

Charter Schools – Throwing good money after bad – NZ Principals Federation

Iain Taylor - Manurewa Intermediate20 May 2016
Today’s announcement that the government will fund another seven charter schools and an independent body to support them comes as a huge disappointment to Principals across the nation.

‘Only a few months ago, the Minister was closing the Whangaruru failed charter school which spent $1.6million on a farm and the government has no mechanism to retrieve that money, even though the school is now closed,’ said Iain Taylor, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation today.

‘We thought that lessons had been learned from that disaster,’ said Taylor, ‘but obviously not.’

‘No one is calling for more of these schools,’ says Taylor. ‘Parents already have more than enough schools to choose from. Charter schools are a political arrangement with the government and the ACT party.’ he said.

‘Charter schools are a business, not a regular school, and businesses market themselves to get more customers by offering enticements. That’s what charter schools do”

‘Kids are not flocking to charter schools. Parents have to be enticed to send their kids there. We see the incentives like free school uniforms, free stationery and no programme charges,’ said Taylor. ‘Charter schools are a business, not a regular school, and businesses market themselves to get more customers by offering enticements. That’s what charter schools do,’ he said.

‘The Minister has often said that the vast majority of public schools of all decile levels in this country are great schools. We want all public schools in New Zealand to be great schools and we don’t need charter schools soaking up precious funds that would make that happen,’ said Taylor.

NZPF President Iain Taylor, media spokesperson
Mob: 021 190 3233

Can united teachers’ unions work together to turn the tide?

This article speaks to the necessity for teachers unions to work together and applies as much to New Zealand as it does to the UK:

“An analysis of the different agendas reveals common commitments to:

  • a broad and balanced curriculum
  • a fully qualified teaching profession and national pay framework
  • opposition to marketisation and education for profit
  • recognition that schools can’t do their work unless governments do theirs – by ending child poverty.

Of course these broad commitments will hide differences of detail over specific issues. “

Read more via Can united teachers’ unions turn the tide?.

Boards and Principals United in Statement to Peter Hughes

speak up not silenceFollowing the announcement of the Government’s Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy in January, Upper Hutt School Principals and Boards of Trustees were concerned about the direction of spending for the $359,000,000. We are excited about the prospect of a large sum of money being injected into education, but we question the use of this going mainly into salaries for just a few teachers and principals. We believe the greatest need for the $359,000,000 is for it to be paid directly to schools to support children’s learning.

In order to be proactive and informed, principals and boards have since met with representatives from NZ School Trustees Association, NZ Educational Institute and the Ministry of Education. We have also kept up to date with all information coming from the NZ Principals’ Federation and the latest (limited) information from the Ministry of Education about the policy detail.

At this point in time, despite our insistence and perseverance to ensure we are fully informed about the policy, we remain concerned that:

• the Ministry of Education has not actively sought the direct views of BOTs, principals and teachers;

• a substantial amount of funding is going to individual roles and salaries, when our community of Upper Hutt schools has identified other priorities;

• there appears to be a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of this policy on improving outcomes for children in NZ, and in particular, the children of Upper Hutt;

• the policy appears to promote competition within the sector, as opposed to supporting the way in which we currently work together;

• the short timeframe for implementation does not allow for adequate consultation with BOTs, principals, teachers and parents;

• the model appears to be an inflexible ‘one size fits all’;

• experienced, effective classroom teachers may be out of their own classrooms two days a week to perform the role of expert teacher.

After meeting with Graham Stoop from the Ministry of Education, it became apparent the justification for this policy is to create communities of schools who work collaboratively for the benefit of students in their local area. It was acknowledged by Stoop that Upper Hutt schools already work in a collaborative model with a range of networks to support our children. In our view, we do not require executive positions to be established, nor do we want a salary to go to an individual principal. We were absolutely clear that we want and need the money to go towards funding projects to support students in our schools.

We acknowledge that there are some potential strengths with IES, but believe that without a longer timeframe for development, genuine engagement with the profession and communities, and a rethink on the allocation of funds, this policy will not meet the needs of Upper Hutt children.

In our view, this policy represents a significant change in education and has far reaching implications for the way in which our schools are self-managed. Upper Hutt schools are and will continue to be fully committed to working together to support our children, without the proposed financial incentives for individuals. We believe it is really important that the Upper Hutt community is fully informed about this policy and its implications for our community.

If you have any questions, we are committed to answering these as best we can and pointing you in the direction of further information. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us.

Birchville School Simon Kenny (Principal),

Fergusson Intermediate School Paul Patterson (Principal)

Fraser Crescent School John Channer (Principal)

Hutt International Boys’ School Mike Hutchins (Principal)

Maidstone Intermediate School Kerry Baines (Acting Principal)

Mangaroa School Glenys Rogers (Principal)

Maoribank School Paula Weston (Principal)

Oxford Crescent School Leanne White (Principal)

Pinehaven School Kaylene Macnee (Principal)

Plateau School Nigel Frater (Principal)

St Brendan’s School Nicole Banks (Acting Principal)

St Joseph’s School Peter Ahern (Principal)

Silverstream School Mary Ely (Principal)

Totara Park School Joel Webby (Principal)

Trentham School Suzanne Su’a (Principal)

Upper Hutt School Peter Durrant (Principal)

Ara Te Puhi (Board Chair)

Wendy Eyles (Board Chair)

Rose Tait (Board Chair)

Murray Wills (Board Chair)

Heather Clegg (Board Chair)

Dave Wellington (Board Chair)

Kerry Weston (Board Chair)

Leanne Dawson (Board Chair)

Hayden Kerr (Board Chair)

Darrell Mellow (Board Chair)

Jason Wanden (Board Chair)

Matt Reid (Board Chair)

Margaret Davidson (Board Chair)

Chris O’Neill (Board Chair)

Gavin Willbond (Board Chair)

Networkonnet: directions for primary education as a basis for budget and election year demands

no moneyThis 2014 budget is one of the worst in recent history – especially for election year.

The 2 per cent increase in the school operations grant after taking inflation into account, the needs of present-day education, and the increase in immigration, is actually a cut; the small allocations for the ‘Reading Together’ programme and digital literacy (a little over $4 million altogether) are miniscule in scope though well directed; and the small increase for support teachers pathetic.

As we know the $359 million for the cluster programme (for secondary and primary and over four years) will do nothing for children, indeed it will represent if it occurs, a plunge to an education cataclysm. The budget also points to a possibly less than 1 per cent rise in salaries for teachers – compare that to the wrongness of the salaries for expert teachers.

Yet the president of NZPF has virtually nothing to say.

Where is the programme of budgetary needs and system changes the NZPF should be demanding? Surely, a programme of budgetary needs and system changes carefully set out and widely distributed is a fundamental role of a teacher organisation – but it seems to be a fundamental role unfulfilled.

These are perilous times for school education; these are terrible times for schools wanting to address satisfactorily the real needs of children.

In my view, as suggested above we are on the precipice of an education cataclysm.”

via Networkonnet: directions for primary education as a basis for budget and election year demands.

Why teachers won’t be blinded by the pot of gold

The glittering $359k pay bonanza National dangled before teachers has failed to impress.  The NZEI is checking in with members about what they want from the roles, and the NZPF has called an urgent meeting with Hekia Parata to discuss mounting concerns.

This should really hit home with people.  Workers turning down money?  Saying no to the yummy carrots being dangled?  Rejecting the pot of gold? Why?

pot of goldWell, it’s simple really.  Teachers can’t see how these proposals will help students.  That’s it, pure and simple.  There is no point at all adding new positions if they aren’t going to serve the very people we are there for – the kids.

Ms Torrey of the Education Institute says the problem is that “…the ministry wants us to sort out a plan that they’ve come up with.”  In other words, it’s another pre-ordained reform and teachers were meant to be so blinded by the cash they wouldn’t ask questions.  

But they have asked question.  Teachers do that.  A lot.

Teachers asked whether the money could be used to make the more important improvements to the education system.  What about the lack of funding for special needs, they asked? What about the shoddy professional development situation?  Surely those should be considered too, before spending such a huge sum of money?

I am so grateful that teachers have stood back and asked these and other important questions.

Thankfully, teachers are quite clever folk, used to analysing ideas and situations and not taking things at face value.  (It’s kind of important to have those skills when you are in charge of helping students learn…) So, rather than rolling on a bed of dollars shouting whoopee, teachers are asking questions, demanding to make changes based on sound research and robust ideas.

However the money is spent, any new initiative must be thought through carefully, honestly and transparently by all concerned so that what is agreed upon is the best for the education system and for the students.

So, Ms Parata, thank you for the acknowledgement that education needs an injection of funds, and thank you for acknowledging that there are some amazing lead teachers out there in our schools.  I hope you listen to the concerns teachers have and understand that we want to be very sure that any proposed new roles clearly and directly benefit children’s learning.  That is what matters to teachers the most.

It’s often said that no-one goes into teaching for the money, and that’s something you really do need to take heed of.


Read also:

Support for caution re. Leadership proposals

Responses to Hekia’s implication that teachers want performance pay

no no noYesterday on Q+A, Hekia Parata deftly implied that the teacher unions and, by implication, the teachers, are totally on board with performance pay. Not just on board, but helping sort out how it will go ahead.

Some of us suspected this was smoke and mirrors, the ole Hekia misdirection that we are so familiar with. So I did what any sensible person should.  I asked the unions themselves.  And the opposition parties, too.  I asked them, “Are you in favour of performance pay for teachers?”

Here are the responses I have had so far, and the tell quite a different story to Hekia’s:

PPTA referred  a member to this document and also Tweeted me via PPTAWeb to say:

PPTA do not support performance pay. 

NZEI have not sent an official response, but individual reps responded to say:

NZEI does not support competition between schools or teachers. PUM’s are being held in the next couple of weeks. Expect a statement AFTER members have BEEN consulted. 

Metiria Turei of the Green Party messaged me to state:

We are opposed to performance pay. All teachers should be priority rewarded for their skills and experience.

Chris Hipkins (Labour) Tweeted me to confirm:

 Labour does not support basing teacher pay on student achievement. It’s no measure of ‘performance’

Chris Hipkins replied in more detail to my query on Facebook:

Labour is opposed to paying teachers based on student achievement, which is no true measure of ‘performance’. I object to the whole term ‘performance pay’ because it inevitably leads to pointless arguments about how to tell a good teacher from a poor one, when really we should be focused on how we support all teachers to be great teachers (quality professional development, great initial teacher training, better appraisal systems etc).

No word yet from NZPF. I will update you as soon as I hear from them.

Meanwhile, make sure your union rep, your MP, your principal, and your local newspaper all know that teachers do not want performance pay because it adversely affects their performance and will therefore be TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE STUDENTS.

~ Dianne


Hekia implies unions agree to performance pay

What the heckDuring Hekia Parata’s interview on Q+A today, Corrin Dann asks “Will National go to a full performance pay scheme in the future?”

Hekia answers (at 11.12 of video) “We already have very strong consensus from the teacher unions as well as the profession, they are on the working group, recommending the design features for this. We are very focussed on getting this implemented from 2015 and fully implemented by 2017″ 

Is she refusing to answer the question posted there, and actually continuing to talk about the new ‘super’ roles, or did she really just imply the unions are on board with performance pay? Because those are two very different things.

So, because she wasn’t clear, I need to check…

NZEI?  PPTA?  NZPF?  What are your positions on performance pay?

Because there is a loud voice from teachers that they do NOT want this.  And with good reason backed by much research.

I want to know exactly where the unions stand.

Is Hekia avoiding, evading, stretching facts, fibbing, or telling the truth?

We really do need to know.


Why are Kiwi Teachers not up in arms?

Education not for saleSeriously, why are there not more protests?  More letters to the editor?  More people shouting from the rooftops about ill-thought-out reforms?

Are teachers just too worn out teaching to get into the battle to save public education?

Is there just so much being thrown at the sector right now that people don’t know what to tackle first?

Is it that people care but haven’t got the oomph?

Or do they just not care?

Are the unions doing enough to talk to us?

Should the unions’ leadership be doing more to lead us?

Maybe many teachers don’t understand what is going on, regarding world-wide education reforms (deforms)?

I really don’t know.

But I do know we have to galvanise and stand up for ourselves before it’s too late.

So what should we do?

if you are not outraged you are not paying attention

New Education Roles – Working Group – Have Your Say

shoutMake sure the new teacher and principal roles announced by government work out the way you want them to…

Please take note of this information from Kaimanga, newsletter of the New Zealand Teachers Council, and contact your reps to have your say:

Have Your Say
The Government plans to have these roles in place from 2015 with full implementation in 2017.
A working group made up of education sector representatives, including unions, will be charged with fleshing out the details of this initiative.
The following sector representatives have been invited to be a part of the sector working group:

  • Lorraine Kerr, President, New Zealand School Trustees’ Association
  • Nancy Bell, Chief Executive, Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa and member, EDUCANZ Transition Board
  • Judith Nowotarski, National President, New Zealand Educational Institute
  • Angela Roberts, President, Post Primary Teachers’ Association
  • Philip Harding, President, New Zealand Principals’ Federation
  • Tom Parsons, President, Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand
  • John Garner, President, New Zealand Area Schools’ Association
  • Toni Waho, TiamanaTe  Rūnanga Nui ō ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori ō Aotearoa
  • Arihia Stirling, Ngā Kura a Iwi o Aotearoa and member, EDUCANZ Transition Board
  • Ross Tyson, President, New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling
  • Unasa Enosa Auva’a, President, Pasifika Principals Association

Teachers should contact and work with these representatives to influence the detail that emerges in the implementation of this initiative.

Marlene Campbell needs our urgent support – by Kelvin Smythe

justiceA gross injustice is unfolding, has been unfolding, at Salford School in Southland.

I believe it will end up as New Zealand education’s equivalent of the Dreyfus Case, there is also a sense of Javert obsession about it.

The basis for what I write comes from knowledge accrued, not immediately obtained.

The ministry ought to act very quickly, acknowledge the original basis was wrong, the processes wrong – and issue an apology and a reinstatement. It will cost them if they don’t.

There will be people reading this who will be thinking where there is smoke there must be a fire; I want to say now, as unbelievable as it may seem – there is no fire, in the sense we understand a fire in education terms.

This, of course, goes back to the Tolley era and the fight against national standards and the authoritarian nature of its introduction.  But even people who were strong opponents of national standards were sometimes taken aback at some of Marlene’s utterances. ‘What is she like?’ they asked.

Well she is the salt of the earth. She is not a raving lefty, she is a National Party voter (or was); she runs a highly modern school, highly computerised, all the buttons and bows in assessment, and so on; she is innovative if a little trendy; and in the district she has been behind a wonderful series of curriculum conferences.

Marlene is a proud New Zealand principal who wants to work in a framework of freedom incorporating reasonable oversight, then she wants the space to exercise her kind of leadership in the interests of children, the teachers, and the Salford community. She has and always had the backing of her board of trustees, though they did say to her from time to time, as I did, to tone it down.

Marlene is all of us. You might shudder a little at the thought, but she is. All principals with any sense of independence know they are subject to the review office suddenly appearing with attitude, an attitude arising from a secret letter. Often creepy allegations are made, yet the principal is not privy to the contents of the letter or who sent it. The education review office justifies this on the grounds of protecting people, but the authorities are there to do that, what this secrecy leads to is authorities being provided with secret police-type control. Schools should see the allegations and know who made them – that is a basic principle of justice. The secret letter Kafkan tactic is being pulled regularly against principals who show the faintest indications of independence. And there is little comeback.

This happened to Marlene and is one to be fought out in court, but it is one that should have already been fought by NZPF.

Then there are the commissioners and limited statutory managers (LSM). These roles are a licence to rort. They are also an exercise in near unbridled power. I suppose I should first make the commonplace that there are some fair-minded, honest commissioners out there. The way these commissioner roles are structured sends out weird signals. You see, the longer they stay in the roles the longer they will be paid. Many of them are in thereto solve difficulties that would have been sorted in a few days by the inspectorate, but they are extended for years. (You may remember I was a senior inspector of schools.) In fact, of course, most times commissioners are not there to solve real problems but to punish schools for being at all independent so they must invent problems. Then there is the signal that works against justice: LSMs are paid by the school; the children, as a result, are being punished for the actions of adults whether within schools or officials outside. In relation to justice, the costs to the school become a perverse incentive to forgo justice and go against the principal in the school.(By the way, I’m also hearing from schools about commissioner’s inflated travel and accommodation costs.)

In the Salford damages’ court case almost certain to ensue it will be necessary to go back to the shenanigans begun from Tolley’s office. As is widely known use was made of Whale Oil and the media to set up teachers and schools they decided to target.

The apparatus of the New Zealand education system is oppressive and against natural justice with the education review office central to that.

It began officially with an accusation from a letter held in the secret files of the review office. Yes – as is the way, Marlene was then accused of actions never made clear and from whom. It is so Kafkan.

Of course, the review office recommended an LSM. That LSM was Peter Macdonald, the individual around whom much rumour has swirled, particularly so when his judgement and fairness was called into question over his sacking of Prue Taylor of Christchurch Girls High. Prue Taylor you will remember was reinstated in her position.

Macdonald was appointed to Salford a year ago.

One of the first of Macdonald’s actions on being made LSM was to reinstate a teacher who had been dismissed, following due process, by the board of trustees. I suspect that reinstatement was done summarily and with little or no discussion.

When this whole matter goes to court seeking damages and Marlene’s reinstatement, I have little doubt that Macdonald’s incompetence in the primary school setting will be made clear, and that many of Macdonald’s directions will be seen as both asinine and illegal. I have little doubt that Marlene will be shown as having treaded very carefully throughout, no matter the provocation.

Let us jump forward to last week.

The board of trustees had had enough of the expenditure of money and Macdonald’s antics. They set about engineering Macdonald’s dismissal by announcing they were going to resign thus necessitating the appointment of a commissioner. The chairman added that his board retained full confidence in the principal who was highly successful and innovative. He said she had the enthusiastic support of nearly all the teachers and parents. Macdonald, he said, had done more harm than good.

cannot speak upMacdonald, it seems, panicked, a letter was sent to the lawyer late on Friday, 1 November, with Marlene being suspended without consultation. The manner of Macdonald’s actions in suspending her was clearly designed to cast Marlene in the worst possible light. To further set the scales against her he forbade her to say anything about it.

To suspend a principal late on Friday without notice and inform the teachers early on Monday morning, and then make announcements to the press is quite sensational. Is this an axe murderer on the rampage who must be stopped?

I now go to this morning’s Southland Times, Wednesday, 6 November.

Macdonald says he suspended the principal ‘because of concerns for the welfare of staff at the school.’

Now follow this closely.

He says: ‘an investigation into the working environment at Invercargill’s Salford School over the last few years was continuing.’

OK good – is the report damming of Marlene? He doesn’t say (it isn’t). This report is being done by a lawyer and the chairman. How could it be damming given the chairman’s glowing tributes to Marlene?

‘But after receiving an ‘interim summary’ of the investigation last week he had decided to take action.’

‘He declined to outline his specific concerns.’

Well, of course.

Natural justice demands that he showed those ‘concerns’ to Marlene. He didn’t. Macdonald is in deep shit here. He suspended her on Friday and announces it early on Monday morning. Such transcendental haste could only be occasioned by transcendental concerns, or by motivations unrelated to a concern for justice and fairness.

Now do you want to know what it was really about?

You are going to find this difficult to believe but the excuse for Marlene’s suspension, it seems, was a discussion by senior staff members on 30 October, with Marlene not present, and certainly not motivating the discussion, about professional behaviour in the interests of the school.

Marlene’s stance all along being that in the interests of the children she can work professionally with anybody on the staff – she has done that she said, and can continue to do that.

I’ll leave it now to the board chairman – something of a hero don’t you think?

Aaron Fox says: ‘… the school’s staff were doing a fantastic job in challenging circumstances [this is really a reference to Macdonald’s presence] and the children were enjoying their schooling.’

‘Throughout the last 12 months of a limited statutory manager they have continued to deliver quality teaching to our children, and that’s all of the staff. I see them working as a team.’

‘Mr Fox last week said the “unfortunate” statutory intervention had created more problems that it had intended to fix and had become a financial drain on the school.’

What a madness this all is.

‘The Ministry of Education indicated it had no role in the suspension of Ms Campbell.’


The ministry is as guilty as sin because of the way they set up these situations in the first place. Take my word for it, they had better act quickly to absolve themselves. Salford has all the appearance of an everyday education darkness being exposed to the light as a result of what seems a ministry appointment’s brain explosion.

Marlene must not be left hang out to dry in the way Keri was. (Oh, and by the way, where is STA in all of this?)

by Kelvin Smythe

Kelvin’s origonal article can be found here.

That new tool for school


Blunt instrument: the new tool

Fairfax-owned launched its expanded School Report this morning – more than a little sad to see Auckland’s Faculty of Education uncritically advertising the tool as helpful on its Facebook page.

Stuff say they’ve matched National Standards and NCEA data with “key demographic details to provide users with a quick, easy-to-understand snapshot of every secondary, intermediate and primary school in the country”.  No mention of how many children have English as their second language, so, nope, I didn’t see a picture of my school with all its challenges and charm. No attempt to go deeper and give readers reasons why.

Stuff’s reader forums are probably better value on the question of what makes a good school and the decile debate – and how much of a child’s success is down to parental involvement.

And there was some attempt to report on/acknowledge the widening gap between students from rich and poor backgrounds.

Hekia Parata, however, apparently said that “decile funding had not been an effective way of directing resources at where they could do the most good”.

“The decile system has a good intention in that it takes into account the different backgrounds students come from but has increasingly become the explanation for everything. It is not. Quality teaching and school leadership make the biggest  difference so that is where we think our resources are best directed.”

Quality Public Education Coalition national chairperson Bill Courtney, however, hits the nail squarely on the head: “You’ve got to change as much as you can about the quality of these children’s lives outside the school system. Why don’t those kids right down the bottom with top level needs have much smaller classes, more resources and a much stronger focus on helping them to accelerate? The parents are doing the best they can, but some of them are out at 7am cleaning your office. These kids don’t necessarily have people to help them study.

”What happens to your learning when every night you go home and sleep in a garage? Think about that compared to a decile 10 kid.

”The education our rich kids get is literally the best in the world. Why is that? Didn’t our teachers all go to the same university? Don’t we have the same curriculum? What’s the difference?”

~ Lena

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