Demise of bulk funding a big win for teachers, learners and school communities
NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA congratulate the Minister of Education and Cabinet for making the right decision to reject bulk funding of schools.
NZEI President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts say taking bulk funding off the table is a big win for public education and for the thousands of teachers and school support staff who united in unprecedented numbers at more than 50 union meetings around the country in September.
PPTA President Angela Roberts says parents and educators had rejected bulk funding because they realised it was a cost cutting tool that would force schools to make trade-offs between hiring teachers and other costs. Thousands of parents signed postcards to the Minister calling for better funding, not bulk funding during a national roadshow organised by the two unions earlier this term.
Angela Roberts says the win is good news for learners, as bulk funding led to fewer teachers, larger class sizes and narrower subject choices for students.
She says the two unions welcomed the opportunity to now focus on how funding could be used to improve equity.
“Now that the distraction of bulk funding has been removed we can begin the real work of developing an equitable funding model that works for every child,” she said.
However, Louise Green warned that ditching the decile system and replacing it with more targeted funding would not help schools unless the chronic underfunding of education was also addressed.
“We call on the Government to take the next step — to increase school funding and restore funding to early childhood services, which has been frozen for six years,” she says.
Both unions’ National Executives are meeting this morning and the Presidents will make a joint statement at lunchtime.
What: Joint media stand up by NZEI and PPTA Presidents
Where: Thorndon Hotel, 24 Hawkestone St, Wellington
When: 12:30pm, Friday 18 November
My devices were alight today with messages from colleagues, friends, parents and social media folk sending smiley faces, high fives and happy dance gifs. She’s gone burger, they said. Hekia Parata is outta here. At last we’ll be rid of her and her mad cap ideas. It was like New Year’s Eve or winning the World Cup – there were celebrations across the land.
I appreciated the messages – it’s good to see so many people were as dismayed with Hekia’s performance as Education Minister as I have been and equally glad that we will soon see the back of her.
But, the general feeling of jubilation and relief at knowing we’ll soon be out from under the shadow of someone who has systematically undermined teachers, support staff and parents – not to mention students – in her bid to forge ahead with her neoliberal plan for the New Zealand education system, is tinged with trepidation; who (and what) comes next?
Because much as Hekia has a reputation for being snippy and unapproachable, she isn’t the main problem. The larger problem – and the one that will very likely not change much, if at all – is that of the government’s policies themselves. And, as stated National Party (and ACT) ideology, the neoliberal policies and direction remain much the same no matter who from the party is in charge.
If we truly want to celebrate – if we want to run around the house with pants on our heads cheering like we’ve won gold, quaff wine in celebration, and look hopefully towards a future where students are at the centre of all education policy decision making – if that’s what we want, we don’t just need a new Education Minister, need a new government.
Dianne Khan, Save Our Schools NZ
NZEI Te Riu Roa and the PPTA are launching an education bus tour in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch next week to raise awareness of the Government’s proposed radical reforms to school funding and the chronic underfunding of schools and early childhood services.
The bus tour aims to spread the Better Funding message to parents and whānau and the wider community, and educators will be talking to parents at drop-off and pick-up times about why children’s education needs more investment.
There will be Better Funding postcards to sign and send to Parliament, plus they’ll be asking the public to sign our Support Staff petition.
NZEI President, Louise Green explained:
“We are already seeing this with the Government’s freeze on the school operations grant, which funds support staff salaries and other general operating costs, and which has been frozen this year. Recent analysis of the 2016 operations grant shows that a majority of schools will be worse off when inflation is taken into account.
“Meanwhile, bulk funding in Early Childhood Education has also been frozen for five years in real terms, with services now under huge financial pressure to cut qualified teachers and increase group sizes.
“The quality of our children’s education shouldn’t be put at further risk from underfunding and flawed funding models. We need to restore full funding for quality teaching in early childhood, and at least an inflation increase to the operations grant to ensure schools have enough money to cover basic running costs, and to pay and keep on support staff who are funded from this allocation.
“No parent wants larger class sizes or fewer teachers for their kids. Our campaign is about valuing education and ensuring there is better funding to deliver the best education possible for New Zealand kids.”
This campaign is a great chance for families and wider communities to ask questions about what’s going on, so mosey on up and find out why educators are not at all happy with the Minister’s overall education policy and, in particular, the “Global Funding” plans.
Details of where the buses are going to be are here.
You can follow the campaign on Twitter at #betterfunding
Andrea Matheson writes:
Today, as a Mana [Porirua] resident, I had the ‘pleasure’ (amusement) of receiving the Minister’s MANA MATTERS newsletter. It has a feedback section, in which I particularly like the comment:
“I’m always interested in hearing your feedback and learning more about which issues matter to you. I’d appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to complete the survey below.”
Well Minister, I would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to read and respond to the TWO letters I have sent you where I outlined very clearly what issues matter to me! So I really don’t think you ARE interested in hearing about what issues matter to me or anyone else for that matter!
And I’m intrigued by your statement in the letter:
“We are expanding the ORS and the Intensive Wraparound Service to ensure that every child is catered for, no matter their circumstances”
How, pray tell, are you planning to achieve that, when you have made it quite clear there will be no increase to the special education budget!?
Dear Ms Parata,
I am very disappointed that it has now been a month or so since I sent you my letter regarding the proposed overhaul to Special Education funding and I have not yet had a reply from you. I had very high hopes that my words would make a difference – I guess I am a glass half-full kind of girl.
You state in your opinion piece on Stuff, dated September 25th that “I will work with any groups or individuals that are seriously committed to improving children’s learning and raising achievement.” Well, Ms Parata, we have been trying to get your attention for WEEKS now – parents as individuals and as part of wider groups, have written letters, organised education rallies across the country, commented on news articles, commented on your Facebook page (and been blocked for their efforts), spoken to the media, left messages on the Ministry’s phone line and signed petitions. These efforts have been plastered all over social media – you surely cannot have missed these actions by passionate, proud, exhausted, anxious parents who are praying that the dire situation of inadequate funding in special needs is rectified, and fast.
The lack of response has given me additional time to think of more important questions I need to ask you as well as provide you with some further thoughts that have arisen during this long wait.
In several articles I have read in recent weeks, you have stated that no child currently receiving funding will lose that funding. This implies that individuals such as myself only care about their own child/children and will be satisfied with this reassurance. BUT – I wrote to you expressing my concern about the education system as a whole – I am NOT an individual parent who likes to whinge, who only cares about the impact for her own child – I care deeply about what will happen to children who desperately need funding who do not have any to begin with. So whilst your statement on this point seems to imply that my son will not lose the ORS funding he currently has, he was NOT my only concern. I am not that selfish. Therefore your ‘reassurance’ is of no comfort to parents of children about to enter the school system without ORS funding or teacher aide support, or to parents like myself who care about the bigger picture in education.
Could you please outline any school visits you SPECIFICALLY made as a part of the ‘consultation’ process to help you create your cabinet paper on inclusion? For example, did you:
Visit and personally meet with a wide range of children who have additional learning and physical needs?
Spend time with them in their school environment to understand how crucial additional funding is to ensure their success?
Observe a wide range of learning and physical difficulties, eg: neuro-developmental disorders such as autism, GDD and ADHD, physical disabilities, genetic disorders and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia etc?
Ensure that you saw the VAST differences between what a teacher, teacher aide, child and parents can achieve with adequate funding, versus a teacher and child who have no additional funding or teacher aide support?
Or was consultation done without the real-life context of what it is like to be struggling to meet the demands in the classroom without support?
How do you propose to support children in primary school who do not meet the criteria for ORS funding? There is currently not enough funding to support children with learning difficulties or disorders, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and autism. If a school cannot meet their needs through their operational or SEG grants, what becomes of these children? Are they supposed to struggle through their school years with little or no support? What will the outcome be for them when they have to enter society as an adult? It is a frightening prospect. We are meant to be a forward thinking and innovative country but at the heart of it, we are not supporting the children who are struggling through every day and having their confidence eaten away bit by bit. I am sure I am not the only person in New Zealand who strongly feels schools need targeted funding to meet the needs of children with these disorders if they do not achieve ORS funding (and we all know the vast majority of children with these disorders do not). We all know these disorders are on the rise Minister – what does your government plan to do about this issue?
We have repeatedly asked you how you plan to improve services to ECE without increasing the overall budget for special education. No satisfactory answer has come from you as yet. Instead we have to listen to radio interviews and read articles where the majority of journalists have not dug deeper to properly dissect the information that is being fed to them. But we as parents have a vested interest in the changes to funding and we know how to read between the lines. We will not be satisfied by the usual vague statements such as “The proposed changes that we’re making in education are all about putting our kids at the centre of the education system, lifting the educational success of every young New Zealander” and “Everything I’m working towards is about putting children and their achievement at the centre of the education system.” Are these statements intended to keep us quiet? I’m afraid they won’t. I guess the giant governmental PR machine may have underestimated our fortitude and determination.
Whilst we can appreciate the sentiment behind your statements, which I’m sure is genuine, you have not given us the answers we are seeking. How will you achieve better funding to students through ‘streamlining’ and what will streamlining look like? Until we get those answers we will continue to be noisy (deafening in fact).
We as parents are striving 24/7 to raise children who can become happy, appreciated, well-understood and productive members of society. All we ask for is that you work with us to better understand their needs, and the successes they can achieve with better funding and more support. Please LISTEN to what we are trying to tell you.
We want to be listened to, we want to be heard. You say that you want to work with us – why are you not responding to our questions? Why are you deleting perfectly reasonable questions and comments from your Facebook page? As a passionate parent and advocate recently suggested, we see plenty of pictures of you planting trees and other lovely photo opportunities, but where are the photos of you working alongside children with additional, high or very high needs, trying to understand how teachers meet their needs with no funding? Where are the photos of you talking to parents whose children have been turned away from schools or stood down because there are no teacher aides to help the teacher support their learning and behavioural needs? Where are those photos Ms Parata?
I respectfully ask (again) that you respond to these thoughts and concerns with REAL answers. We WANT to be involved in the direction that these changes will go, nobody knows the needs of children with ‘special’ needs better than their parents. We want to give you the benefit of our guidance. I am not setting out to be a trouble maker. I have spent an hour and a half on this letter, an hour and a half I could have spent playing with my son. But I am forced into this situation because I need to fight to be heard. Please respect our combined knowledge and experience, there is so much that we could add to help you lead an education system that we can ALL be proud of.
With kind regards,
Mum to a super special, endearing, pride-inducing and heart-warming wee lad.
Letter reproduced with Andrea’s kind permission.
Hekia Parata made a somewhat surprising appearance today at Core Education’s uLearn Conference in Rotorua, prompting again comparisons of her ability to make herself available for certain types of education gatherings and not others:
Still, this is not news, and her appearance this morning was not a total surprise, despite not being on the programme.
At least one person left the room in silent protest.
Some asked questions…
And one, SOSNZ’s very own Melanie Dorrian, made a one-person, silent and very powerful protest.
This prompted a flurry of photos on social media
The protest invoked a lot of positive support from within and without the room.
Melanie, I have never been prouder to call you a colleague. You embody exactly what we want of our teachers and our students – deep critical thinking, a commitment to facts, a determination to hold people to account for their actions, and a social advocacy that puts others’ needs sometimes before one’s own.
To those who praised Melanie, took pics, shared your thoughts, sent her your support – thank you. I hope Melanie’s stance has illustrated clearly that one person can make a difference and your voice – every voice – matters.
Next time maybe you’ll bring your banner, too?
After all, you voted overwhelmingly to stand up to this nonsense.
You can follow Melanie’s own blog here.
The Education Amendment Bill proposes changes to the way Education is provided in New Zealand, and one of those changes is the establishment of COOLs (Communities of Online Learning).
Proponents say COOLs will open the door to more education opportunities, but have yet to explain how or why they believe it will lead to an improvement for students.
You can see me here, along with Megan Woods, Peter Dunne, Ron Mark, and Paul Foster Bell, discussing the issues on Back Benches recently:
I’m all for using technology to advance learning, but just doing a course on a computer does not make it quality learning – even the OECD agrees, saying that “education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science”.
Students having quality support readily available is incredibly important. I know this first hand, having worked for a while now with students learning via Te Kura Correspondence School, that a qualified teacher is still very much in need. Students need regular guidance, help and support. Often a student will be floundering but will not ask for help, and it is down to the teacher to be monitoring and be responsive to the student’s needs. And, as you can well imagine, some students need a fair bit of nudging to stay on task.
We must remember each time the Minister promotes COOLs, that online learning can just as easily be accessed in a school, in a physical classroom, and with a physical qualified teacher on hand for support and guidance. We need to ask, w why the push to make more learning remote? The Minister has not explained the rationale for this at all.
What the Minister is proposing is actually an extension to (and perhaps you might say a distortion of) homeschooling. I want to be clear before I go on – I fully support quality homeschooling – that is not the issue here. The issue is how learning is done, how it is delivered, and why this change is being pushed. People should sit up and listen when even home schooling networks have serious questions.
Concerns I’ve heard raised so far include:
When even home schooling networks are expressing concern about COOLs, people should listen; remember, they are the experts in understanding what is needed for a quality home-based education.
At the bottom of it all, one can’t help wondering this fundamental mystery of the fact that home-schoolers have been given little support or funding for years, but suddenly the Minister thinks learning at home is the bee’s knees. Could it be it’s only of interest to said Minister when it involves privatisation of another part of the education system?
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
We ended season one of Minister MegaLie Strikes Again with a cliffhanger:
Minister MegaLie released a mega-fib- POW!!! -during Parliamentary Question Time, almost flooring The Hipkins – KAPUTTTT!
Eagle eyed Activist Gal spotted the uber-whopper and challenged said Minister to confess to her super-falsehood – KAPOW!!!
Super Special Ed launched a mighty roar: “Justiiiiiice – we demand truth!” – PZZANG!
Minister MegaLie held off Activist Gal and Super Special Ed with her La-la-la Blinkers of Steel – OOOF!!$!
Monster Media walked away and didn’t look back – ARGHHGGGGH!
The Hipkins was struck mute – ZZZAP!
Super Special Ed wept furiously, as the silence rang in their ears – WAHHHGHGGGH!
Teach-A-Trons throughout the land held their breath – EEEEK!
Activist Gal hoped for a hero…
Season Two: Minister MegaLie and The Cloaked Protector
[Fade in to see Mighty Martin on the top of The Beehive]
Mighty Martin launches her email of shame into an angry Wellington wind – BAZINGA!
Carter the Cloaked Protector flinches and skulks backwards slowly into the Carter Cave – FLRGHGH!
[Tumbleweed and the sound of crows]
Carter the Cloaked Protector unearths an ancient text, The Scroll of Unaccountability – WHOOA!
The Scroll of Unaccountability gives Carter the Cloaked Protector the power to bury Minister MegaLie’s heinous deeds once and for all – MWAHAHAHA!
Super Special Ed let loose a might roar – RAAAARGGGGGH!
Teach-A-Trons arm for battle – KRANGH!
Activist Gal looks to camera and says
“Without you – without your voice – without your power and your vote – this evil will prevail…”
“But together… Together we are strong. Together we are mighty.
“Together We Can Get Justice!”
The crowd beings to whisper.
More start to listen…
Staunchly, Bravely, Intrepid Souls join the chant…
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
It’s been a year of non-stop changes and proposals. Some call it a war on free public schooling in NZ – indeed it feels like a continuous battery of skirmishes with little to no break between attacks.
If the Minister is purposefully undertaking psychological warfare to break teachers down, then she’s doing it well, because we’re worn out; We just want to teach.
So far this year, NZ public education has faced:
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things – there have been so many – so please comment below if there’s anything that needs to be added.
Meanwhile, look after yourselves – there’s still one whole term to go and, as we know, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.
PS, more added below!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is what Hekia Parata said in the House on 23rd August 2016:
We’ve already seen how Hekia justified her statement to Melanie Simons.
This is what she said when Glenis Bearsley questioned her:
Anyone else see a pattern forming here?
In parliament this week, Hekia Parata was asked who, if anyone, supports her plans regarding special education, and she replied with a smug grin that they are backed by the Special Education Association. It’s all there in Hansard:
Hmm…. Special Education Association? Who are they, I thought.
I asked on Twitter.
I asked people who are very close to special education, like Giovani Tiso and Hilary Stace. Nope, they’d not heard of it either.
Others asked too. I tried Facebook. I tried Googling. I’m good at Googling. But nothing.
And it wasn’t just me trying to find out. Members of a special education group on Facebook – a group that know a lot about this area, between them – were also trying to find out. What did they get? Zip. Diddly. Nada. Not a thing.
Oh wait – we tracked down a small group of people (like, 4-6 people, it seemed) at the University of Canterbury that might be the Special Needs Association! was this it? No. And anyway, that small band of merry folk are disbanding.
Was it the Special Educational Principals Association (SEPAnz?) No. Not them, either.
So people went to ask Hekia Parata’s Facebook page…. Melanie, for example…
It turns out Hekia made the association up!
IT DOESN’T EVEN EXIST!
I can’t even … I mean, really?
She just lied?
Seriously, she named this organisation in Parliament as backing her plans, and she now says it just means “all those involved in the delivery of special education” that she’s spoken with.
Utter and total tosh. The sector is dismayed by the proposals. Many are outraged. Parents are both angry and frightened.
By the way, when Melanie pointed out Hekia’s words were misleading, her post was deleted from Hekia’s Facebook page and Melanie was banned from it. This is common practice on that page, where only cheer-leading is allowed, not citizens asking reasonable questions. (My tip – screenshot everything).
Silence anyone that finds you out. What a wonderful, open democracy we live in. Tui.
Hekia Parata has stooped to a new low. She has lied. Openly and blatantly. I do hope the media and opposition MPs take this further. A Minister cannot and should not just make things up to pretend their plans have support.
EDIT: Another person questioned Hekia – here are those screenshots.
The Minister of Education’s announcement today that Communities of online learning (Cools) will be created to allow corporate entities to enter the education “market” is nothing but blatant privatisation, says the PPTA.
“Learning online is already here, ask any parent with children at school.” says PPTA President Angela Roberts, ‘What this does is open up a market for any provider to get public funding to offer online education, in competition with public schools.”
“Schools already have many ways of blending face-to-face with online learning. There will be no new opportunities created for our rangatahi with this change. The only benefit will be for business.”
“Coming at the same time that the funding review is proposing a standardised per-child amount being provided in a cash sum to schools, the proposal for ‘Cools’ sets up the possibility of student vouchers being used to fund private online schools.”
“There are two wildly incorrect assumptions that underpin this idea,” says Angela Roberts. “One is that online learning can substitute for face-to-face, and the other is that a more competitive market in education is going to lead to better results. Both of these fly in the face of all the evidence.”
“This policy would put New Zealand in the bracket of countries with the most free-market education systems in the world and similar to some US states. I don’t think this is what New Zealand parents want for their children.”
Government plans to legislate for children from 5 years old to choose to do their schooling online using private companies who do not have to have qualified teachers, will horrify both parents and educators, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.
NZEI President Louise Green said the plan undermined the very worthy goals for education proposed in the same legislation – the Bill for the new Education Act.
“We welcome the high level goals and the reassertion of the right to free quality public education in the Bill, Louise Green says. But New Zealand schools already offer online learning integrated with face-to-face teaching, although support and resourcing is needed to improve equity of access.
“However, in no way does the online learning framework the Bill proposes match what we know works best for student success. Experience of online schooling in the United States is woeful and all the evidence is clear that high-quality teaching is the single biggest influence in-school on children’s achievement, particularly for our most vulnerable learners.
“Particularly for our youngest learners in ECE and primary school, education is also about learning to work and play with other children and to experience both growing independence and a range of activities outside the home. Online learning cannot replicate important social and experiential learning schools offer.
“This proposal was not subject to any consultation prior to appearing in the Bill. We are concerned it will open the door to a new market in private provision subsidised by the taxpayer that will take resourcing away from public schools.
“There is also a serious threat that children with learning difficulties or other challenges will be pressured into online learning as the cheapest option, rather than the Government taking full responsibility for specialist, personalised support to enable every child to reach their potential.”
The Online Charter School Study 2015 by the Centre for Research on Educational Outcomes showed that the academic benefits of online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule. See other implications here or full report.
One gets the distinct feeling the Education Act Update is already written and these workshops are simply a merry dance to make us feel like we are being consulted…
It sounds cynical, I know, but after closely following the antics of Hekia Parata for the past few years, the only conclusion any sane person could come to is that her consultations are a sham and done only to fulfil the requirement to hold one, not to actually listen or learn or change anything.
I’m thinking of Christchurch, Salisbury, Redcliffs… of select committees and consultation with unions. I’m thinking of ECE reforms.
The plans are predetermined; consultation done in name only.
So why, you may ask, did I bother dragging myself to an Education Act Update Workshop this week? I could have stayed home and put the tree up. I know my 6 year old would have been far happier not to have to sit there for 2 hours – the iPad and the superb scones could only hold his attention for so long. But drag myself (and child) to the workshop I did, and here’s why.
It is important to make our voices heard.
It is important to hear what other have to say and to discuss issues with them.
And it is vital our views are recorded, in writing, on the Ministry’s wee feedback forms.
This is crucial even when the Minister isn’t listening. Perhaps especially when she isn’t listening?
If we don’t have a voice, the Minister can rightly say we don’t care what happens. She can say we agree with her plans – taking silence to be tacit approval. She can carry on with impunity, implementing her reform agenda. And that would be a disaster.
It must be on record that we stood up to this. It must be on record what parents, teachers, support staff, principals, whanau and students DO want. Because when the tide turns – and at some point it will – we must be able to point to evidence of what we were asking for and how things must change.
Our voices do matter.
A list of the workshops is here: please do go and be heard.
You can submit online here.