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:
- COOLs – out of nowhere and with no consultation at all, Hekia Parata announces plans for online charter schools for 5-18 year olds.
- Global Funding – a raft of proposals to bulk fund schools, including giving schools a set payment to fund teachers with the provision for schools to spend that money any way they want (including not spending it on teachers). This means government would cease to guarantee to maintain teacher/students ratios at current levels.
- Special Educational Needs – the Minister has proposed significant changes, but appears to have largely ignored the information collected at select committee. It was confirmed that there will be no additional money for SEN, despite a real issue with under-funding. There are proposals to divert current funding towards early childhood education and reduce funding for 5-18 year olds. Proposal to stop ORS funding at age 18 rather than 21. (And Hekia lied in the house saying the proposals have support where none exists.)
- Operations budget frozen – schools’ operations funding is frozen despite a hike in power and water bills, meaning a net loss of funds to schools. This means less money for things such as libraries, equipment, specialist classes, and teacher aides.
- Teacher Education Refresher course – ill-thought-out and inappropriate targeting of teachers for retraining costing $4k (and no student loans available for the course) causes huge amounts of stress for teachers and put pressure on schools as it gets harder to find relievers.
- Charter Schools – two more, despite the current ones missing targets set by Ministry of Education
- National Standards – the ‘National Standards: School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2014‘ report was published and reported that “evidence strongly suggests that [Overall Teacher judgements (OTJs)] lack dependability, which is problematic as OTJs are a central element of the National Standards system”. Despite this, National Standards are still being pushed and continue to be used by government as if they are reliable.
- Pushing PaCT – schools being pressured to adopt the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards. This includes workshops that give school staff very biased and one-sided information. There are still concerns PaCT is being pushed in order to later use the data for performance pay, despite research and experiences showing that teacher performance pay does not improve student outcomes and in some cases lowers it.
- Education funding diverted to private sector – proposal to give a larger portion of the education budget to charter schools and private schools, leaving less for public schools
- Untrained Staff unsupervised in classes – Minister proposed a law change to allow untrained ‘teachers’ to work unsupervised in public school classrooms (this while at the same time forcing trained teachers to spend $4k to upskill if they are deemed to have not done enough classroom teaching over the past few years).
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