Following 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)
“We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes.”
“We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence.”
“We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.”
Below is a message sent home from Fergusson Intermediate to parents, explaining the very real concerns regarding IES (Investing in Educational Success). It explains the concerns of many, and is well worth reading and sharing with your teachers, BOTs and parents so they, too, can consider the consequences of the proposals being mooted.
At the last Board meeting the Board discussed and passed the following resolution.
That the Board
These concerns arise as the Government forges ahead with its hastily announced initiative to spend $359m on education with ‘Investing in Educational Success’ (IES). None of this $359 million to be spent over the next four years around the new roles will go into new resources for schools such as extra teachers or teacher aides improving teacher pupil ratios or even into general programmes of quality professional development for existing teachers and principals where it could have done great good. Instead the money will mainly go towards salaries and allowances for those teachers and principals who are willing to be selected for, and prepared for, the new super roles and then willing to take them up, creating a new level of public servants within education.
We are concerned that this money is not being appropriately spent on areas where there is evidence it would have an impact.
As we have seen of this Government, the way these changes are sold to us does not necessarily relate to the actual outcomes. They would have us believe that appointing Executive Principals to oversee 10 schools (while still doing their job in their own school) and Expert Teachers to go into other schools 2 – 3 days a week (while still doing their job in their own school) will improve student achievement. There is no evidence that this will work and we fail to see how removing a Principal from the running of their own school, or a teacher from the classroom for 2 days every week, will have any benefit for the students of that school and very possibly could be detrimental.
We are concerned about the effect on our students.
It appears that these Principals and Teachers will be appointed based mainly on their National Standards results – the unproven, unreliable and flawed system that this Government has introduced to measure one school against another.
We are concerned about the weight given to these unreliable measures.
Boards of Trustees, and those they represent – our community, have not been consulted, yet the management structure and the way in which staff are employed will change significantly under this initiative. We will lose the ability to staff our school as we believe best meets our needs. We, because of our success, would be penalised by losing our good teachers and management 2 – 3 days a week with no compensation. We, as the community, are the consumers of this service, by far the biggest sector within education, with the good of our children, and tomorrow’s children, at heart, yet we have had the least input.
We are concerned that there is no ‘community’ voice, and that schools will lose their autonomy and individual character.
In addition to the IES changes the Minister has stated ‘The most successful funding systems narrowed the gap between high-achieving rich kids and under-achieving poor kids by strongly incentivising pupil progress (NZ Herald, March 16, 2014). We are concerned that changes to how schools are funded won’t be around the need of the school or its students but rather the academic results. This would see high decile schools most able to meet achievement targets and therefore meet ‘incentives’ for funding, while lower decile schools with poorer resources, less able to achieve targets, penalised – effectively the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
We are concerned that this competitive model will create greater inequity in education.
As part of the ACT/National Confidence and Supply agreement (the tea cup meeting), the Government has initiated a review of the Education Act next year, already stipulating what will and will not be reviewed. They will not allow ‘matters that are currently the subject of Government initiatives, National Standards or new school types (Charter Schools) to be reviewed. However, it will review governance and management matters with a view to creating ‘increased regulatory flexibility’.
We are concerned that they will only review what they want to change – the Governance and Management model that is the key to Tomorrow’s Schoolsand that this could spell the end of a community voice in education. We are concerned that there is no opportunity to review the most recent and drastic changes to our education system.
We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes.
We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence.
We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.
We ask that you make yourself aware of the changes afoot. Think about not only today’s students, but those in 10 and 20 years time – your grandchildren, and their ability to access a quality education. Will the world that they live in give equal education opportunities to those less fortunate? Will we as parents and a community have a say? Will our children be on a treadmill from preschool onwards? Will we be growing great citizens?”