Hurrah! SOSNZ’s investigation into the Teacher Education Refresh (TER) programme has got the attention of the Education Council, and Lesley Hoskin (Deputy Chief Executive of the Education Council) has assured me that they are looking into things urgently.
When I spoke with her, Lesley was very clear that concerns are being taken seriously and that EC is now aware that there are big issues. She said that EC will start by looking into requirements for itinerant teachers and relievers to undertake the TER programme, and will widen the net to look at the criteria in its entirety so that is can be applied fairly, reasonably and with flexibility.
It’s great that they listened, and great that PPTA and NZEI backed up the concerns we raised, but in order for improvements to be made, Education Council need your feedback.
That’s right, it’s over to you.
If you have done the TER, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form here. EC needs to know the positives and negatives, in particular regarding the criteria for having to do the course.
If you have not done the course but have concerns, you can also send feedback. Please make it as specific as possible so that the issues are clear. Email: email@example.com or use the online form.
I am, of course, happy to receive your feedback re the TER and pass it on to EC for you (anonymously if needs be) but in order to get specific situations reassessed EC will need your full name and registration number, so please bear that in mind.
If you want to have your own situation assessed to see whether you have to do the TER course or not, also email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form.
When asking for an assessment, make sure you give them your full name and teacher registration number so they can access your files and get all of your details. This is the only way to get an accurate answer.
If you want to email Lesley Hoskin direct, she is happy for you to do that. You can contact her at: email@example.com,nz
Lesley informs the that Education Council typically responds to email within 48 hours. If you don’t get a reply in that time frame, check your email spam box, and if there’s nothing hiding in there please call the Education Council and follow it up.
We’ve now got the Education Council in agreement that the course requirements are not as they should be; to get things changed, you have to let those with the power to change things know what your concerns are.
You know the drill by now: email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form
Over to you.
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
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?
Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.
Easy peasy – just add one magical, wonderful word…
Are you sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the charter schools issue. Because this is not going away unless you help make it go away, and pretending you can’t make a difference is not going to help!
If you’re not sure what all the fuss is about, ask!
Talk to friends and family, to your local teachers, do some Googling, read the newspapers and blogs, check out what’s being said on Twitter or Facebook. Ask questions – dig deeper. Always ask yourself who is saying what and why – including me, of course – and work out what YOU believe is best. Then act on it.
Unless you really don’t care at all what happens to our education system, please don’t just sit there and let it happen – trust me, this is not a time for burying your head in the sand.
Associate Professor Peter O’Connor Explains Why He is Concerned
Peter O’Connor,from Auckland University, explained on TVNZ’s Breakfast why he believes charter schools are the wrong answer to the wrong question and urges people to get informed.
Charter Schools Overseas
Charter schools overseas do not have a good record for inclusion, for equality, for results, or for openness.
In the USA, according to the CREDO report from Stanford University, about 17% of charter school pupils did better than would have been expected in a public schools, and almost 40% did worse – the rest did about the same as they would have done. So twice as many did worse than they would have done. How can that be classed as improvement?
Add to that the hellish stories of children wearing labels saying ‘miscreant’, the filtering out of anyone not deemed to be doing well (in tests), and the untrained staff, and you have yourself a disaster waiting to happen.
I know for sure that I would not work in a school like that and I would not in a million years send my boy to one.
Seriously, this is about the worst thing to hit education in NZ in an age.
Do not just sit by and let it happen – get your head in the air and start asking questions.
What Can We Do?
It’s not too late to lobby against charter schools in New Zealand, to write to your MP, the Education Minister, John Key or even your local newspaper.
They are not a done deal – not yet.
Make your voice heard.
“Oh you teachers, you just want everything to stay the same – what’s wrong with choice? Bloody teachers. Typical that they don’t want testing – trying to hide that they’re all useless. What about our poor kids? Gnash gnash.”
That’s what I hear, in various forms, over and over again in the debate about charter schools, and it’s an ill-informed, simplistic and sometimes downright rude accusation against a profession that cares deeply for the education and well-being of children.
Let me just be clear about something:
Teachers do not fear change – they embrace it.
Teachers do not object to choice – they love it.
Teachers do not fear professional development – they want to up-skill.
Teachers do not oppose testing children – they test regularly and value how it helps them plan how to move kids forward.
What teachers object to is change that is wrong. Change that will not help kids or that will help a small handful at the cost to many, many more.
Let’s look at some of the claims.
Testing Is The Work Of The Devil
Nope, not even close. Testing can be fabulous. National Standards, however, are not so hot. Don’t confuse the two. National Standards data is out of date before parents see it. It doesn’t tell them or anyone about how children are progressing. It has no reference to value-added at all.
What would be of more benefit than National Standards?
In other words, we want any testing we do to be effective and useful, and help children progress.
Teachers Are Useless and Don’t Want To Improve
If you believe this, you don’t know many teachers. Some are brilliant, some are great, some are good, and a few could do with improving. Like any other profession, in fact. Rather than beating up on an entire profession, would it not be better to add to the opportunities for professional development, fund more Masters courses, allow for more mentoring and so on? Make sure teacher training courses are to a very high standard and are teaching trainees about different methods of pedagogy, know in detail about how children learn and the stages they generally pass through, know in detail about dyslexia, ADD, autism, Aspergers, behavioural problems, TESOL, and dealing with distressed children. Teachers do a great job and we want to do even better – bizarrely, we rather like learning, and funnily enough we want to do our very best for our kids.
Teachers Don’t Want Choice – Same Schools For Everyone
Actually, no. We all know there is room for choice and that it’s a good thing. We know that no one system fits all. Which is why, in New Zealand, we already have Special Character schools, Steiner Schools, home schooling, private schools, bilingual schools, correspondence school, Te kura kaupapa Maori, State integrated schools, special schools, Health Units, and teen parent units, single sex schools, day schools, and boarding schools.  I really can’t see why another choice is needed. Anything that charters are deemed to be doing fabulously can be justified and then rolled out into the school system we have.
…And They Don’t Even Want Experts, Just Because They Don’t Have a Teaching Qualification!
Yes we do. We already have them! We already allow for experts or teachers without formal teaching qualification to work in our schools under the Limited Authority to Teach. It’s not the case that we don’t want anyone at all without a teaching degree, more that we don’t want people with no teaching degree and no experience and no expertise, but cheap – which is what can happen.
For The Love Of All Things Holy, Please Don’t Let Things Change
… said no teacher ever.
There are lots of things we would love to change. Off the top of my head:
The list goes on. (Please feel free to add more. in the comments below.)
So What Is All The Harrumphing About, Then?
It’s not choice people are arguing against, it’s the addition of a choice that will either do nothing or little to help, or prove more detrimental than good.  Our children are not a commodity to be traded with, and nor is their education.
You may not agree with the fight against charter schools, but be sure of one thing – we want to improve things.
It’s not change we fear – it’s negative change.
Teachers, parents, children, and all interested parties, the only way to progress our system is for all of us to research, query and learn, and for us to share ideas and listen to each other. So read up, ask questions, look into what is already available in NZ, find out what is working elsewhere, talk to kids, ask questions of teachers and politicians, and help identify changes that really will help progress our children further and faster.
Let’s Work Together To Improve and Progress.
That’s surely what we all want?
References and further reading:
I received this post on the SOSNZ Facebook page, and thought I would share it here and canvas well-thought-out responses.
“I’ve had a really good look at this page having been alerted to it by a good friend who I believe does an amazing job of supporting the education of our kids. And I know that we might sit on opposing sides to what I’m about to write and I accept that, and I’d also like to establish at the start that I hold no political office or affiliations. I’m simply a parent, with two kids who have been through high school (one still there – and at one of the best ranked public schools in the country). I’ve had experiences with great private school, and both good and bad public schools, so I write this from that perspective.
I wonder if this site is mostly politically driven and there seems to be an awful lot of National Party bashing – and re the whole focus of “Saving our NZ Schools” that seems to be lost in the fray of ‘Let’s Bash Paula/Anne/John…” etc.
What needs to be remembered here is that we are now living in the 21st century, and our schools are still based on the 19th century agrarian system which does not work any more. It’s great to have our kids taught to read and write etc, I’m not criticizing the basic principles of education here – but thousands of our kids are leaving school and university trained for jobs that no longer exist, or will not exist in their work-life times. Our education system was created by academic people who have preserved the academic levels and focused on bringing new professors through the system. They are the ones who are deemed to have succeeded – not those of us who may have fallen out of school and succeeded in our careers (at very high levels in many cases) despite or at times because of our ‘lack of higher education’.
So isn’t it about time that the teachers/professors/administrators of the teaching industry all stopped and stepped back to ask the question, how can we SUPPORT a quality change in this process of finding the best leaders, thinkers and tinkers who will help this world move successfully into the 22nd century? Some of our industries are embedded with people who are doing exactly that – I am personally working with an accountant right now who believes his industry needs a total shake up and makes a lot of sense about it when he talks about how to do so – I know bankers, trainers, engineers and other professionals are thinking the same way. A revolution is finally ‘starting’ to take place in terms of how we view what we learn vs what we can apply in the workforce.
I’ve been seeking ways for one of my sons (aged 14) to maximise his school years and have finally found a better school opportunity for him in Australia, so we are moving there for him to take up that opportunity in a few months. This raised the question for me – why do I have to leave NZ to get him the HIGH SCHOOL education he needs to become a leader and future thinker of tomorrow – despite him being in a ‘great school’ here. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have reached the same conclusion and are homeschooling their children.
So back to the main point – Our school system really does need a major overhaul, but will not achieve anything if continually held back by politically correct stalwarts of the system who fear change at any level. And the Media who play the role of provocateur will continue to find the seeds of sensationalism and thwart the process too. While the media maintain this divide and conquer mentality, nothing constructive actually gets done!
It’s time for this to stop.
I’m willing to bet this post is removed, because I am sure it will upset a few people in this group, and if it’s not, then I applaud you for allowing my free speech on this matter. I’m willing to take the flak that may follow, but surely some common sense must start to prevail Kiwis. Let’s start with that shall we? “
My response was this:
“Thanks, I really appreciate the time and thought you’ve put into this. I’ll try respond as best I can given the 3 year old gnashing at my heals, but may need to reply more thoroughly later this evening.
My agenda is not politically driven – as I said this morning in a post, there have been ethical and good National governments. I just really don’t think this one fits that mould at all, and the behaviour of late is very shocking. I would be appalled no matter what party it was.
I agree with you entirely that changes are need to the education system, but what really horrifies me as a teacher and a parent is that many changes are shoved through with what seems to be little thought or evidence supporting them, and seem to be more about a political agenda than about genuine improvements. The class size debacle, the dropping of so many technology teachers, data releases – they all appear to have been done in a hurry without proper thought and with very poor results. It’s irrelevant which party acts in such a way, what matters is that concerned people challenge such shoddy policy making.
You also should question the limitation put on teachers by the system the way it is – there is much that could be done to free up their minds and time so they could innovate more than they can now. It has to make us wonder why only charter schools are given such freedoms…?
I don’t profess to have all the answers, not at all, but what I do have is the will and the drive to make sure people like you are thinking about all of this.
And all views are welcome, as they always should be in any good debate.”
Your thoughts are very welcome.
Kiwis are not the protesting type. They like to make the best of things and get on with it rather than create a fuss. Sure there are the few who will camp up and challenge things or whip up a wee placard and have a march, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
So it is all the more poignant that the tide of disquiet about the government’s education policy changes is actually getting bigger and bigger each day and doesn’t look like ebbing away any time soon.
My view is that the class size issue merely acted as a touch-paper, focusing attention on not just that but also on other changes being made in education and caused a BOOM of realisation that some not so savoury things are taking place. Lots of not so savoury things, in fact.
And whilst I have seen some people defending the government’s stance, it really truly has been the exception, with hundreds of people challenging what is happening and only a small handful saying National have got things right. Hmmm, interesting, given that National were voted in by so many people not so long ago…
Could it be that even those that voted for this government are up in arms, too?
What can you do? Go to the page below and sign the petition, or get John Key’s email address and fire off a message to him, or join a social media group to keep up with what is happening.
But whatever you choose to do, and whatever your standpoint, do something – you can keep that tide of disquiet growing.
Make sure people hear what’s going on.
This is an interesting video and well worth watching. I don’t agree with some of what is said (possibly due to how it was edited, possibly because I just don’t agree), but it is very thought provoking and is a good place to get your juices flowing and the grey matter working on the subject of how we educate our children.
Watch it and tell me what you think. My feedback is evolving and is being discussed along with others’ thoughts over on the Facebook page.