It was great, today, to see so many coalition MPs, including the Prime Minister, turn up in the Beehive’s grounds today to hear and acknowledge why NZEI members were striking.
Chris Hipkins spoke eloquently about his understanding of the issues, agreeing that more must be done for students with special educational needs and that staff workload and retention issues must be addressed, and for that we were very thankful.
And we understand that not everything can be addressed at once. We get that this government inherited a cesspool of bad policies from National and ACT. We know the pot of money is not bottomless. But we also know we are in dire straits right now. That the issues are happening all around us, and there is no time to waste.
So, whilst we are very glad this government treats education staff with respect and genuinely seem to listen to us, we need more than just sympathy; We need action.
Before it’s too late.
I’ll be honest, when it comes to education policy, I’m not enthralled with everything the Labour coalition government’s done so far.
In particular, I’m more than a bit annoyed about the piddling increase in schools’ ops budgets, and don’t get me started on not reinstating 100% trained teachers to Early Childhood Education (ECE). And the increase to Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) funding doesn’t cover the full need out there, Teacher Aides are still being paid out of the operations budget (competing against the power bill and the money for loo rolls), and the teacher pay offer is galling. Very galling. But it would be madness to say this government isn’t an improvement on what we had for the last nine years.
Already this government in the process of getting rid of two of the hugest bones of contention for so many in the education sector – National Standards and Charter Schools. As soon as the government was formed, the announcements were made, and it’s moving as fast as the wheels of Government allow given that changes to the Education Act are needed.
The government’s also reviewing Tomorrow’s Schools to see if it’s fit for purpose, and looking at NCEA for the same reason, including inviting feedback from the education sector and the wider community. And school funding is being reviewed, too, to see if there are better ways than the current decile system, which everyone agreed for years is a blunt instrument but nobody had yet replaced. So they’ve acknowledged that changes may well be needed and they’re seeking feedback – this I like.
It also matters that the current Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, and the Associate Education Minister, Tracey Martin, both speak about teachers with respect. It seems like such a small thing, but after almost a decade of vitriol, it’s needed and it’s so very, very welcome.
So, yes, there’s a lot more to do, and we are entitled to gnash and wail about the pace and the bits not yet addressed. And we absolutely should continue to watch every move and hold our Ministers to account. But to say nothing’s changed would be wrong. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we had for almost a decade.
As Rita Pierson might have said, we ain’t there yet, but we’re on the road.
Educators will need to be consulted heavily if the overhaul of education announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins today is to be successful.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said NZEI welcomed the reforms.
“We are generally pleased with the direction this Government is taking in education. We encourage the Minister to take the time needed to undertake the reform properly. Careful and planned implementation is needed and would set this Government apart from the previous National Government.
“There are huge and pressing issues that need resolving in education. Today’s announcement gives us some hope for these being addressed.”
The issues include: teacher shortages and the ability to attract and retain teachers, sufficient release time for teachers to teach and lead, ECE funding and a need to fix the ECE sector issues more generally, principal burn-out and stress, and more support for children with additional learning and behavioural needs.
“We want a world-leading curriculum and an education sector that fosters children’s love of learning and allows teachers to the freedom to teach and engage children in the learning that motivates them.
“However, the reforms will only be successful if teachers are meaningfully consulted in the development of the new programmes.”
Teachers were the experts in education and were able to bring to the table best practice and real world experience of children’s learning.
Over the past nine years under the National Government education has languished to the point that it is now in crisis.
Below is the official outline what is in The Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) Amendment Bill currently before parliament:
The purpose of the Teaching Council (the Council) is to ensure safe and high quality leadership, teaching, and learning for children and young people in early childhood, primary, secondary, and senior secondary schooling in English medium and Māori medium settings through raising the status of the profession.
It stands to reason, therefore, that the governance of the council should be directly elected by, and representative of, the teaching profession as well as appointed lay representatives, and that its name should reflect the central role teaching plays in quality education.
The teaching profession has less control of its affairs than most professions.
For example, the current Council provisions contrast with how members are chosen for the Nursing Council. In 2009, the-then Health Minister Tony Ryall led the modification of that appointment system to enable nurses to elect members of the council.
The rationale for that move was that it was an important step toward giving nurses greater say in decisions affecting scopes of practice, competence and safety.
The Education Act 1989 currently provides that the new Council comprises 9 members. The Minister of Education appoints all 9 members. There are no elections.
This Bill retains an independent statutory basis for the Council, but its governing body is a mix of teacher members elected directly by the teaching profession and lay representatives appointed by the Minister of Education.
It is possible under the current Act that 4 of 9 Council members are non-teachers. “At least 5 of the members must be registered under section 353 and hold a practising certificate under section 361”- Schedule 21, clause 1(1) and (2). This Bill proposes that teachers should be in a majority in the leadership of their own professional body.
Teachers expect that membership of the Council should include appointments in the public interest, but it is only logical to build teachers’ ownership of the organisation required to promote and monitor the standards of their profession by ensuring they have a direct vote on some Council members.
The teaching profession supports greater legal independence for the Council, but it cannot, and will not, be perceived to be independent of Government as long as all of its governance body members are directly appointed by the Minister.
This Bill proposes that the membership of the Council be increased to 13, to include a senior ECE leader and a teacher educator and 5 other qualified and registered teachers/teacher leaders. Ministerial appointment fills the 6 other member positions.
This link takes you to the full Bill, if you wish for more detail.
~ Dianne, SOSNZ
One of the most insulting and insidious things done to teachers by the previous government was when Hekia Parata removed democracy from the Education Council. Teachers were still required to fund the body through involuntary registration fees, but had no say on who made up the Council itself; Hekia hand picked every member of the Council herself.
The move from a focus on it being a teachers’ body to something more akin to an outer arm of the Ministry of Education was made patently clear with the removal of the the word ‘Teachers’ from its name. At that point, the Education Council ceased to be teachers’ representative body in both deed and name.
So it gave me great pleasure to see that the current Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has a Bill before Parliament (Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill) that aims to right these wrongs and that this was supported in House by Tracey Martin (NZ First, Minister For Children) and Chloe Swarbrick (Green Party).
What gave me the greatest pleasure, though, was hearing Jan Tinetti (Labour) support the Bill. Jan has been a teacher and principal for over 20 years before becoming an MP last year, and she well knows the damage done to teacher morale over the past few years. She spoke for thousands of us when she said:
“The lowest point as a principal that I saw teachers get to was when the Education Council was set up under the Education Amendment Bill a couple of years ago. It was a real kick to teachers. It was where teachers said ‘the government doesn’t care about us – we don’t matter to them any more’ And we felt low. As a teaching profession, we felt lower than low.”
Jan hit the nail on the head when she pointed to the move being about control and punishment, saying:
“This was a punitive approach and was seen as a punitive way to control us as a teaching profession.”
She then rightly explained:
“…as any behavioural psychologist will tell you, punitive approach never brings out the best in anybody…”
Teachers felt downtrodden, mistrusted, and insulted. (And is it any wonder there’s a recruitment problem when the government openly treated us that way?) But change is afoot.
The changes proposed in the Bill aim to restore democracy to the teachers’ professional body by having 7 Council positions that are voted in by teachers, and restore teachers’ faith that it is their professional body by renaming it the Teaching Council. And in doing these things, it also restores hope that once more we have a government that respects teachers.
Mutual respect, honesty and integrity go a long way to bringing out the best in us all.
Here’s to better times.
~ Dianne, SOSNZ
You can (and should) enjoy Jan Tinetti’s speech in full, here:
Make a cuppa, grab a couple of bikkies, and take the time to watch this video before you choose where to put your vote on September 20th.
“The Wellington region of the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) invited the main political parties’ education spokespeople to deliver their views to a live audience.
Here is the video clip of the well attended event.”
“This is the last chance teachers have to elect their own council before the Government replaces it with the newly formed Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (EDUCANZ).
“Education Minister Hekia Parata has cited low voter turnout as a justification for doing away with elections altogether. That’s clearly caught people’s attention and the high interest in this year’s council election shows just how much teachers value their voice.
“For a professional body to be effective it must have the confidence and support of those that it seeks to govern. EDUCANZ won’t have that support because teachers feel so disempowered as a result of its creation.
“Submissions to the select committee considering this change overwhelmingly opposed the removal of democracy from the teaching profession. In fact, the Government’s wider education reforms were completely opposed by 91 per cent, or 855 of 937 submitters.
“Labour believes teachers should have their own voice.
“A Labour Government will guarantee their right to elect their own representatives to their professional body,” Chris Hipkins says.
For more information:
and think parents are on your side.
and if you believe teachers agree
with what you are doing
and don’t feel taken for a ride,
a straight answer?
Have you lied?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Here, Chris Hipkins and Catherine Delahunty try to get a straight answer out of Hekia about proposals to change the way schools are funded:
“Is this change good for education?”
That’s the question Chris Hipkins tells us to ask ourselves of the proposed charter schools. And after trawling through mountains of evidence over the past year, I have to say the answer is no.
Like Chris, I believe we should be focused on making sure every student in New Zealand can achieve their potential, in all schools. We should be raising the bar, focusing on those not achieving their potential, and supporting all of our schools to innovate within and share good practice so that the whole system s brought up and improved further.
Charter schools are not the answer. They are not about education. They are not about improving our system. They do not aim to make things better for all students – not even for all Maori or Pasifika students. They are not about collaboration and the sharing of best practice.
They are about privatising schools, pure and simple.
Chris points out that all evidence is clear that teacher quality is a huge factor in the success of a student, and yet this Bill lowers the bar rather than raising it. Last year the government were saying all teachers needed a Masters Degree – now, apparently, a teacher can be anyone, with no training whatsoever. Why the change? It’s simple – the government will say anything to attack teachers, but suddenly change tack when it comes to “private, profit-making institutions”.
Chris’s speech in full is here and raises many issues with charter schools that people (including many teachers) may not be aware of. It’s really worth watching.
Catherine Delahunty put it bluntly but correctly, yesterday, when she said “this Bill is ridiculous and it is also quite sick”, going on to point out that it allows for children to be used in an experiment that evidence shows to work very poorly for minority groups.
Catherine pointed out the obvious that when parents in poor families are working very long hours to bring in a pitiful wage, there isn’t a whole lot of time left to help with a child’s education. Little time to give a hand with homework. Not much spare to buy computers so kids can work at home. Nothing left for school donations.
Poverty is a key factor in poor education achievement, as recognised by the OECD, and yet nothing has been done to address that important issue. While families are facing inequality on the level New Zealand sees, there will always be inequality in education, too.
Why does government not tackle poverty? … Maybe because it doesn’t make businesses any money?
What this Bill is really about is privatisation for the benefit of businesses and corporates, some of whom are not even Maori, Pasifika or Kiwi. If it were about helping all kids succeed, then ALL schools would be given the same freedoms.
Metiria Turei challenged National and ACT politicians to send their children to a charter school.
They probably would, to be honest. Not yet, but in the long run. Because once the pretence of charters being for the poor kids, the brown kids, the lower achieving kids, is over, the truth is we will see charters appearing for wealthy kids, essentially providing publicly-funded private schools with no accountability.
Be very clear: This is not about the ‘long tail of underachievement’- it is a sneaky and underhand way of bringing in private schools that public money pays for, and in the end those schools will be for wealthy kids.
Tracey Martin gave an outstanding speech, too, outlining why this Bill makes a mockery of the submissions process and democracy Many on the panel choose to ignore expert and popular opinion, instead listening with deaf ears and closed minds, following an ideology that they were predetermined to accept no matter what.
This is New Zealand under this government – they forge ahead in favour of only themselves and businesses.
Tracey pointed out that Maoridom is not in favour of charter schools. Submissions from Maori were overwhelmingly against.
She pleads and I plead with Maori and Pasifika people to contact their MPs and tell them how you feel.
Even if you do want charters, make sure you tell them what boundaries you expect, what support, what oversight.
If you do not want them, speak up now, because time is running out, and the Maori Party is about to sell you down the river.
Sue Moroney hit the nail on the head when she said “Our kids are being used as guinea pigs,” saying that it wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t already know from the evidence that charter schools do not work. She asked why the select committee ignored the concerns of Nga Tahu, who do not want charter schools. She asked why the children of Christchurch are being used in this experiment when they are already in the middle of upheaval and stress.
Nanaia Mahuta acknowledged the thousands of parents, teachers and others who took the time to make submissions to the select committee.
With over 2000 submissions, just over 70 were for charters, about 30 had no opinion, and the rest were against. Just read that again: The Rest Were Against. And those against came from all quarters, from professors and parents, from teachers and students, and from iwi.
Hone Harawira, Leader of MANA, said charters “represent a direct attack on kura kaupapa Māori, and on public education generally,” pointing out that “successive governments have starved kura kaupapa of funding from the get-go, [yet] they remain one of the most successful educational initiatives for Maori by Māori, in the last 100 years.” Like many observers, he is aghast at the Maori Party for supporting charter school proposals, saying “The Maori Party should be ashamed for turning their backs on everything that kura kaupapa Maori stands for.” Source.
So let me close by asking you this.
Who does support charter schools? And why?
Ask yourself that, and really think about it. Not on political party lines, but as a Kiwi.
Ask yourself what the motivation for charter schools really is.
Ask “Is this change good for education?”
Chris Hipkins | Tuesday, February 5, 2013 – 12:58
The Government’s obsession with meddling with school funding is hugely disruptive, and is doing nothing to help improve children’s learning, says Chris Hipkins, Labour’s acting Education spokesperson.
“Reports that the Treasury wants to revisit the bulk funding of schools to encourage performance pay for teachers is just the latest ideological burp from the National Government that brought us increased class sizes and charter schools.
“Schools should be focused on improving educational outcomes for kids, not constantly engaged in never-ending funding battles.
“Bulk funding isn’t about children’s learning. It isn’t about teacher quality. It is all about cost cutting and saving money.
“And it is the ultimate exercise in passing the buck. Bulk funding is designed to allow the Government to duck responsibility for funding cuts by placing all the burden on schools.
“So now we know how Hekia Parata is going to fill the funding hole caused by the class size back-down – she’s going to make it the schools’ problem.
“Hekia Parata should concentrate on getting the basics right – paying teachers on time for example – instead of messing around with school funding,” says Chris Hipkins.
Don’t make Christchurch kids charter school guinea pigs
Wednesday, 10 October 2012, 12:11 pm
10 October 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Don’t make Christchurch kids charter school guinea pigs
Parents and students in Christchurch have every right to be worried about the Government using the education recovery process to experiment with privitised education and charter schools on them, Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
This morning the Christchurch Press revealed that one of Hekia Parata’s relatives is moving ahead with plans to open a new ‘special character’ school offering Maori immersion education. At the same time, seven out of the ten existing state schools offering Maori immersion education are earmarked for closure or merger.
“People I speak to in Christchurch are rightly worried that the Government seems to be ‘clearing the decks’ for charter schools.
“Hekia Parata’s potential conflict of interest extends well beyond approving or declining her relative’s charter school application. So many of the other decisions she is making will have a direct impact on the number of kids it might be able to enrol.
“Charter schools are an ideological experiment. The students of Christchurch have been through enough in the last two years. They don’t deserve to be made guinea pigs as well,” Chris Hipkins said.