Another NZ Herald Editorial on education misses the mark. In a bid to explain why most of the money in the Communities of Learners scheme is going to high decile schools, the writer leans on the tired and weary trope “it’s the unions’ fault”.
The writer doesn’t seem to know the history of the Communities of Learners scheme, from its initial incarnation as Investing in Educational Success (IES) to what’s currently in place Communities of Learners (CoLs). Nor that CoLs came about after a long and hard road of teachers’ unions pushing to improve the original IES scheme, which was, in its first incarnation, really quite dreadful. And the article certainly has no real analysis of the widespread concerns with the policy (by any name).
So here, I’ll fill you in.
Despite the tone of the editorial, teachers (and by extension, their unions) didn’t see the IES announcement and think “Oh yippee, I’ll dust off my pitchfork!” Instead, they looked carefully at the announcement, talked about it in great detail, asked a lot of questions, and found it seriously wanting.
So they did what any co-operative group would – they asked their unions to ask Ministry to go back to the table to make the policy more workable. Not so much mobs with pitchforks, more a hope for the education equivalent of a community farming co-op.
One of the biggest concerns about IES was the plan to pay a select few ‘super staff’ whilst adding to many people’s workloads and giving no extra funds for the students. It takes a team to improve things, and not recognising that was the first mistake. Teachers argued that the money for these select few jobs was over the top and, whilst a bonus for those taking leadership roles may be acceptable, the majority of the IES funding should be directed at the students rather than the staff.
That’s the other big problem educators had: the idea that a few super staff could turn everything around without a cent more for the students. No money for professional development or specialist programmes or teacher aides or therapists or equipment. Really?
And what about this notion that IES aims to encourage schools to work together to improve educational standards?
The IES scheme as government proposed it expected schools to work together whilst simultaneously competing against each other. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, is it not? But since most targets for schools centre around National Standards and NCEA pass rates, the scheme does indeed pose a competitive model. Add to that the fact that both National Standards and NCEA have very well known issues around reliability and parity, and we are opening the system up to all manner of problems.
Another claim was that IES aimed to make students’ transitions through the education system smoother. An immediate question this posed was, why was Early Childhood Education (ECE) completely left out of the equation?
One the one hand, Ministry are extolling the benefits of preschoolers taking part in ECE, and on the other hand they are setting up IES without ECE. The message is contradictory – does ECE matter or not? Is it part of a child’s learning journey or not? Teachers believe it is – in which case any scheme aiming for smooth transitions through the education system and greater collaboration between education providers should include ECE.
So no, unions didn’t dust off their pitch forks for the fun of it. They did what their members asked them to do, which is to go back to Ministry and work to improve this faulty policy. Which, to the best of their abilities and against significant opposition from Ministry and the Minister of Education, they did. And we now have Communities of Learners.
The new incarnation isn’t perfect. It still rests on data that isn’t reliable and still pits schools against each other by comparing pass rates without considering the very many variables at play. But it’s better than it was, and that’s a start.
Improvement takes collaboration. Improvement takes a shared purpose. Improvement takes honesty and trust. And while the Minister of Education and her Ministry are asking schools to do those things, they could do far better at leading by example. Perhaps if they had trusted educators and collaborated with them to form the IES in the first place, it could have been better, sooner.
There’s a lesson in there, somewhere, and if it’s heeded perhaps we can make Communities of Learners better still.
~ Dianne, SOSNZ
Pitchfork and farmer image: Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Press Release from NZEI
The latest announcement that just 129 further schools have expressed interest in the Government’s controversial $359 million Investing in Educational Success scheme is a clear indication of the lack of confidence that teachers and principals have in the plan.
It has been more than a year since the Prime Minister announced that the Government was intending to spend millions of dollars creating new roles for teachers and principals.
NZEI President Louise Green says to date less than ten percent of schools have taken the first step towards signing up to the scheme.
“This clearly shows that teachers and principals do not believe in the IES top-down managerial approach or that creating new highly paid roles for some will benefit children’s learning. That’s why the majority continue to reject the IES.”
QPEC wants to know why the extra resources provided by the government’s flagship teacher policy are overwhelmingly being captured by the schools that cater for the wealthiest suburbs of our richest city.
“It is now clear the ‘education for success’ is a policy to keep National and ACT voters in Epsom and Remuera happy, rather than to lift the educational achievement in our poorer communities” says John Minto, QPEC spokesperson.
“The glaring anomaly is that 21 of the 43 new teaching positions doled out in this funding round have gone to very wealthy communities in central and north Auckland.
“This is the government’s one big initiative in seven years to raise student achievement but ‘success’ funding is going to the already successful.
Low decile areas have been promised additional resources – they are the government’s priority. The lowest decile group of schools allocated funding will get only 2 additional teachers, and that is the only group in which most of the schools are serve poor communities.
The policy is supposed to provide expert teachers to support learning in areas that need it, but instead the majority of the resources in this round have gone to many of the richest schools in the country.
“The rich get richer and the poor get zilch”, said John Minto.
High decile schools such as Auckland Grammar are pocketing the majority of funding, while decile 1 and 2 schools are getting just 6%, even though they make up 14% of the schools in the scheme.
NZEI’s data analysis of the first 11 communities of schools (CoS) approved by Education Minister Hekia Parata late last year, shows that the allocation of resources will overwhelmingly favour the groups of large, high-decile schools.`
The Auckland Central and Mid Bays (North Shore) communities consist almost entirely of decile 8-10 schools and between them will have 46% of the in-school lead teachers and 44% of the teacher inquiry time in the current allocation.
Those two communities will also have 21 of the 43 expert teachers who are tasked with spreading their expertise across the schools in their CoS. In comparison, Napier’s CoS of seven decile 1 and 2 schools will have just two expert teachers.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green said primary teachers and principals overwhelming voted “no confidence” in IES last year because the $359 million for the scheme was not going to directly benefit children. Most of the money will go towards pay bonuses for lead principals and teachers.
“this data shows even more clearly that the kids who really need help are not going to get it”
“IES was supposedly about raising educational achievement across the board, but this data shows even more clearly that the kids who really need help are not going to get it. Lower decile schools are even less interested in IES than other schools because it doesn’t meet their students’ needs, so they aren’t bothering to sign up.
“Children need smaller classes for more one-on-one attention, more teacher aides for special needs, 100% qualified early childhood teachers and better resourcing of bi-lingual education for Maori and Pasifika. Highly paid “expert” teachers moving between schools overseen by a highly paid lead principal are not going to deliver the results the Minister wants, because IES is not what the vast majority of schools and students want or need.”
See also: Who has joined IES so far?
Out of over 2,500 schools in NZ, only a small number (listed below) seem to have so far joined the IES (Investing in Educational Success) clusters of schools.
Of the almost 2000 primary and intermediate schools, only 58 have signed up according to this list.
Given NZEI are currently negotiating their Better Plan initiative and the strong NZEI vote against IES in August 2014, it is intriguing that even 58 schools have signed up. There are rumours whirling that some schools were signed up against their wishes, but I have no firm evidence for this, so who knows.
And given the PPTA and high schools’ much more positive reaction to IES, it’s perhaps a little surprising so few colleges that have joined at this point.
It’s interesting to look at the Auckland clusters, where all but three schools are decile 9 and 10 and the lowest decile school is 7, and consider why that might be and how much value that is adding to the overall fabric of our education system. Where are the lower decile schools, and why?
And no charter schools. Why?
Anyway, there is much to ponder, and IES and the Better Plan will unfold as the year goes on.
For now, here are the lists – make of them what you will:
If you know of any not listed here, or listed by accident, please let us know. And, of course, comments are always welcome.
Sources and further info: http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/specific-initiatives/investing-in-educational-success/
Just 71 individual schools, or groups of schools, out of 2,500 have expressed any interest in the scheme.
“This is hardly a successful result for the Government,” said NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski
“It’s an inevitable outcome and shows what happens when the Government fails to work with school communities before trying to impose a top down one-size-fits-all approach on schools.
“Quite frankly, this is embarrassing for the Government. It shows that it needs to go back to the drawing board and start talking to teachers, principals and parents about how it can use the $359m in the best interests of kids and their education.
“I think this rejection is a win for kids because now it is clear that this scheme is struggling. We need to come up with something that will really benefit all kids’ learning based on what schools themselves identify as important.”
Ms Nowotarski said that this time the focus must be on the needs of students.”
– NZEI Press Release
Last week I gave a presentation to some Australian and English academics in Sydney (see slides below). I wanted to emphasise the dilemmas faced by the sector and how the opportunity to be ‘in the tent’ and negotiate had heightened rather than reduced those dilemmas. I tried to give a fair representation of the different points of view, along with some of my own framing of course. Here are some of the main responses from the audience (in no particular order):
Professor Martin Thrupp’s expertise is in: Social class and education; the impact of managerialism and performativity in schools; school choice and competition; international policy borrowing; contextualised approaches to educational leadership.
For more information on Professor Thrupp’s work and publications, see here.
Just as primary had a teacher organisation that headed rogue but was pulled back, secondary has one too, the PPTA executive, but not yet reined in. However, great news – from information just to hand, the PPTA is about to be provided with the opportunity to head back to good sense. But it will require its various branches to act decisively, publicly, and soon – soon so that it becomes part of the election debate.
I am now in receipt of a terrific declaration from a PPTA branch, sent to all branches – directly opposed to the PPTA executive support for the IES.
The main points set out in the declaration are:
We believe we are now in a position diametrically opposed to our sister union, NZEI, and such an opposition does nothing for the greater good of state education. We also believe that the IES proposals will not bring about the success envisaged.
This branch believes that the real cause of disparity in educational achievement is to be found in the composition of school rolls and no effective collaboration among schools can occur until the inequity inherent in such compositions can be addressed.
[All hail, the writer of this – whose name I know – you will go down in the annals.]
1. Although PPTA assures us it sought an early collaborative approach with NZEI as the two main state unions involved in the discussions, we believe that our emphasis on policy has outweighed any real attention being given to NZEI’s legitimate concerns.
2. PPTA should not have agreed to participate in confidential negotiations, thereby leaving its membership out in the cold.
3. This branch believes that if $359 million over four years can be found to improve educational success, then there are better ways of using the money than contained in these proposals.
4. This branch believes that the IES proposals will undermine the current working of schools by destabilising administration and teaching, through the removal of key people on an on-going basis.
5. This branch believes that the IES proposals will impact upon all current teacher workloads, not just those of the four categories of teachers envisaged under the scheme.
6. This branch recommends that PPTA should be looking at career pathways differently, to ensure the best teachers have the option of continuing to do what they do best, that is teach. Such scrutiny could involve:
Higher teacher qualifications on entry; a more rigorous teacher selection process; the quality of training programmes; a basic career pay scale that runs for 20 years for a qualified teacher; a separate MU pay scale that offers real incentives and rewards for responsibility both in time and money for middle management.
7. This branch also recommends that PPTA look at assessing the current classroom teacher workload, reviewing NCEA; its initial objectives and form, its subsequent modifications, its impact on teacher and student workload and learning. We propose that we as a union support the position of less assessment in schools.
So there you have it. As regular readers of this site will know, this declaration is utterly consistent with what has been expressed in various postings. And they will be aware of the fierce but defensive arguments in response by members of the executive.
The PPTA signing of the IES has seriously harmed discussion of the education manifestos of the opposition parties (Labour, Greens, and NZ First) and what a tragedy – these manifestos in total being the best manifesto expressions, in my memory, of the needs of children and teachers – early childhood, primary, and secondary. If we go down the farcical and dangerous IES track, it will be a heart-rending loss for education.
Organisers of this declaration, get it out there – this could be huge.
As most of you will know, PPTA and NZEI (the two teachers’ unions) have approached Investing in Educational Success (IES) proposal differently.
This is an overview of the different views and an outline of where NZEI and PPTA are currently at.
The post aims to give bald details in the unions’ own words where possible, without commentary, so that you can think further about the issues yourself.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO INITIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
NZEI’s VIEW (in NZEI’s words)
WHAT NZEI WANTS INSTEAD OF IES (in NZEI’s words)
PPTA’s VIEW (in PPTA’s words unless indicated by * in which case I have paraphrased)
I hope that overview helps teachers, parents and others.
I welcome comments and clarification from NZEI and PPTA on the factual content above, as needed, and would be very happy to receive any additional information they have and would like to share.
At the end of the day, and despite different approaches and disagreement on the way forward, I believe we all have the best interests of the students at heart, and so it’s important that all parties are clear on what unions and their members want, where they differ, why that might be, and so on.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
IES_factchecker_27aug2014.pdf (found on PPTA site http://www.ppta.org.nz/events/consulting-on)
Interim details of IES agreement as detailed by PPTA are as follows:
IES has changed significantly from the original cabinet proposal. The bottom lines identified by members as essential to the process have all been met.
Role A (formerly Executive Principal) is now the Community of Schools Leadership role.
Role B (formerly Expert Teacher) is now the Community of Schools Teacher (across community) role.
Role C (formerly Lead Teacher) is now the Community of Schools Teacher (within school) role.
The job functions for the above roles are as agreed in the Working Party Report:
(see Ministry of Education website Investing in Educational Success: design and implementation)
1. Community of Schools Teacher (across schools)
• $16,000 per annum, 10 hours per week (which may be timetabled weekly or used in
blocks of time throughout the year).
• Minimum teaching contact time of 8 hours per week
• Access for unit holders (up to two permanent MUs)
• Fixed-term, 2+2 years
• $750 direct PLD funding per teacher per year (tagged funding in the school’s operations
2. Community of Schools Teacher (within schools)
• $8000 per annum
• Minimum teaching contact time of 16 hours per week (12 hours per week for part-time
• Access for unit holders (up to two permanent MUs)
• Mostly permanent roles, up to 40% can be allocated on a fixed-term basis (same as
• $400 per year per role for PLD
• An additional 2 hours of non-contact time per week (which may be timetabled weekly or
used in blocks of time throughout the year).
Provision has been made for secondary schools to form Communities of Schools (CoS) where there is no natural grouping with primary schools.
There is provision for a senior teacher who is not a principal to be appointed to the Community of Schools Leadership position where this is appropriate for the Community of Schools (CoS).
Acting up allowances will be paid to teachers who pick up duties transferred from other teachers who are appointed to CoS roles.
There is also provision for members to apply for the Teacher Led Innovation Fund and PPTA will be involved in the development of a formula to allocate inquiry time into schools.
22 August 2014 Contact email@example.com
Okay peeps, I have been trying to get information about the PPTA’s interim agreement on the IES today. My goal in that was (still is) to understand it clearly myself, and to be able to fairly and honestly discuss it and share it.
People are asking a lot of questions, and the same ones are coming up repeatedly, from PPTA members and others.
People want to know, for example:
It seems, from the replies I got today on Twitter, the PPTA think I am on some mission to undermine the proposal. I’m not. If IES has morphed into something good, then of course I will support it. If I’m still concerned, I’d ask questions.
In either case, I want to share the factual info with PPTA members and others so they can make up their own minds rather than rely on soundbites and bias. What I’ve found so far is linked to below.
Thanks to Tom Haig at PPTA for the answers I did get and for the links to further info, which are very much appreciated:
So far I have been informed that:
The Minister’s press release leaves questions as it tells quite a different story:
“The Ministry of Education last week reached agreements with the PPTA, SPANZ and the New Zealand School Trustees Association, on how the new leadership and teaching roles will work as part of theInvesting in Educational Success initiative.”
Note it doesn’t say interim agreements. It doesn’t say might work. It says agreements and will – it speaks as if it is a done deal.
This despite it not being voted on.
It then states that:
“The Ministry of Education has now started the process of calling for expressions of interest from all schools who want to work together as Communities of Schools.’
This despite PPTA and SPANZ not having voted yet, and NZEI rejecting IES.
This rather smacks of IES being forced through whatever.
Which is why I think we all, at all levels of the education sector, need to be clear what is going on, and not just at our own level. Because we are getting all sorts of conflicting information, and it’s confusing.
And because if IES is brought in it will impact all schools, not just those that voted for it.
PPTA’s advice to those wanting more information is to go to them direct. After a dig at NZEI being my union (it’s not, I no longer belong to a union), a grouchy exchange on both sides concluded with:
Links to further info are here:
Kia ora. My name is Jenine Maxwell and I have been a teacher for 31 years, with only the odd year off here and there for babies.
Although most of my career has been spent in New Entrant classrooms, I’ve taught at all levels and at different management levels. I am currently a D.P. with both curriculum, Senco and classroom responsibilities.
Everyday I am grateful for a job that I am still passionate and hungry for, one that allows me to connect with, and make a difference in, people’s lives. Schools are the centres of their communities and as such we engage not just with students, but also with the parents and whanau of our precious charges.
Can receiving an increased wage motivate me to work harder, magically find more hours or an enchanted potion to meet all of my students’ needs in the minimum time?
Absolutely not, particularly as I, along with most teachers I know, have never been in the job for the pay packet anyway.
If I am identified as an excellent teacher, dragged away from the students and school that needs me to go and help another, supposedly less successful school, I would then have only half the amount of time and energy to devote to two settings.
Common sense, not politics, tells me that I would soon have two failing settings, as well a nervous breakdown, to show for my hard work.
For the Prime Minister to accuse NZEI of political motivations is disingenuous to say the least.
If Key were offered the same conditions, an increased pay packet to spend half of his time across the ditch fixing their economic woes, I doubt he would accept the challenge. And if he didn’t, would it be because he was in the back pocket of the unions. He would consider such an accusation preposterous.
Yet for some reason he views teachers as so naïve and malleable, that we would follow NZEI’s recommendations without any research, thought or common sense of our own.
As a taxpayer, I find it astonishing that he is so determined to pay government employees more money, while failing to increase spending on resources and staffing within schools. I wonder how many parents would be happy with that equation?
The Standards, the Expert Teachers from Beacon Schools, the Super Head.
I was a Beacon Schools teacher. I led in-service for Deputy Principals and Teachers on using assessment effectively to target children.
I worked with teachers to better analyse data. Organise their systems and interpret info they had.
My kids from a low decile school did as well as kids from affluent areas because as a staff we worked our socks off together, collaborating, sharing info, communicating.
When we became one of the first Beacon Schools it seemed important to share our practice with others. We went corporate. We hosted other teachers from a range of schools. They loved coming to see our school.
We saw it as a positive at first.
Then we started to get tired. We were still full time teaching and this was extra-it didn’t matter that we were paid a bit extra-time is finite in a week. The advisors who used to support schools vanished and we seemed to be taking over their role without the full support needed to do the job well. No secondments, just fit it all in.
Extra cash yes but only for me and not for the classroom (like many teachers I spent it on my class though).
I worked at weekends, I slogged and planned and delivered.
Did I make a difference-to my children in my own class-yes, they started to fail.
They were Reception Age kids (age 4 to 5)-the upheaval of other teachers coming in and me being out disrupted their education. I began to lose my creativity. I began to teach only to a test. I became a narrow educator.
So I worked harder to make sure I didn’t fail them.
I watched as my own children at home went out for the afternoon with someone else at the weekend because mum was too busy. Still I worked hard, believing I was doing some good.
Then one day I looked in the mirror, looked at my class, looked at my own 2 children and questioned WHY!
Why was I working every hour I wasn’t sleeping?-the answer, so schools could meet their government targets.
The children were not benefiting from a broad experience, they were being jumped over hurdles.
I had never been motivated by the money.
I stopped, gave up my responsibilities and had 3 months off, moved to a cottage in Scotland.
I was not about money; I was about growing great kids.
I was happier and so were my kids.
Then I missed the classroom and back I went.
Then I heard of a place where innovation and creative thinking were still valued in teaching, where there was a holistic approach, where discussion and dialogue between professionals was encouraged-so I came to NZ.
I loved it.
Then… we all know what happened next.
The Who summed it up ‘We won’t get fooled again!’
This is a round-up of the immediate press releases and news reports on today’s IES rejection by the primary education sector:
NZEI Press Release: Primary teachers and principals vote to put kids first and reject the IES
Teachers and principals have voted overwhelmingly against the Government’s controversial “Investing in Educational Success” policy, including proposed highly-paid principal and teacher roles.
A resounding 93 percent of teachers and principals voted “no confidence” in the government’s plan.
When asked whether they wanted to try to reshape the policy or start again, 73 percent voted to reject the proposed new roles outright rather than try to change the policy through negotiation.
Instead they have called on the Government talk to parents, teachers and principals to to come up with a better way to spend the $359 million directly on children’s education.
Labour Party Press Release: National’s flagship education policy dead in the water
National’s plan to create executive principals and expert teachers is effectively dead in the water with news that 93 percent of primary teachers have no confidence in the scheme, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
NZ Herald: Teachers reject Govt’s flagship education policy
The NZEI union has announced that it will not engage in collective negotiations in an attempt to shape how the reform will take shape.
Ninety-three per cent of its members who voted said they had “no confidence” in the government’s plan.
Dominion Post: Teachers reject Govt’s education plan
The country’s biggest teacher union has overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s $359 million education policy.
The announcement today by NZEI that 93 per cent of teachers and principals voted “no confidence” in the policy could potentially scupper the Government’s Investing in Educational Success plans.
The policy, announced in January, has divided teachers and principals and only minutes before NZEI’s announcement the Minister of Education revealed a memorandum of understanding has been signed with a number of principals from other organisations across the country.
I will share more as news come out. (MORE BELOW NOW!)
UPDATES – MORE ADDED at 16.42, 21/08/14
PRESS RELEASE: Latest F for Hekia Parata – Green Party
The Green Party agrees with the need for more collaboration and non-contact time for teachers, but disagrees that the Government’s hierarchical approach is the way to achieve that, said the Green Party today.
The NZEI today voted with a 93 percent majority to reject the Government’ flagship education policy.
“This is the latest of the Minister’s expensive flagship education policies that she has failed to get over the line,” said Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty today.
“Hekia Parata needs to stop meddling with the system and start working with it instead.
John Gerritsen, Education Correspondent at Radio NZ should be hanging his head in shame for this headline:
“Principals agree pay cut for key role”
The same line was also used here:
What’s the problem?
For those not in the know, it sounds like secondary principals have slashed their wages in a noble move to back the government’s Investing in Educational Success (IES) proposal.
And by framing what happened as a pay cut, there is an implication that secondary principals are so enamoured by IES that they are willing to pay for the privilege of being part of it.
Since when has agreeing an EXTRA THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR instead of forty thousand dollars a year been a pay cut?
Yes, that’s right – despite the headline, the truth of the matter is – and I quote – secondary principals agreed only to “reducing the extra money paid to principals who take two days a week to lead a cluster of schools from $40,000 a year to $30,000”
Pay CUT my fat hat.
Upon Querying Radio NZ
When I challenged the misleading headline on Twitter, Mr Gerritson responded:
“Yes, original headline was “School principals agree $10k pay cut for top jobs” – was abbreviated to fit on our site”
Sorry, Mr Gerritsen, I think you rather missed the point, there: the longer headline is no better.
Let me spell it out for you – THERE IS NO PAY CUT.
Tired of Journalists’ Spin, Misrepresentation and Untruths
Whatever your position on IES (and there are many), it is outrageous for our national radio station to have headlines that manipulate the truth so wildly.
Surely if we have learned nothing else this week, it is that people are sick and tired of spin and would like some honest reporting from journalists.
Furthermore, just how does reducing the payment by one quarter address what Radio NZ calls “the suspicion that the principals leading a cluster will wield considerable, and unwelcome, authority over their peers”?
Gerritsen says this concern was fuelled by the amount of money those taking the role would get, but that’s just rot.
Concerns about secondary principals’ authority over other schools – particularly primary schools – has nothing to do with exactly how much they are paid but about what their goals will be. All along, the Minister has stated the person in that role will have to focus on ‘raising standards’, and it is this and the entrenching of ropey National Standards that concern parents and teachers.
To reduce it to a petty squabble about who gets the most money is to seriously misrepresent the issue.
Further info: Principals vote for pay cut – Originally aired on Morning Report, Wednesday 20 August 2014