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Northland schools should be praised – Te Tai Tokerau Principals

poverty and school reform“Northland Schools should be praised and recognised for the hard work and expertise of their teachers and principals”, says Pat Newman, President of Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association.

He continues, “I’m actually amazed at how well we are doing. Northland leads NZ on every negative socioeconomic indicator available, yet despite this, despite the simple fact that resourcing for Special Education, behaviour, truancy, health, and wrap around support for families is totally inadequate, teachers and principals in Northland continue to teach to an extremely high level of expertise and dedication.

“Principals up here for many years, have told the Ministry, that whether the Ministry/Minister believes we have the necessary help based on their paper shuffling in Wellington, it is totally inadequate to cover the glaring needs of our children. Now instead of recognising we were correct, instead of providing the help we need, the Minister continues to refuse to acknowledge this and offers more talk as the solution! Northland again short changed!

“As a principal, I spend most of my days as a principal, screaming and fighting the agencies set up to help these children, who are themselves hamstrung by the resourcing levels set for Northland.

“It is soul destroying. Schools up here are dealing on a daily basis, with children who regularly throw furniture around, abuse teachers verbally, hit out at others, threaten, have no lunches, come from homes where drugs are rife etc. We know none of this is the kids fault, but it is impossible to get adequate help for them. Lots of assessment but little “dooey”!

“The Ministry itself has research that is kept quiet that clearly shows that absenteeism is the biggest factor in school success.

“The Minister continues to trumpet how she has improved learning in NZ, based upon what is widely recognised as based on shonky National Standards Data.
What is her answer? To send in more advice! More talking! More assessment.

“I know words are powerful, but we don’t need this. What we need is less talk, and more realistic resourcing to support to cover the needs of the children in Northland!”

Minister disingenuous about National Standards support funding

Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, is being economical with the truth regarding the support now being given to support priority students and schools, says QPEC National Chairperson, Bill Courtney.

national standards“The National Party propaganda material, sent to every household in February 2010, clearly stated that $36 million in additional funding was to be targeted at struggling students, and this was a key plank of the controversial policy’s introduction”.

This amount had been set aside as early as the 2009 Budget.

Anne Tolley told parliament, in response to a question from National MP Allan Peachey, that “The $36 million will go towards new intervention programmes currently being developed for students who need extra support in reading, writing and maths.” (Questions for Oral Answer no. 8, 16 September 2010).

But when the big day finally arrived, John Key and Hekia Parata announced on 26 August this year that only $27 million was to be invested in initiatives aimed at priority children.

Furthermore, many of the programmes to be funded included initiatives in place for many years, such as the $8 million earmarked for Ka Hikitia, the Māori Education Strategy first launched in 2008, and the Pasifika Education Plan.

It is clear that the students in most need of support are being short changed by a government hell bent on ideology rather than pursuing what we know works.

The funding commitment of $19 million to develop only 5 charter schools educating a total of less than 800 students is an insult to the students, parents and teachers of the schools who most need our support.

But the last straw was the announcement that a second round of charter schools is to take place before the “pilot” has even begun, let alone been evaluated.

QPEC reiterates its stance that National Standards is conceptually flawed, badly designed and poorly implemented. The data gathered from this system is neither valid nor reliable as an indicator of student achievement or school quality.

The negative impacts of National Standards are beginning to outweigh the positives and the students most deserving of our support are being sold out.


More from QPEC:

Multiple Choice


Is it reasonable to bail out private schools when local public schools have lots spaces?

(a) Yeah, we have heaps of money spare in the NZ coffers, what’s another $3 million between friends.

(b) Oh totally, poor Tarquin couldn’t possibly mingle with those children

(c) No


Is it reasonable to inflict undue stress on teachers, parents and students in Christchurch schools when there is still so much going on there already?

(a) Totally – what a few earthquakes amongst friends, it’s not like people lost their lives or homes, or livelihoods.

(b) Oh yes, we have to get on with it PDQ otherwise it’ll not be shot to buggery in time for the charter schools people to swoop in for a nice little take over.

(c) No


Is it reasonable for school staff to be out of pocket to the tune of $12 million because the Education Minister approved a system when it wasn’t ready?

(a)  Of course it is, those bloody teachers work two hours a day for six weeks a year and spend the rest of the time on the beach.

(b) Absolutely – they are paid heaps so they must have loads of savings to fall back on.

(c) No


Should Salisbury Special School continue to be undermined even after the courts declared the Minister had acted unlawfully in trying to close it down?

(a) Yes, it’s character building, all that stress, it’ll be good for them.

(b) Oh of course – it’s completely reasonable that all new student enrolment applications are dealt with by the ministry and not by the school.  That’s totally normal.

(c) No


Is it acceptable for the Education Amendment Bill submissions period to end smack bang in the holidays?

(a) Cripes, those teachers are always on holiday, it had to end some time!

(b) Oh for goodness sake, like anyone cares if they hand off our schools to all and sundry and pay them to run the schools, using our taxes, which they can cream off as profit.  Totally reasonable way to fund education.

(c) No


If you answered mainly (a) and (b) you need to do some more reading as you are showing signs of being slightly out of touch with reality.

If you answered ONLY (a) and (b) you are eligible to apply to join the ACT Party or its subsidiary entity, the National Party, and move to Planet Key where the golf courses are shiny and the toilets invisible.

If you answered ONLY (c) there is hope – you just have to make your voice heard.

Whining Teachers and Idiot Parents

That’s what Education Minister Parata would have us believe was at the heart of this week’s backlash against proposed changes to pupil:teacher funding ratios in New Zealand’s public schools.

It seems she and her government think that the parents are all fools who don’t understand, well, anything, bless them…

…and the teachers just want to be paid heaps to do beggar all and have half the year off, all the while moaning moaning moaning, and all because they are mostly rubbish and don’t want to be found out.

Okay, good to know we’re all held in such high esteem.

So, why were we really shouting from the rooftops?

Some people, those who knew a little about student:teacher ratios, instantly became concerned when the budget was announced, noting that the new ratios would mean larger class sizes and cuts in some subjects altogether.

They became further concerned when wee calculations on the back of envelopes showed that Ms Parata’s promises of minor losses were just not right.

So they started to ask questions.

More and more people asked whether the Government had indeed  got their figures wrong – very wrong.  They became concerned when they heard the questions and queries, and saw the avoidance tactics that took the place of clear answers.

Then folk started to ask whether Government actually had any idea what they were doing…

– Did they actually check things like this carefully and understand outcomes before agreeing new policy?

– Or…  was it that they knew the outcomes but had put such a huge level of spin on the facts that they’d become worthy of Walter Mitty.

In other words, people began to ask, was Government incompetent or lying?

Do I need to go on?

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