The first list of what National has done to education was lonnnng. Very long. And scary. Verrrrrry scary, You get my drift. But since it was published a year ago, there have been new horrors, many of which prove all the more interesting when you consider the $$$ involved:
Add to those ….
… and a picture is painted of a government concerned not a jot with the poorest or most needy in our society. What a sad indictment.
It appears the government has earmarked millions of dollars this year for Novopay remedial work, says the NZEI.
Costs associated with payroll services had previously been included in the budget for “Support and Resources for Education Providers”, but in the 2014 Budget, $43.2m has been pulled from that budget to create a dedicated budget line called “Payroll Services”.
This year’s budget also shows that last year $9.2m was diverted from “Support and Resources for Teachers”, plus another $4.348m from other education budget lines to prop up the disastrous payroll system:
$1.025 million from Curriculum Support (p 20 of Supplementary Estimates document)
$1.5 million from the National Study Awards (p 207)
$1.823 million from Primary Education (p 210)
$300,000 from Special Needs Support (p 212)
NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Ian Leckie said students and teachers were missing out on resources to support teaching and learning because of a payroll mess that had been going on for two years and appeared to show no signs of improving.
“The ministry needs to fess up and tell us how much of this $43.2m is for normal service charges and how much is for projected cost overruns and fixes. We asked the ministry last week and they haven’t been able to supply an answer,” he said.
Mr Leckie said parents of special needs children would be particularly galled to hear that $300,000 had been scraped out of special needs support to prop up Novopay.
“Special needs education is extremely underfunded and kids are missing out on help that will enable them to succeed at school. Parents and teachers have been calling for more funding. Not only was there nothing for these children in the budget, but the government has quietly siphoned much-needed funds out of the previous budget,” he said.
Meanwhile a report by the Auditor General details the extent of the problems that the school sector faced in completing their 2012/13 audits. It shows that Novopay has caused significant delays in auditing school accounts and caused an extra $1.5 million in auditing costs.
Ian Leckie says he’s not surprised by the auditor general’s report.
“Novopay is continuing to cause ongoing issues for schools and this is diverting attention away from providing kids with education.”
The dementor is in full swing, fairly skipping up the path of global education reform (GERM) throwing rose petals and blank cheques in her path, just behind her good pals George Bush, Michael Gove, Arne Duncan, Tony Blair and the other GERMers determined to leave our kids’ education to the whims of the market place.
Ooh I bet they are having one heck of a party!
Good job, too. I’m so very glad they are selling it all off. Schools schmools.
I mean, the free market has worked so very well in all other aspects of our lives, hasn’t it, with reasonable power prices, good telecoms services, stable housing market, no Wall Street crashes that rock the entire world markets.
Oh wait. I’m making a Hekia style faux pas here, aren’t I? A blunder, if you will.
Because privatisation does not necessarily improve services. In fact it can make them worse. And more costly. Much more costly.
Which is all a bit of a concern for me, because I like to know my tax dollars are being stent wisely, not just ferreted off into a poorly performing private sector company that doesn’t match what the public sector was doing in the first place.
I’m picky like that,
It’s not just me, though – even the Treasury has pointed out that private companies don’t do better than public ones – even if they are perceived to because they cherry pick their ‘clients’:
In fact public schools beat private ones hands down, despite having to cater for all students of all abilities, backgrounds, behaviours, and so on. Wow. Maybe we shouldn’t privatise all the things after all.
Maybe I should also go read what Allan has to say on the matter, since he has been at the sticky end of education for more years than I. He’s not teaching any more, so he has no vested interest whatsoever in how it all pans out. Let’s see what he says…
“As I’ve been saying for several years, National’s education policies have nothing to do with education, regardless of their spin about ‘raising achievement’ for all. This will come as no surprise to ‘thinking’ people but man, there are many out there who are still unable to open their eyes to the reality.
This includes far too many principals who damn well should know better.
Warning people – National and its cronies are set on a path to destroy New Zealand’s public education at all levels. The privatisation process is on full speed ahead. We have six months to stop it.”
Jeepers, he is rather concerned, and he has found a number of others thinking the same way…
I think I had best go and read the full thing. Bear with…
Okay, I’m back. So … maybe…. mayyyyybe…. just a thought, but maybe there are lots of folk out there that want to support and improve our public schools rather than cripple them and sell them off?
Like, off the top of my head, all those parents whose children will be at the mercy of this shackled and broken system, taught by a demoralised profession forced to focus only on test scores in maths and English.
And maybe the old who, when those kids are grown up, have to live in a world now run by them, at the mercy of the economy they create with their great test-taking skills (and high depression rate). Maybe they’d prefer well-rounded and well-educated people in charge instead?
Because, y’know, there could also be artists and dentists and musicians and physicists and counsellors and gardeners and dancers and doctors and hairdressers and chefs and inventors and, well to be honest, every single person in every single job and in every part of their lives needs more than to just be good at reading, writing and maths. Those things are great – essential – but they are not everything.
So, I think maybe I will stick with supporting public schools to remain just that – public.
For the good of everyone.
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.
“They are developing policies not to benefit children but to benefit those who wish to invest heavily in a privatised education system.”
“Since the current National government slipped through a policy on charter schools as part of their deal with John Banks and the ACT Party, the education system in New Zealand has started to resemble a chaotic mess.
This chaotic mess was started not to benefit New Zealand children but to open the education system up to wholesale privatisation. It has nothing to do with education children or improving standards or anything of that nature. These current education policies are drawn directly from Neoliberal Education Policy 101. They are utterly ideological and utterly doomed.
Their policies are full of contradictions. On the one hand the government say teacher quality is the single most important contributor to student success yet they are allowing unqualified and unregistered teachers to front classes in charter schools….”
A brilliant letter to the editor by Boonman. Read the rest here: My submission to Stuff Nation.
During Hekia Parata’s interview on Q+A today, Corrin Dann asks “Will National go to a full performance pay scheme in the future?”
Hekia answers (at 11.12 of video) “We already have very strong consensus from the teacher unions as well as the profession, they are on the working group, recommending the design features for this. We are very focussed on getting this implemented from 2015 and fully implemented by 2017″
Is she refusing to answer the question posted there, and actually continuing to talk about the new ‘super’ roles, or did she really just imply the unions are on board with performance pay? Because those are two very different things.
So, because she wasn’t clear, I need to check…
Because there is a loud voice from teachers that they do NOT want this. And with good reason backed by much research.
Is Hekia avoiding, evading, stretching facts, fibbing, or telling the truth?
We really do need to know.
In the new teacher and principal roles announced this week, the Key Government is reinforcing its education policy direction through a new mode of control, a new financial incentive to those who will promulgate its messages and through divide and rule of an ‘un-cooperative’ teaching force. The new roles will have different impacts in primary and secondary schools but it is in primary schools where they will be particularly horrendous. This is because of the small size and organisation of primary schools and because these schools will now face greater pressure to embrace unwanted and damaging reforms in this area such as the National Standards.
There are to be four new roles. There are ‘lead teachers’ (10% of teachers paid an extra $10,000 a year), ‘expert teachers’ (2% of teachers paid an extra $20,000 per year) and ‘executive principals’ (about 250 of them paid an extra $40,000 per year).
These are all ‘super’ roles in the sense that those who take them up will be required to work across other schools as well as their own, indeed the executive principals and expert teachers will only be back in their own schools three days a week. It seems to be the plan that there will be enough of these new roles to cover the system as a whole. For instance if 250 executive principals are supervising around ten schools each, this would cover the approximately 2500 schools in New Zealand.
The fourth category is the ‘change principals’ one. These are to be in a full-time role (about 20 of them paid an extra $50,000 per year). This is a ‘super’ role in a different sense, paid more to apply to be principal of a troubled school but ‘super’ in the sense of being expected to turn that school around quickly.
The new super roles are clever politics because they have been presented as a new investment in the sector. This line has been swallowed by most commentators and even by some of the teacher organisations, at least initially. For instance well-known political commentator Bryce Edwards described it as ‘National’s super-smart step to the left’. But no one should imagine the latest reform represents the leopard changing its spots. It is not a move to the left because the politics of the super roles are managerial rather than redistributive.
None of the $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 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 lining the pockets of 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.
Within the sector, Principals’ Federation President Phil Harding welcomed the proposals as enhancing ‘collaboration between schools’. But the problem is that the new collaborative arrangements between schools will certainly be intended to be of a required ‘on-message’ kind rather than more organic and genuine. The brief for the super roles are likely to require close adherence to Government perspectives, policies and targets and this is what those in the super-roles will then be driving into the classrooms and schools of those allocated to work with them. The new roles would be less of a problem if current education policies were more favourable. But the practices that those in the super roles will have to insist on will continue to be deeply flawed in both educational and social justice terms.
For those working under executive principals or expert teachers it may become something like having an ERO reviewer popping into the school on a regular basis and insisting on adherence to government policy rather than every few years as they tend to now. In fact under these reforms ERO might as well be disbanded: the people in the super roles will effectively be doing much of their work apart from the reporting to the public.
The relationships between school staff will become much less cohesive and trusting as the new roles are developed amidst resentment from colleagues. This resentment will be about problems such as who gets the roles, who seems to be hardly involved in the school these days, and who is intruding on successful practice in a particular setting. Ironically, the day before the release of the policy I was telling a teacher conference in Wellington how important collaborative staff relations had been to the six primary schools I have been studying over the last three years (the RAINS project).
The super roles proposal is also remarkably naïve about the impact of the different contexts and historical trajectories of schools. It is not that a skilled and knowledgeable teacher or principal couldn’t go into another school or classroom and help, but to get it right this involvement would need to be in the spirit that there would be much to learn and of needing to be slow to comment or judge because schools and classrooms are so different and the differences need to be properly understood in order to provide good advice. This is not at all the model anticipated by the new super roles.
So what will happen now? The new super roles represent deeply cynical politics because well-meaning teachers and principals committed to public education are
going to be bribed to undo it and they will often feel no option but to take up the offer.
Apart from the extra salary, the new super roles will become the markers of career progression, whether one takes up such a role or is looking for a job reference from the super role person to whom they are reporting. Even highly ethical teachers and principals may feel under pressure to take up executive, expert and lead positions on the grounds that if they don’t, unknown (and/or possibly unrespected) others certainly will. Better to take up the role than be working under someone else where you and the children in your care might no longer be as safe.
Actually, teachers and principals who want the best for the children will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. My advice is not to be first cab off the rank and to be very clear about what the super roles will involve before expressing any enthusiasm and signing up. In the meantime the teacher organisations have a lot of work to do to mediate the worst effects of yet another bad education policy from this Government, its most destructive so far.
Over the longer term, when the substantial money going into the super roles doesn’t bring the intended improvement in PISA achievement (as it surely won’t, most of the problems are outside of the control of schools), the stage will become set for the further privatisation of our ‘failing’ school system. But as I told the conference in Wellington this week, I intend fighting for public education until my dying breath. This is because it is only a public education system that holds the promise of delivering a high quality education to all New Zealand families, regardless of how rich or poor they are.
First, QPEC (Quality Public Education Coalition) welcomes the government’s intention to increase funding for education. However, we are concerned that the policy on school principals and teachers, while providing some potential positive measures, continues to miss the most important point.
Prime Minister John Key continues to state that “A mountain of evidence shows that the quality of teaching – inside the classroom – is the biggest influence on kids’ achievement.”
But this approach takes the focus away from what we know about student achievement.
As the OECD has made clear before:
“The first and most solidly based finding is that the largest source of variation in student learning is attributable to differences in what students bring to school – their abilities and attitudes, and family and community background.”
Source: OECD 2005 Report titled “Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers”.
So, while initiatives that may help improve teaching career paths and keep good teachers in the classroom are a positive step, they may not be sufficient to make a real difference to the students who need our support the most.
Much of the focus of the policy is on school principals. However, the research evidence demonstrates that the most important work takes place in the classroom. It is possible that these policies will offer some top-down skills that will help improve student learning in the classroom further. How widespread that effect will be remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, this is rather a banker’s solution – providing additional top-down expertise, and very highly paid at that, rather than a workforce development approach. As such, its success is not assured.
Much will depend on the quality and focus of the so-called experts. Another problem that comes to mind is location. Many of the schools that need a lot of support are not close to other schools where some of these experts will be based. And how much of the additional funding will simply find its way to the large, affluent urban schools that already post high achievement results?
What is a failing school and where will the Change Principals be deployed? The link between socio-economic factors, cultural factors and schooling outcomes are highly embedded and resistant to change. And what is it that the Change Principals are expected to change? The notion that one person can single-handedly overcome the power of social forces, social inequalities and community deprivation is a bit of a fairy tale.
QPEC strongly encourages co-operation and collaboration within and across schools. But we are concerned that so-called Executive Principals are expected to make a real difference in up to ten schools working only two days a week on this task. Who are these gurus, these exceptional people? Has To Sir with Love come to life in NZ’s education policy? Is this reasonable?
Any policy that values teacher skills and supports the development of their roles is heading in the right direction. But QPEC would prefer bottom up policies to trickle down ones.
We are sceptical of this policy but it may do some good work in practice. If so, it will largely be due to the dedication and determination of educational professionals on the ground.”
I went to the oral submissions on the Education Amendment Bill (2012) and amongst the lot of them there was just ONE very muddled and odd one in favour of charter schools and all of the rest were against.
ALL of them.
They came from academics, elderly couples, principals, unions, you name it, and all but one said the whole idea is flawed.
So why oh why is it that last week the Charter School Development and Authorisation Board was set up BEFORE the hearings committee report back? (With former ACT president Christine Isaac heading it.)
And BEFORE the hearings committee report back, submissions are being called for from prospective charter schools.
The committee has NOT even reported back.
The Bill has NOT PASSED.
But none of that matters to National because they are going to push these through come hell or high water.
Regardless of whether you think charter schools will be a good thing (and I will be very clear, I do not) it is not acceptable for the government to again run roughshod over the democratic process and plough on with the pre-ordained plans.
Shame on the New Zealand Government.
And shame on the people who don’t stand up against this disgrace.
This is not democracy.
Sources and further reading:
Bloody hell, Hekia! I cannot believe you’ve done it again! What IS it with you, that you have to trick, obfuscate and downright lie your way through so many fiascos? For the love of the gods and all that is holy can you not just act with honesty and respect?
So now we find out that you pretended to consult with Salisbury School regarding its closure when you and your predecessor had long since made up your minds that it would be shut down.
Let’s not beat about the bush here: YOU LIED.
You put very, very vulnerable children in harm’s way without any care in the world. You didn’t give a jot about the protests, the consultation, the arguments for why it was a truly terrible decision. No, you had already made up your mind and you let us all go ahead and waste our breath fighting to save the school.
But you were foiled, weren’t you, you devious devil. Because people did fight. And they got plenty of support and great legal advice, and in the end saved the school (at least for now) from your guillotine by proving to the courts that your closure proposal was unlawful.
Thank god people fought and fought hard.
Thank god for Mai Chen, their outstanding lawyer.
And all of this in spite of your untrustworthy, disgraceful behaviour.
Shame on you.
As Green Co-leader and education spokesperson, Metiria Turei, said today “They say Hekia Parata can’t be trusted to make an unbiased decision over the school’s future after her decision to close it was ruled unlawful, but I’d take that further. She has proven herself unable to be trusted with her entire portfolio.”
Novopay – signed off without checking the documents. Truly incompetent (and even then I am not convinced that’s the whole truth).
Class sizes – wrongly calculated statistics that had clearly not been checked.
Salisbury – predetermined decision, sham consultation and an unlawful closure.
Bloody hell, it doesn’t give any of us any faith at all in your quite possibly predetermined, heartless, and quite likely wrong verdicts for Christchurch next week.
John, be serious, put on your big boy pants and sack the fool, will you?
A message from NZEI:
Changes to education legislation to allow for the establishment of charter schools, is now before Parliament.
Public submissions are invited to the Education Select Committee on the Education Amendment Bill with a closing date of January 24, 2013.
Make sure you take this opportunity to make a difference by doing a submission over the school break.
Charter schools are a symptom of the Government’s Global Education Reform Plan which would allow for unqualified people to teach, companies to make a profit from schools and for power to be taken away from the local community in the running of its local school.
The Government has no mandate for charter schools – or “partnership schools/kura hourua” as ACT MP John Banks and Education Minister Hekia Parata call them.
They are part of an agenda of privatisation and competition that has no place in New Zealand’s high achieving system.
Find out more at our Facebook Group We Don’t Want Your Charter Schools.
Will Hekia Parata go or is someone else going to take the fall yet again?
Read more – Going… Going… ?.
Cock-up after cock-up, mess after mess, disgrace after disgrace. Yes, it’s National’s Education policies.
Not satisfied with the shambolic technology teachers/class sizes debacle, nor the way they have flouted due process and in some cases the law (Salisbury School and Christchurch), and trying to ignore the Official Information Act, or even National Standards and league tables and – oh wait – let’s not forget NovaPay… no, not happy with those bouts of complete ineptitude, now we have Gangnam Key refusing to front up to the country and answer questions about the recent resignation of Education Secretary Lesley Longstone.
This is shameful.
I’m not going to argue that Longstone should have stayed. But let’s face it, we all know she’s just the fall guy.
The resignation was given and accepted three weeks ago, and yet it was kept secret until after Parliament went into recess and both Longstone and Parata were on holiday. How convenient. And Parata, a Minister of the crown, refuses to pop her head above the parapet and say a word, like a kid found with her hand in the candy jar who decides keeping schtum is the best option despite being caught red handed.
Meanwhile Key is far too busy dancing on radio stations and having mock gay weddings to, well, do any actual Ministerial duties like, say, answering the millions of people of his country demanding to know what the hell is going on.
It really is too disgraceful for words.
Mr Key, Ms Parata, you cannot merely go into hiding and refuse to explain yourselves. You are employees of the state, voted into government by the people, and the New Zealand public want answers.
Now grow up, front up, and stop being ridiculous.
If you want to know more about National’s recent bunglings, see below:
Novapay debacle: Staff still not paid properly, and it’s getting worse and Paying $11Million/hour?!
Salisbury School: School closure deemed unlawful
Closing special schools – such a sane plan for our neediest kids to be cared for by the mysterious “wrap around service” where no-one is really responsible for them at all.
Read the rest of the article above.
In a repeat of National’s cost-cutting and closure of critical social services in the late 1990s, Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the closure of two very special; much needed, schools – Christchurch’s McKenzie Residential School and Nelson’s Salisbury Residential School,
These are schools which provide special education for children with severe behavioural difficulties. These are safe environments for children, who, because of their special needs, would find it difficult – impossible – to cope in mainstream schools.
Despite most of 365 submissions opposing the closure of McKenzie Residential School, the decision to close McKenzie and Salibury proceeded.
Which begs the question as to why bother making submissions when National rarely listens to a community.
As the decisionswere announced, Parata stated,
“At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more…
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