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More “consultation”, Parata style – testing Y9/10s

in good faith - Hekia Parata - Inigo MontoyaHekia Parata this morning announced that teachers have been asking for national testing for year 9 and 10 students.

It was reported on Stuff this morning that “Hekia Parata says she has spoken to the profession about a need for a “common assessment picture for years 9 and 10” and, while any model would need to be “fully discussed”, the profession agreed it was needed.”

This came as something of a surprise to many…

You would think that perhaps the union representing high school teachers would at least have been consulted…

“Post-Primary Teachers’ Association president Angela Roberts said she had never made the minister aware that an assessment tool was needed for years 9 and 10” reports Stuff.

Oh.

So not the PPTA, then?

Wait, what about the Secondary Principals’ Association?  I bet they were consulted…

“president Tom Parsons said there was no need for 13 and 14-year-olds to be tested at the moment and, if anything, students were “over-tested”

Hmmm.

So not SPA, either.

Teachers???

Nope, in fact they were all a bit stunned when I asked for feedback this morning.

Principals?

They say they have it covered and assess students plenty, thank you.

So, in summation, this news came as a surprise to teachers, unions, education bloggers, pundits and, well, everyone.  In fact, just who these teachers that have been asking for this testing are, is anybody’s guess.

Over to you, Hekia.

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Sources and further reading

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/10541278/Doubts-over-tests-for-years-9-and-10

http://blog.greens.org.nz/2014/09/25/nationals-beige-vision-education-assess-assess-test/

 

Boards of Trustees unhappy with $359M IES plan

“We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes.”

“We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence.”

“We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.”

 

Below is a message sent home from Fergusson Intermediate to parents, explaining the very real concerns regarding IES (Investing in Educational Success).  It explains the concerns of many, and is well worth reading and sharing with your teachers, BOTs and parents so they, too, can consider the consequences of the proposals being mooted.

 

danger turn back

 

“Important Message from the Board of Trustees

At the last Board meeting the Board discussed and passed the following resolution.

That the Board

  • Endorses the need for further investment in education and in schooling
  • Notes that the Government’s proposed ‘Investing in Educational Success’ initiative has far reaching implications for teachers, schools and schooling
  • Expresses concern the government has not adequately engaged with or consulted Boards of Trustees on the initiative and its implications
  • Commits to engage with staff and the wider school community in a discussion about the initiative, its implications and the development of a whole-of-school position with regards to it.

These concerns arise as the Government forges ahead with its hastily announced initiative to spend $359m on education with ‘Investing in Educational Success’ (IES). None of this $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 improving teacher pupil ratios 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 salaries and allowances for 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, creating a new level of public servants within education.

We are concerned that this money is not being appropriately spent on areas where there is evidence it would have an impact.

As we have seen of this Government, the way these changes are sold to us does not necessarily relate to the actual outcomes.  They would have us believe that appointing Executive Principals to oversee 10 schools (while still doing their job in their own school) and Expert Teachers to go into other schools 2 – 3 days a week (while still doing their job in their own school) will improve student achievement. There is no evidence that this will work and we fail to see how removing a Principal from the running of their own school, or a teacher from the classroom for 2 days every week, will have any benefit for the students of that school and very possibly could be detrimental.

We are concerned about the effect on our students.

It appears that these Principals and Teachers will be appointed based mainly on their National Standards results – the unproven, unreliable and flawed system that this Government has introduced to measure one school against another.

We are concerned about the weight given to these unreliable measures.

Boards of Trustees, and those they represent – our community, have not been consulted, yet the management structure and the way in which staff are employed will change significantly under this initiative. We will lose the ability to staff our school as we believe best meets our needs. We, because of our success, would be penalised by losing our good teachers and management 2 – 3 days a week with no compensation.  We, as the community, are the consumers of this service, by far the biggest sector within education, with the good of our children, and tomorrow’s children, at heart, yet we have had the least input.

We are concerned that there is no ‘community’ voice, and that schools will lose their autonomy and individual character.

In addition to the IES changes the Minister has stated ‘The most successful funding systems narrowed the gap between high-achieving rich kids and under-achieving poor kids by strongly incentivising pupil progress (NZ Herald, March 16, 2014). We are concerned that changes to how schools are funded won’t be around the need of the school or its students but rather the academic results. This would see high decile schools most able to meet achievement targets and therefore meet ‘incentives’ for funding, while lower decile schools with poorer resources, less able to achieve targets, penalised – effectively the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

We are concerned that this competitive model will create greater inequity in education.

As part of the ACT/National Confidence and Supply agreement (the tea cup meeting), the Government has initiated a review of the Education Act next year, already stipulating what will and will not be reviewed. They will not allow ‘matters that are currently the subject of Government initiatives, National Standards or new school types (Charter Schools) to be reviewed. However, it will review governance and management matters with a view to creating ‘increased regulatory flexibility’.

We are concerned that they will only review what they want to change – the Governance and Management model that is the key to Tomorrow’s Schoolsand that this could spell the end of a community voice in education. We are concerned that there is no opportunity to review the most recent and drastic changes to our education system.

We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes. 

We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence. 

We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.

We ask that you make yourself aware of the changes afoot. Think about not only today’s students, but those in 10 and 20 years time – your grandchildren, and their ability to access a quality education. Will the world that they live in give equal education opportunities to those less fortunate? Will we as parents and a community have a say? Will our children be on a treadmill from preschool onwards? Will we be growing great citizens?”

 

Read the rest of the article here.

The new Teachers Council: Just what is EDUCANZ’ remit, exactly?

Concerns are coming from all angles about just what EDUCANZ’ functions will be. It looks to many like it’s more groundwork for kneecapping teachers and laying the groundwork for corporatising the school system.  As ever, all of this is being done on the sly.

The PPTA have raised serious concerns

In introducing the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) to Parliament, the Education Minister indicated a clear intention of pushing it through prior to the election, presumably in the hope that no one will look too closely at the proposed changes.  Submissions close 30 April 2014.

The bill sets out an extensive new role for EDUCANZ which includes:

•    Developing new sets of standards (separate criteria for registration and practising certificates and “standards for ongoing practice”).  (We don’t know what all this means either but suspect it is connected to the five levels of performance pay that the chairman of the EDUCANZ Transition Board, John Morris, has recently written about.)

•    Mandating an audit and moderation process of at least 10% of practising certificates.

•    The Teachers Council Code of Ethics, currently an aspirational document reflecting the professional status of teachers, is to be turned into a more directive “Code of Conduct” while the EDUCANZ council develops its own code. The legislation says teachers will be consulted about this new code but, as we have seen so far, that does not mean any account will be taken of their views.

•    The EDUCANZ council is supposedly more independent because it will be a statutory authority instead of a crown entity but it will be made up entirely of appointments by the minister of the day and it may not have a single practising teacher on it. There are no elected positions and no union positions. The board will be accountable only to the government of the day not to the profession.

•    The registration fees are certain to rise significantly given the range of new tasks for the council. 

PPTA is not opposed to the bill’s changes to the council’s discipline and competence provisions or to the role the council has in ensuring all teachers are “fit to teach”. We are, however, totally opposed to the range of unnecessary functions proposed for it as it can only result in substantial increases in the fees charged to teachers.

 

And big concerns about John Morris

conflict of interestIn light of Mr Morris’s recent proclamations in support of performance pay, PPTA decided to write to the Education Minister.  This is an except of that letter:

Dear Minister

I am writing to express my grave concerns about the appropriateness of John Morris continuing in his role as chair of the Transition Board for the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (“the Transition Board”) in the light of the agenda he has prescribed for it in his publication Teaching Stars – Transforming the Education Profession (“the report”).

On page five of the report, Mr Morris advocates a central role for EDUCANZ in developing and overseeing a complex and highly bureaucratic performance pay system.

Mr Morris makes it clear in the publication that he chairs the Transition Board and fails to distinguish between his official position and personal opinion. He should have been explicit about what the approved goals for EDUCANZ were as distinct from his own personal views because otherwise it looks like he has made an official statement from the Transition Board.

As the Chair of the Transition Board, Mr Morris is required to act consistently with the terms of reference for the Transition Board, which includes a “no surprises” requirement and an obligation that members of the Board act consistently with the objectives and functions of the new body as defined by Cabinet. Mr Morris has failed to meet this requirement and substantially undermined any integrity of the reforms and process to be followed by the Board.

More concerning for me is the contempt that Mr Morris is showing for the 70,000 or so teachers who are going to be expected to fund the operation of his grandiose performance pay scheme. It is unacceptable that before teachers have had an opportunity to comment on the legislation and before the actual board has been formally established, the chairperson of the Transition Board has declared what the role and function of the body is to be. How can teachers have any trust in the process for establishing the new council when the chair of the interim board has revealed an agenda to use the body to introduce performance pay? There has been no consultation or agreement to these changes with the sector.

 

Death by a thousand cuts

It seems to me that the government is taking incremental steps along the road to privatisation of the public education system in New Zealand, with lots of small knives hacking away at the same poor beast until it is dead.

Only when it’s too late will people realise what has been lost.

 

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Sources and further reading

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review/2926-education-amendment-bill-pums

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review/2913-john-morris-educanz-board

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2014/0193/latest/whole.html

http://www.teacherscouncil.co.nz/content/code-ethics-registered-teachers-0 (current code, under the Teachers Council)

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