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About this government and education…

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.

Teachers Propping Up the NZ School System With Their Own Money

SOSNZ surveyed New Zealand teachers about the amount of their own money they spend on school supplies, and the results are astonishing.

In reply to the question “Have you ever spent your own money buying supplies for your own class?”, 100% of respondents said yes.

A huge 86% of teachers said they have spent their own money on supplies every year they have worked, an additional 12% said they have spent their own money most years, and 2% said they had done it a few years. Nobody said they had never done so.

In short, NZ teachers are propping up the school system with their own money.

How much are teachers spending?

The survey asked “How much do you estimate you have spent on essential work supplies over your entire teaching career?”, and a stunning 32% of teachers responded that they SOSNZ Teacher Spend Survey, May 2018have spent over five thousand dollars of their own money so far. $5000! That’s a significant sum, especially when we consider the large proportion of teachers that don’t stay in the job for more than 5 years.

A total of 69% said in their teaching careers they have so far spent over $1000, 19% said it was $501-$1000, 10% said $101-$500, and one lucky respondent said they had spent ‘only’ $1-$100. All respondents had spent something.

When asked what they had spent on supplies this year alone (bearing in mind we have only had around 14 school weeks so far), 65% of teachers have spent between $100 and $500. A lucky 4% had spent nothing, and 24% up to $100. But a worrying 4% have spent $501-$1000 and an alarming 2% have spent over a thousand dollars.

What are teachers buying?

Respondents were asked to “Tick all of the things you have spent your own money purchasing for any school while you were employed there”. According to their responses:

93% bought small in-class storage (e.g. tubs, buckets, containers)

91% bought display materials (e.g. borders, background materials, pegs, clips, etc)

88% bought baking and cooking supplies for student use

87% bought pens and pencils for students, and 85% bought them for their own use

Over 80% bought highlighters/vivids/board pens for their own use, posters for display, and maths supplies such as games, dice, cubes, flashcards, clocks, measuring jugs etc.

74% had bought reading books for their classroom, and 74% had bought art supplies. Purchases for topic studies also came in at 74%.

Almost three quarters of teachers are buying modelling books for group and whole-class activities, and over half of teachers have bought students workbooks.

In addition to own-class supplies, 45% of teachers responded that they had spent their own money on supplies for the wider school – e.g. for the library, office, copier room or resource room.

This is a breakdown of all responses:

Pens/pencils for students’ use

85%

Pens/pencils for your own use

87%

Rulers/glue sticks for students’ use

64%

Rulers/glue sticks for your own use

68%

Highlighters/vivids for students’ use

65%

Highlighters/vivids/board pens for own use

84%

Work books for students’ use

56%

Teacher modelling books

72%

Display materials (e.g. borders, background materials, pegs, clips, etc)

91%

Posters for display

84%

Art supplies (e.g. felt tips, crayons, jovis, pastels, paints, paint pots, brushes, glue, craft materials etc )

74%

Small in-class storage (e.g. tubs, buckets, containers)

93%

Large in-class or office storage (e.g. filing systems, cupboards, shelves, drawers)

53%

Soft furnishings (e.g. cushions, rugs, curtains etc)

66%

Seating  (e.g. seating pads, chairs, sofas, beanbags etc)

46%

Maths supplies (e.g. games, dice, cubes, flashcards, clocks, measuring jugs etc)

81%

Topic-specific supplies 

74%

Cookery/Baking supplies 

88%

Te Reo supplies

54%

Reading books (fiction, non-fiction, reference)

 72%

Furniture & Furnishings

The above figures show that teachers are even buying furniture for their classrooms.

Just over 50% said they had bought large in-class or work office storage such as filing systems, cupboards, shelves, and drawers. 66% had also bought soft furnishings such as cushions, rugs and curtains, and almost 50% said they had bought seating such as seating pads, chairs, sofas, beanbags for their classrooms.

It’s alarming that so many teachers are having to buy their own essential work-space furniture. Does Ministry account for teachers’ administrative needs when new classrooms are designed? Are insufficient operational budgets being propped up by teachers’ own funds? What’s going on?

Do Teachers Mind?

The final question in this short survey asked teachers to rate on a sliding scale how they felt about paying for these supplies. The scale was:

(0) Don’t mind at all  ——————————————————— It infuriates me (100)

The mean average response was 61 points showing a large level of dissatisfaction with this situation overall, but there was quite a range in the responses: Ten percent said they don’t mind at all (responding 0 or 1), whilst 18% were infuriated (responding 90-100). Of the 18% that were most infuriated, 8% responded 100, the maximum option.

Impact on New Teachers

The SOSNZ survey didn’t ask how long the respondents had been in the profession, but it would be interesting to look into whether there is a link between yearly spend and length of service. My suspicion is that new teachers (that are paid the least) are spending most. If that’s the case, it could be a contributing factor in overall job dissatisfaction. This is an important consideration given most teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and may be worth further and deeper investigation.

Imagine…

Teachers are clearly spending significant amounts of money propping up our education system in order to give students what they need in class and to have adequate supplies for themselves, and have been doing so for quite some time.  Some overseas teachers responded to this phenomena by removing from their classrooms everything they had paid for, with startling results. I wonder, New Zealand, what would our classrooms look like if we did the same?

Fact Checker: David Seymour and “School Choice”

The ACT Party’s ideological bent for privatisation is clear when David Seymour talks about the government’s decision to “take school choice away” from kids if his charter school model is abolished.

But the New Zealand system already has a remarkable variety of options available without the need to privatise the provision of public education.

US commentator, Marc Tucker, had this to say on “school choice” in an article that appeared in the Washington Post, in October 2012:

“The country with the most aggressive school choice system in the world is probably New Zealand”

And that was before we introduced the charter school ideology!

Mr Seymour might also want to check the views of parents a bit more widely than asking the National Party pollster, David Farrar, to run a poll for him.

Regular surveys of New Zealand parents carried out by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), have consistently found that around 90% of both primary school and secondary school parents state that their child is attending the school of their choice.

And these numbers have hardly changed over the 25 years or so that NZCER has run these surveys.

Most New Zealanders understand that the phrase “School Choice” was used by Milton Friedman to advocate for the privatised, market model of education provision that he believed should replace the institution of public education.

Fortunately, the vast majority of New Zealand families do not support either the ACT Party or its ideology.

~ Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

Further reading:

Parent and whānau perspectives on their child’s schooling: Findings from the NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools 2016, by Linda Bonne and Eliza Stevens

 

Charter secondary schools under-perform system-level benchmarks

The 2016 School Leavers statistics paint a grim picture for charter school supporters. Figures just released by the Ministry of Education show that only 59.7% of charter school leavers left with NCEA L2 or above in 2016.

This compares to a system-wide figure of 80.3% across all schools within the system in 2016. Looking more closely at specific groups, the system-level result for Decile 3 schools was 74.3% and for Maori students, across all deciles, it was 66.5%.

The School Leavers metric is used as the performance standard in the charter school contracts. Former Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, made her intentions clear when she said:

“There is to be no compromise on the system level benchmarks”.   Source: Hand-written comment from the Minister on a Ministry of Education paper, dated 24 May 2013

The decile 3 system-level result for 2012 had been used as the baseline for the charter schools in their first year, i.e. 66.9% for the 2014 year. The contracts then set out a series of performance standards for subsequent years, culminating in the target of 85% of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 or above by 2017.

[There were no contract performance standards set above NCEA Level 2. The contracts for primary and middle schools are based on performance standards using National Standards for years 1 to 8].

But worryingly, even this poor performance masks a weak set of results overall. There were 124 School Leavers from charter schools in 2016 and this is the breakdown of the highest qualification they left school with:

Below Level 1 – 25 students, 20.2%

Level 1 – 25 students, 20.2%

Level 2 – 45 students, 36.3%

Level 3 – 14 students, 11.3%

University Entrance (UE) – 15 students, 12.1%

Given the hype around charter schools, it is disappointing to see that 20.2% of students left school in 2016 without even attaining NCEA Level 1.

And at the top end, numbers above Level 2 fall away quite markedly.

The proportion of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 3 or above, for example, was 23.4% compared to 53.9% for the system as a whole. UE attainment is low, with a mere 15 students, or only 12.1% of School Leavers, attaining UE, compared to a system-wide figure of 40.7%.

As we await this year’s Ministry of Education evaluation of the charter schools, we are minded to note Hekia’s comment from 2013. Clearly, the New Zealand model of charter school is currently not achieving at anywhere near the system-level benchmarks that have been set for it.

SOSNZ

Further Resources:

SOSNZ’s 2017 Charter School Secondary School Achievement 2014-2016 report can be viewed here.

SOSNZ’s 2017 Charter School Rolls (2016) Report can be viewed here.

Nikki Kaye and David Seymour make misleading statements about charter schools

Nikki Kaye has joined her colleague David Seymour in making misleading statements about charter schools.

In a stuff.co.nz story, written by Jo Moir and published on Tuesday 7 November, she is quoted as saying that the six new charter schools were “publicly notified in February”, meaning the wheels had been in motion for many months for those schools.

pants on fireThis is incorrect.

The public announcement of the two Fourth Round schools, due to open in February 2018, was made on Tuesday 11 July this year.

The public announcement of the four Fifth Round schools, due to open in February 2019, was made on Thursday 7 September, only 16 days before the election.

No documentation relating to either the Fourth or Fifth Round schools has yet been released.  This is in contrast to the Third Round schools, when documentation such as the applications, evaluations and contracts was released publicly on the day of the announcement.

Further scrutiny of the minutes of the Partnership Schools Authorisation Board confirm that at the meeting held on 11 April 2017, the Board agreed to delegate to the Chair and Deputy Chair the authority to make the final decisions on the outstanding due diligence matters for the Fourth Round applications.  The Ministry of Education was to then confirm the communications plan ahead of the Round 4 contracts being signed.  So, that implies that as at April, the final decisions had not even been made and the contracts had not yet been signed.  But without any documentation, who knows?

As for the Fifth Round applications, they were even further behind.  The 11 April meeting agreed the following dates for Round 5:

  • 24 May: Board meets to discuss STEM / TEI applications
  • 8 June: Board meets to review balance of applications
  • 9 June: interviews
  • 15 – 16 June: Interviews
  • 22 June: Final recommendations meeting.

According to that timetable, the Fifth Round recommendations were not even going to be finalised until late June!

So, Nikki, where does the “publicly notified in February” comment come from?

As for David Seymour, he was up to his usual mischief over the weekend, when he made this statement in his press release:

“The Sponsors of these schools are passionate educators who were required to demonstrate community support for their schools before their applications were accepted.”

Not so, as least as far as the Wairakei community is concerned, where one of the Fourth Round schools is due to open next year.

Two recent articles in stuff.co.nz have covered the anger and frustration that Wairakei residents have expressed about the proposed new school.  In the second article, dated only 2 days before the election, Taupō Mayor David Trewavas called for a halt to plans for a partnership school at Wairakei Village, saying the complete lack of consultation is “unacceptable”.

But the article also quoted David Seymour, who responded to a query from local MP Louise Upston, saying that while community consultation was not required to establish the school it was an “essential component” of a school’s preparation for opening.

So, Mr Seymour, why do you now say that demonstrating community support for the school was required before the application was accepted?

The appalling lack of transparency has been an unfortunate feature of the New Zealand charter school experiment from the outset.

Save Our Schools NZ calls on the new government to instruct the Ministry of Education to release all documentation relating to the Fourth and Fifth Round applications with immediate effect.

Only then can the false and misleading statements of opposition politicians be called out as they should be.

–  Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

Charters come at expense of children with high needs, say NZEI

NZEI Te Riu Roa is demanding the National/Act Government say how much it’s spending on four new charter schools, adding its money that should have gone on education of children with additional learning needs.

“It’s immoral to spend huge amounts of public money on schools that aren’t even needed, when children with additional needs are being denied the support they need to learn,” NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said.

This week it was revealed that three and four year olds were waiting up to a year for an initial appointment with Ministry of Education specialists when they were identified with special needs.

“These children are being robbed of their right to an education, at the very time when it can have the greatest impact.

“The money being spent on charter schools would change the lives of thousands of children missing out on an education because this Government won’t properly fund learning support.

“The charter school experiment has not worked to raise achievement, according to recent analysis of school leaver results.

“It’s time to put an end to political interference in education, and focus on what works for all our children. That’s a strong public education system designed to ensure every child, not just some, achieve their full potential.”

NZ Political Parties’ Education Policies 2017

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s election year, and that means it’s time to look at the various political parties’ education policies.

So, because we are helpful souls here at SOSNZ, here’s a handy alphabetical list of NZ political parties with links to their education policies online (or, where no education policy is yet published, a link to their general policy page):

ACT Party Education Policy

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.

Conservative Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies here.

Green Party Education Policy

Internet Party Education Policy

Labour Party Education Policy

Mana Party Education Policy

Maori Party Education Policy – not on party web page. Other policies are here.

National Party Education Policy

New Zealand First Education Policy

The Opportunities Party (TOP) Education Policy

United Future Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.

vote for education

 

 

What National Has Done To Education in 2016 (so far)

id-100435177It’s been a year of non-stop changes and proposals. Some call it a war on free public schooling in NZ – indeed it feels like a continuous battery of skirmishes with little to no break between attacks.

If the Minister is purposefully undertaking psychological warfare to break teachers down, then she’s doing it well, because we’re worn out; We just want to teach.

So far this year, NZ public education has faced:

  • COOLs – out of nowhere and with no consultation at all, Hekia Parata announces plans for online charter schools for 5-18 year olds.
  • Global Funding – a raft of proposals to bulk fund schools, including giving schools a set payment to fund teachers with the provision for schools to spend that money any way they want (including not spending it on teachers).  This means government would cease to guarantee to maintain teacher/students ratios at current levels.
  • Special Educational Needs – the Minister has proposed significant changes, but appears to have largely ignored the information collected at select committee. It was confirmed that there will be no additional money for SEN, despite a real issue with under-funding. There are proposals to divert current funding towards early childhood education and reduce funding for 5-18 year olds. Proposal to stop ORS funding at age 18 rather than 21. (And Hekia lied in the house saying the proposals have support where none exists.)
  • Operations budget frozen – schools’ operations funding is frozen despite a hike in power and water bills, meaning a net loss of funds to schools. This means less money for things such as libraries, equipment, specialist classes, and teacher aides.
  • Teacher Education Refresher course – ill-thought-out and inappropriate targeting of teachers for retraining costing $4k (and no student loans available for the course) causes huge amounts of stress for teachers and put pressure on schools as it gets harder to find relievers.
  • Charter Schools – two more, despite the current ones missing targets set by Ministry of Education
  • National Standards – the ‘National Standards: School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2014‘ report was published and reported that “evidence strongly suggests that [Overall Teacher judgements (OTJs)] lack dependability, which is problematic as OTJs are a central element of the National Standards system”.  Despite this, National Standards are still being pushed and continue to be used by government as if they are reliable.
  • Pushing PaCT – schools being pressured to adopt the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards. This includes workshops that give school staff very biased  and one-sided information. There are still concerns PaCT is being pushed in order to later use the data for performance pay, despite research and experiences showing  that teacher performance pay does not improve student outcomes and in some cases lowers it.
  • Education funding diverted to private sector – proposal to give a larger portion of the education budget to charter schools and private schools, leaving less for public schools
  • Untrained Staff unsupervised in classes – Minister proposed a law change to allow untrained ‘teachers’ to work unsupervised in public school classrooms (this while at the same time forcing trained teachers to spend $4k to upskill if they are deemed to have not done enough classroom teaching over the past few years).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things – there have been so many – so please comment below if there’s anything that needs to be added.

Meanwhile, look after yourselves – there’s still one whole term to go and, as we know, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.

~ Dianne

PS, more added below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Moving sands when measuring charter school effectiveness

The Education Ministry reported that some of last year’s new charter schools are not doing so well, but says there are good reasons for this.

The reasons given include students arriving at school far behind age-appropriate levels, student transience, the high rate of referrals from Child Youth and Family and the Police and referrals of difficult students from other schools.

Indeed, those are valid reasons for any school struggling to help students.

What I would like the Education Minister and the Undersecretary for Education to explain is how these factors are considered sound reasons for charter schools to struggle to help students and yet are considered excuses for public schools.

~ Dianne

Sources and further reading:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312221/’difficult’-students-going-to-charter-schools

 

 

Campaign launched to reverse school funding freeze

nzei logoNZEI will tomorrow launch a nationwide campaign to reverse the Government’s freeze on school operations funding in order to secure sustainable resourcing for school support staff.

In its May Budget, the National Government snuck through a freeze to the school operations grant that pays for support staff wages and all other essential school running costs.

“This funding freeze is unprecedented. No Government as far back as 1999 has ever frozen school funding before, so this will put already strained school budgets under more pressure,” said NZEI President Louise Green.

“…this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth”

Research done by Infometrics shows this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth. It’s an even bigger cut when you take inflation and other costs into account.

“This cut will force schools to make trade-offs between support staff and other running costs. More pressure will go on parents to pay larger donations to cover the funding shortfall.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.”

“While the Government has put in a small amount of additional funding for the most disadvantaged children they have done this by cutting the per-student ops grant funding across all schools, creating winners and losers.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.

“Support staff like administration staff, teacher aides, technicians and others are most at risk of having their hours cut due to the funding freeze.

“Support staff already suffer from poor pay and precarious hours of employment despite their crucial role supporting children’s learning. The funding freeze puts them under greater stress and threat.

“We need better operational funding for schools that allows them to meet children’s educational needs. We also want support staff to be paid centrally like teachers are, so they are not competing with other costs and resourcing needs,” said Green.

The support staff campaign is part of the wider Better Funding Better Learning campaign being run with the PPTA to respond to the government’s proposal to introduce global funding, which could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

“This funding freeze highlights the perils of bulk funding. We need to reject bulk funding for support staff and ensure it is not extended to include teaching staff,” said Ms Green.

Support staff will be starting their campaign by launching an online petition on Monday calling for parents and communities to message the Education Minister to reverse the funding freeze.

~ENDS

#betterfunding

Villa Education Charter Schools fail to achieve targets in 2015

The two charter schools operated by Villa Education Trust have achieved only 3 of their 12 student achievement targets for the 2015 year, according to analysis by Save Our Schools NZ.

According to the 2015 annual reports to the public released by the two schools, South Auckland Middle School achieved 2 of their 6 targets and Middle School West Auckland achieved only 1 of their 6 targets.

Detailed results are set out below.

2015 Contract Targets and Student Achievement Outcomes:

South Auckland Middle School

Reading Writing Maths
Target % Outcome % Target %  Outcome % Target % Outcome %
Year 7 77.0 73.3 70.0 63.3 70.0 76.7
Year 8 80.0 70.0 72.0 76.7 72.0 70.0

Middle School West Auckland

Reading Writing Maths
Target % Outcome % Target %  Outcome % Target % Outcome %
Year 7 60.1 38.0 50.7 31.0 52.1 59.0
Year 8 61.6 52.0 51.9 48.0 50.8 44.0

Held to Account for Performance?

Charter schools are supposedly going to be held to account for their performance against clearly specified performance standards set out in their contracts, including student achievement and student engagement.

In its first year of operation, South Auckland Middle School failed to meet its student engagement performance standard when it missed the required standard for stand downs, suspensions and exclusions.

But the Minister of Education still approved the release of the 1% performance retention funding retained under the contract, even though the contract wording required the school to reach all of its performance standards before such a payment could be made.

The clear underperformance in 2015 of both schools in the most important contract area, which is student achievement, should make the Minister’s decision this year clear cut.

But as charter schools are ultimately a political initiative anything can happen!

ENDS

Cartoon by Emmerson – twitter.com/rodemmerson

Teacher Education Refresh – Education Council is asking for feedback

we are listeningHurrah! SOSNZ’s investigation into the Teacher Education Refresh (TER) programme has got the attention of the Education Council, and Lesley Hoskin (Deputy Chief Executive of the Education Council) has assured me that they are looking into things urgently.

When I spoke with her,  Lesley was very clear that concerns are being taken seriously and that EC is now aware that there are big issues. She said that EC will start by looking into requirements for itinerant teachers and relievers to undertake the TER programme, and will widen the net to look at the criteria in its entirety so that is can be applied fairly, reasonably and with flexibility.

It’s great that they listened, and great that PPTA and NZEI backed up the concerns we raised, but in order for improvements to be made, Education Council need your feedback.

That’s right, it’s over to you.

SEND FEEDBACK

If you have done the TER, please send your comments to  feedback@educationcouncil.org.nz  or use the online form here EC needs to know the positives and negatives, in particular regarding the criteria for having to do the course.

If you have not done the course but have concerns, you can also send feedback. Please make it as specific as possible so that the issues are clear. Email:  feedback@educationcouncil.org.nz or use the online form.

I am, of course, happy to receive your feedback re the TER and pass it on to EC for you (anonymously if needs be) but in order to get specific situations reassessed EC will need your full name and registration number, so please bear that in mind.

GETTING AN ASSESSMENT

If you want to have your own situation assessed to see whether you have to do the TER course or not, also email feedback@educationcouncil.org.nz or use the online form.

When asking for an assessment, make sure you give them your full name and teacher registration number so they can access your files and get all of your details. This is the only way to get an accurate answer.

If you want to email Lesley Hoskin direct, she is happy for you to do that. You can contact her at: lesley.hoskin@educationcouncil.org,nz

Lesley informs the that Education Council typically responds to email within 48 hours. If you don’t get a reply in that time frame, check your email spam box, and if there’s nothing hiding in there please call the Education Council and follow it up.

EFFECTING CHANGE

We’ve now got the Education Council in agreement that the course requirements are not as they should be; to get things changed, you have to let those with the power to change things know what your concerns are.

You know the drill by now: email feedback@educationcouncil.org.nz or use the online form

Over to you.

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

 

 

 

More untrained teachers in the classroom

Last week, out of nowhere, government added a proposal to the Education Act update that would allow Teach First teacher trainees to be in the classroom unsupervised.

Yes, that’s right – a trainee with no qualifications in teaching would be allowed to be in charge of the whole class unsupervised.

You have to wonder why that would be proposed? What’s the justification?

Fishy goings on?

Before getting to the education issues, I first have to ask, how is it acceptable to add in such an important change to the proposed Education Act amendments without informing people so we have a chance to submit? That’s not democracy; it’s underhand, disingenuous and it’s railroading.

You have  to wonder what the process was that led to it being put in at the very last minute, too. The cynic in me can’t help but wonder whether it was purposefully held back just long enough to leave no time for people to put up submissions about the plan. If that’s not the reason, then why the last-minute appearance? Something’s fishy, and this time it’s not MPI’s catch quotas.

Lowering the bar

As with any proposals, we should ask who this proposal benefits and who it impacts.

We have a glut of well-trained, qualified primary trained teachers as it is, so where’s the need to lower the bar this way? What’s the imperative to have trainees in front of classrooms with no supervision?

Better Training?

I’d love to hear how unsupervised time in the classroom is better for the trainee than supervised training and co-teaching, where a teacher with years of experience observes and gives feedback and where the student can see the teacher at work and reflect on what works well and why.

Good self reflection on one’s pedagogical practice is something that develops over time, guided initially by mentors and becoming deeper and more meaningful as you grow as a teacher. It’s not something you can just do. After all, to begin with, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So how is being unsupervised/unmentored /unsupported a good move?

Better Trainees?

Teach First often cites that its trainee teachers have high degrees or Masters qualifications. But being a good teacher isn’t just about knowing your subject, and even more so at primary level where your subject will be only a tiny part of what you teach anyway.

Just as important as book smarts is knowing how to engage students, how to create a productive environment, how to plan effectively, how to adapt planning on the fly when you have to, how to deal with upsets, what to do to support those who struggle or who find a task easy, how to spot those who are not pushing themselves and what to do to help them, how to deal with parents’ concerns, what to do about the wriggler or the weeper or the kind that has a tendency to disrupt things. How to teach kids to analyse their own work and improve it, what to do about the kids who never push themselves and the ones who are too hard on themselves. How to help the kid that has started stealing things. How to stay calm and deal with  vomit, wees and a’code brown’so that the child involved isn’t stigmatised. What to do when a lunch box is empty or insufficient. Or when a child is taking other kids’ food. How to stick to timings, how to teach students to care for their environment and pack up the classroom equipment properly and efficiently. How to encourage and support reluctant readers. And what to do when the fire alarm goes or when a kid suddenly runs out of your classroom and keeps running.

While you’re learning those things, you need a mentor on hand.

Guinea pigs

Most pertinently, it is important to ask how this impact students.

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Image courtesy of joannawnuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Government keeps telling us that to give students the best change of success teachers must be excellently trained. How is this excellence?

I’ve seen some good and great initial teacher trainees but also some absolute shockers, including ones with lots of classroom experience, so it concerns me that this proposal allows not just seasoned trainees but also brand new trainees to go into classrooms unsupervised. How someone with no teaching experience or training (practical or theoretical) can be expected to do a good job of teaching without guidance is mind-boggling.

As a teacher it concerns me: As a parent I am fuming.

My child is not a guinea pig. My child deserves a qualified teacher. And so does yours.

Survey reveals crisis in beginning teacher workforce – NZEI

A survey of newly-graduated primary teachers has revealed massive underemployment and many beginning teachers in a state of stress, despair and debt.

NZEI’s New Educators Network spokesperson, Stephanie Lambourn, said there was a shortage of primary school jobs available and it was particularly difficult for new graduates, as not all roles were suitable for beginning teachers.

The Ministry of Education’s own figures show that just 15 percent of beginning teachers are getting fulltime, permanent teaching jobs.

Ms Lamborn feels fortunate to have secured a permanent role at Lower Hutt’s Avalon Intermediate, but many of her peers have spent a year or more unable to secure anything other than short-term contracts or a few relieving days.

“It’s incredibly stressful to have that sort of job insecurity,” she said.

“Even if a teacher gets a contract for a term or two to cover maternity leave or roll expansion, they are constantly having to look ahead and apply for new roles. They aren’t able to focus on giving their best to their class and are frequently missing out on the induction and mentoring they are supposed to receive as beginning teachers.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa surveyed 374 teachers who had graduated within the past five years or so.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed reported that the requirement to reapply for positions had had a negative impact on their teaching.

give me a jobOf those surveyed, 79 percent were provisionally certificated. Graduates have five years to gain full certification as teachers and this requires them to receive induction and mentoring from a senior colleague. When teachers are unable to get fulltime work, it becomes extremely difficult to meet the requirements of certification.

NZEI TE Riu Roa President Louise Green said the Ministry of Education needed to make workforce planning a priority and ensure that beginning teachers were getting the support they needed. Schools also needed to ensure that they weren’t unlawfully offering or extending fixed term positions to “keep their options open” when they should be offering permanent positions.

“It’s a devastating waste of their time, passion and money to earn their teaching qualification but not be able to get reliable work at the end of it – not to mention the wasted cost to taxpayers for their training,” said Ms Green.

“Many of our baby boomer teachers will be retiring in the next few years, and what will happen then? These beginning teachers can’t wait around forever and if they’re not getting the experience, induction and mentoring they need, who will fill the gap?”

– NZEI

Wide-ranging education changes shouldn’t be rushed, says NZEI

nzei logoThe announcement of wide-ranging changes via a new education Bill signals a potential shift in the structure of schooling. 

The Education Legislation Bill 2015 includes amendments to eight Acts covering issues from charter schools to student identification numbers and school opening hours.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green said the changes could have wider effects than just administration and governance.

“Some of the changes indicate a big shift in the structure of schooling, such as enabling principals to ‘manage’ more than one school. Principals are leaders of teaching professionals, not a CEO across a chain of stores.

“Likewise, allowing tertiary institutions to sponsor charter schools is an unnecessary extension of the model, and enabling the State Services Commissioner to approve changes to terms and conditions of employment raises a raft of questions and concerns.

“We really need a national conversation about some of these larger changes, rather than rushing them through as part of a grab bag of tweaks and updates.”

– NZEI

 

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