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Investing in Education Success (IES) – the basics

question markThe government’s Investing in Educational Success plans are forging ahead with heated debate from all quarters on the merits and drawbacks of the proposals.

Here I will try to give the basic information on IES, so that you can get an understanding of the proposals and the issues and form your own view on whether IES might be a positive move for schools or not.

 

Background information

In late January, the Prime Minister announced that government would be investing $359m in education.

The announcement said this move was to raise student achievement.

The plans had not been discussed with teachers, unions, parents, or Boards of Trustees beforehand.

After the announcement, a Working Group was formed to give advice on how to progress the Investing in Educational Success initiative.

Hekia Parata has refused to rule out that the plans would be forcible implemented if unions fail to agree the proposals.

Working Group has now reported on Investing in Educational Success. The report is divided into two parts.  Part one contains the Working Group’s advice on the design and implementation of Investing in Educational Success. Part two provides advice and members’ independent background papers.

 

How Has IES Been Received?

The initiative has been received with caution.  Broadly speaking, it has been received less well by the primary school sector than the secondary school sector.

  • The scheme was met with concern from Taranaki principals, the New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) and the New Zealand Principals Foundation (NZPF). Source
  • Bay principals have come out against aspects of a policy aimed at increasing student achievement by raising teacher and principal salaries. Source
  • A proposed new policy aimed at improving student achievement could have the opposite affect, some North Shore schools say. Source
  • Fergusson Intermediate School Board of Trustees outlined their concerns, saying ” the government has not adequately engaged with or consulted Boards of Trustees on the initiative and its implications.”  Source
  • 22 Auckland Boards of Trustees outlines their concerns in a letter to the Minister.  Source
  • Parents do not feel confident that this plan is the best use of the money.  Source 1.  Source 2
  • PPTA’s point of view is that the consultation over IES was comprehensive, robust and genuine. Source
  • NZEI’s point of view is that

 

PPTA (secondary school teachers’ union) information:

  • Here you will find PPTA media releases, presentations and background papers on IES.

 

NZEI (primary school teachers’ union) information:

  • NZEI Video – How the Government Plan to Spend the $359 Million: An introduction to the Government’s new roles initiative (IES) – how it fits within the wider reforms and what it might mean for children, teachers and schools.
  • NZEI Video – IES – Responding to the new roles

 

Political Parties and IES:

The Labour Party declared at this weekend that they would get rid of IES.

The Internet Party have not yet outlined what they would do.

The Green Party does not explicitly mention in it their policy outline, but it seems they would replace it with their Community Hubs proposal.

Mana do not mention it in their education policy document.

National are, of course, in favour of IES, and Hekia Parata refused to rule out imposing it by force.

 

Other information:

A detailed overview of IES, the background to it, the conflicts between secondary and primary sectors, and other issues is discussed in detail here, by Martin Thrupp, Professor of Education at the University of Waikato.

 

Please feel free to add links to additional information, below, in the comments.

 

New Zealanders coming together to put children on the election agenda

tick for kids very large logo w quote

The launch of the Tick for Kids campaign  marks the beginning of a national movement to create the political will to improve the status and wellbeing of Kiwi Kids in the lead up to the election and into the new parliament. UNICEF NZ is pleased to be playing a central role in Tick for Kids and urges all New Zealanders to get involved.

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager and Tick for Kids spokesperson, Deborah Morris-Travers, said, “Political parties are starting to pay attention to the growing public concern about children suffering permanent damage from rheumatic fever, going without nutritious food and blankets on cold nights, and unable to participate in the ordinary activities we expect for Kiwi kids, like school trips.  We all want Kiwi kids to do well.”

In the lead up to the election, Tick for Kids will reinforce the message that our country will only do well when our children do well using the slogan, ‘It takes a child to raise a country!’ 

 Ms Morris Travers added, “Tick for Kids includes UNICEF NZ, Plunket, the Paediatric Society, the Royal NZ College of Public Health Medicine, the National Council of Women, and a range of others concerned that political parties have not paid enough attention to child wellbeing.

“The campaign will be working to engage the public so that all of the parties take meaningful action to address the public policy issues that can help improve life for families and children.  People interested in supporting the campaign can contact any of the partner organisations to offer help with local events, to find out what questions to ask candidates, or to write to MPs.

An advocacy toolkit is available at www.tick4kids.org.nz

“It’s essential that all parties have strong policies for children that give effect to children’s rights, so that the new parliament can make progress on some of the urgent issues facing children and their families. Tick for Kids will remind voters to keep children in mind when they go to vote.

“It’s a truism to say that our future depends on today’s children, but somehow successive governments seem to have forgotten how important our children are.  It’s only a few years until the number of labour market entrants will be on a par with the number of people leaving the labour market to retire* – reinforcing the urgency to ensure that all children are healthy, educated, safe and able to participate.

“UNICEF NZ urges all parties to engage positively with debate about children’s rights and interests in the election campaign and to prepare bold policies designed to make a significant difference for children,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Campaign launch Tuesday 17 June at 11.30am

 

More privatisation of public education.

Education about people, not profits

The National government’s agenda to corporatize and privatise the education system is becoming clearer by the day, Labour says.

“Not content with introducing privately run charter schools, the Government is now considering using Public Private Partnerships for all of the school rebuilding work required in Christchurch,” Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said.

“Clearly there is no limit to the National Party’s profit-making ambitions when it comes to education. They’re even willing to use the Canterbury earthquakes as an excuse to corporatize and privatise schooling.

dollars“PPPs will take the power away from local communities and hand it straight to private and corporate interests. They will see money that should be going into education instead being paid out in shareholder dividends.

“Decisions around school rebuilds should be based on what’s best for education, not what’s going to maximise profits for the private sector,” Chris Hipkins said.

Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Megan Woods is concerned that local schools in Christchurch are being shut out of critical decisions being made around the rebuild.

“Hekia Parata made it very clear in Parliament today that the local Christchurch community will have no right of veto over the use of PPPs for school rebuilds.

“It’s yet another example of people in Christchurch having central government decisions imposed on them without ever having the chance to have a meaningful say.

“Our local communities in Christchurch could end up with new buildings they have little or no control over the use of. That is not right,” Megan Woods said.

Christchurch School Closures and Mergers – the video

Christchurch schools are being done over – even those will GROWING rolls are being closed or merged.

You need to ask yourselves why.

Why close so many schools when 15 schools are scheduled to be built?

And while you ponder what is really going on, watch this:

Thank you to Simon Kenny for sharing this with me.

Kia kaha.

 

 

 

Super Fabulous Stuff About NZ Education – Get Informed

This is a wee collection of the best blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and web sites for those concerned about changes in NZ’s education system.
FACEBOOK PAGES 
Stand Up For Kids
We Don’t Need Your Charter Schools
National Standards Must Go
TWITTER 
Join Twitter here and then follow some of the people below:
Diane Ravitch ‏ @DianeRavitch
Allan Alach ‏ @allanalach
SaveOurSchoolsNZ ‏@ABiteOfTheApple
Teachers@ PPTA ‏ @PPTAWeb
Scoop NZ Parliament ‏ @ScoopParliament
NZEI Te Riu Roa Info ‏ @NZEInfo
WEB PAGES
WAYS YOU CAN SPEAK OUT
Make a submission in response to the Education Amendment Bill
(which will legalise charter schools if passed).
Email your MP .
Email a Newspaper – their contact details are here.

WRITING A SUBMISSION TO PARLIAMENT

You can write your own.

You can use this easy peasy template (takes 1-2 mins max)

You can use mine as a template (1st draft, needs tweaking).

You can use  the NZEI’s draft submission as a template.

MOST IMPORTANTLY

Don’t bury your head in the sand.

If you believe any government proposal or policy is wrong, do something.

Speak out before it is too late.

***************************************************************

No to League Tables

by HINERANGI VAIMOSO, From http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/7445243/No-to-league-tables at 10:54 09/08/2012 (/h5)

Student’s success at school may be at risk under a plan to introduce national standards, educators fear.

Waikato University professor of education Martin Thrupp is backing the message from West Auckland principals to the Government.

“League tables have not been proven to be effective overseas and it’s simply because you’re not comparing apples with apples,” he says.

The plan will be introduced in September to compare primary and intermediate schools without taking into account students’ socio-economic background, social issues and extra-curricular tuition.

The league tables, which would rank schools using national standards results, have met with some strong opposition.

Edmonton Primary School principal John Carrodus says: “This will unravel the very social fabric that makes New Zealand what it is. It will divide our folk and weaken our nationhood.”

The tables will measure a child’s success in reading, writing and mathematics.

But opponents say other subjects will suffer.

“League tables set up a damaging culture within schools because they’re competing to be the best and they start to turn away students who won’t help enhance their position,” Dr Thrupp says.

He says students who are less likely to improve won’t get so much attention.

“If you’re a D achieving student who has the capability of getting to a C, they’ll work with you. If you’re a consistent A student you won’t get too much attention either because you already help them score well.”

Dr Thrupp says there are many other factors to be considered.

“What people don’t think about are the social issues which is a huge factor and that’s something that’s not going to matter on a league table.”

Dr Thrupp helped organise an open letter signed by principals, teachers and academics outlining their views.

Among the signatories are West Auckland Principals Association chairman Kevin Choromanski of Pomaria Primary. “We are concerned that league tables would harm rather than enhance achievement and have the potential to create a culture of competition among schools and cause long-term damage,” he says.

“Data is still very unreliable and has the potential to mislead the public.”

Mr Choromanski says students new to New Zealand may not meet the national standards but their English and social skills increase through attending school. He says those achievements won’t be recognised.

Mr Carrodus compares the changes to rugby league.

“The wealthy teams will buy in the best players and the duds will sit on the benches where they can’t pull the score down,” he says.

“Nobody wants to play for a losing team so they will either go elsewhere, stop playing or stay where they are in a dying school, because they will be lower decile, an ethnic minority, or not have a choice.”

Education Minister Hekia Parata says league tables are a way of using data in a meaningful way and would ensure schools were accountable for children’s learning.

– © Fairfax NZ News

From http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/7445243/No-to-league-tables at 10:54 09/08/2012

Education Policy: Just What are National Up To?

Nats’ education plans make sense after all

By:  – Date published:9:16 am, August 11th, 2012, in The Standard

“The apparent incoherence of National’s position on national standards has been bugging me. They claim that the standards will improve outcomes and are so crucial that schools must be forced to use them whether they want to or not. Yet strangely they aren’t crucial for charter schools at all. These schools are supposed to improve outcomes too but they’re allowed to opt out of standards. Blatantly inconsistent (how do they get away with it?).”

… for the rest of the article (which is short but excellent) click the link below

http://thestandard.org.nz/nats-education-plans-make-sense-after-all/

 

More Spin – Public Achievement Information

 

Today the Ministry of Education announced it will use a website to release national standards and achievement data from primary and secondary schools.

“…a spokeswoman for the minister said a website and a booklet were part of the plan and emphasised schools would not be compared with each other in league table fashion”(1)

Tui Moment

I’m all for parents being well informed about how their children are doing – in fact it’s absolutely necessary that the students, parents and teacher all share information and know how the student is doing, what their next steps need to be, and where strengths and weaknesses lie.

I just really don’t see how the league tables, oops, I mean Public Achievement Information, will do that.

Most parents are already mighty flustered with the education system’s double speak, getting to grips with personal goal setting, inquiry learning, thinking hats, tidy numbers, and lordie knows what other mysteries we throw at them.  It must seem to them that we are conducting some kind of alchemy or learning another language, at times.   And now they are going to be given a set of data that most will have no idea how to interpret, that the media will twist for a headline or two or six, and that leaves them none the wiser.

Great.

It will not – make sure you realise this – NOT – give any parent any information they didn’t already have about their own child/ren.

What it WILL do, however, is allow people to make comparisons between schools.

“The spokeswoman for the minister said achievement data would not be used by the ministry to compare schools.”(2)

But it doesn’t need to.  The media will do it for them.  And the whole saga will add to the damage we already have due to the decile ratings, where people judge a school’s merit by something they have fundamentally misunderstood.  I only hope that at least someone takes into account where the children were when they entered a school, so that people can get an idea of the value added by that school, rather than just a snapshot of where they are now with no context.  That would be something.

My fear is that this is really just another stick with which to beat schools with lower achieving pupils, without any fundamental help for those schools to change things.  Nothing to change poverty, to help with adult literacy or numeracy, nothing to show parents how to learn with and teach their kids, nothing to help boost training for teachers with weak areas.  No, nothing that would help.

I think those who bring in these policies should take note of something my tutor, Bob, told me at teacher training college:

You can weigh the pig as often as you want, but if you don’t adapt what and how you feed it nothing will change.

(1) (2) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10825362

Charter Schools (Partnership Schools) in NZ – Key Quotes

“How can the Government say it wants to improve the quality of teaching while at the same time allowing unqualified teachers into the system?” – Ian Leckie, New Zealand Educational Institute president

“Nobody has ever said what those schools are failing on.” – Lee Walker, principal of Linwood Intermediate School and chairman of the Christchurch Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling

“You wouldn’t let an untrained doctor treat your child, or let anyone design your house.” – Labour’s education spokeswoman, Nanaia Mahuta.

New Zealand Education Institute says allowing unregistered teachers to take classes at charter schools is “a major step backwards for quality education”.

“Under the Government’s cosy arrangement, sponsors can operate multiple schools across New Zealand, skimming educational dollars from taxpayers to pay dividends to their shareholders.” – New Zealand First Party education spokeswoman Tracey Martin

The Green Party said vulnerable pupils need “a strong state education system,” not to be forced into charter schools.

Disadvantaged students who are “unlikely to be able to afford to bus to other schools” will be “stuck with whatever ideology their sponsor [the group that sets up the charter school] wants to run the school by” – Education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty

“It seems crazy that you have to be registered to do the electrical wiring at a charter school, but not to teach the children there. I hate to think how Ministry of Education and Teachers Council officials feel about having to justify this.” – PPTA general secretary Kevin Bunker

One final quote…

“If they don’t succeed, the Government will be just as quick to close them down as we have been to establish them … That is the advantage of partnership schools.”  John Key.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Sources and further reading:

http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1204/EPRG_Charter_Schools_for_New_Zealand_report.pdf

http://www.ppta.org.nz/index.php/-issues-in-education/charter-schools/2119-no-charter-schools-nz

http://www.ppta.org.nz/index.php/-issues-in-education/charter-schools/charter-school-links

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7405273/Charter-schools-will-create-problems-principals

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10824249

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10824053

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7398553/Charter-schools-could-employ-unregistered-teachers

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=10824249

 

 

 

Scoop: Gordon Campbell on Hekia Parata’s big backdown

This article is reproduced from here.

Gordon Campbell on Hekia Parata’s big backdown

June 8th, 2012

The government backdown on class sizes is looking like one of those non-apologies where people say they’re sorry because of how you’ve reacted, rather than being repentant for what they’ve done. Far from it. On RNZ this morning Education Minister Hekia Parata made it clear she still thought her plans to reward teacher performance were more important than class sizes when it came to education outcomes. According to both her and Prime Minister John Key, the backdown was being driven not by any rethink on the wisdom of the proposed changes, but by the level of public/professional opposition to the plans, which were being met with a level of public and professional anxiety that threatened to derail the government’s wider agenda in education. In other words, the public are wrong about the priority they place on class sizes, but were getting so darn emotional about it the government had to pay heed to their concerns.

The basic conflict, in other words, still remains. While the backdown is a welcome victory – for once, common sense has prevailed against a government trying to rush through part of its ideological agenda – there has been no real change in the perception of the issues by the Minister, or by her advisers. The trade-off for the increase in class sizes was supposed to be measures to improve teacher performance – but the only measures that had been announced to date affected teacher entry qualification issues (which wouldn’t kick in for several years) and measures to introduce performance pay for teachers, which is a highly expensive and ideologically-driven idea that originated in Treasury, not within the education system. At the chalk face, teachers in schools right now would be getting no tangible help to improve their performance – quite the contrary. Some would be losing their jobs, while others would be facing larger class sizes.

To cap it off, the urgency behind the issue was because one in five children were allegedly failing in the New Zealand education system. “You can’t walk away from the fact” Key told RNZ this morning. Well you can, actually. That figure, which dates from an OECD report in the mid 2000s is (a) out of date and (b) highly misleading, in that it refers to the number of children who do not stay in schooling right through to NCEA Level Two, and not all of those children can be counted as “failures.” The figure has also declined subsequently.

Moreover, the false sense of failure and crisis being talked up by Parata and Key is also contradicted by the spectacularly high rating ( number 6 in the entire OECD) that the New Zealand educational system currently enjoys. The more accurate current figure for those who aren’t engaging and succeeding in education, as NZEI president Ian Leckie told RNZ this morning, is probably closer to 5-7%. In other words, the real figure is closer to one in 20, rather than one in five.

Count on it. The performance pay bogey will be back, in one guise or other. Basically, the education system is being squeezed to find cost savings to fundTreasury’s ideas about how to improve teacher performance – which, in Treasury’s view, would be enhanced by promoting competition and individual payment rewards, within what has always been a highly collegial profession. (Moreover, since the best teachers can cope with anything thrown at them, who needed to care about class sizes? Only losers wouldn’t be able to cope, and they didn’t belong in the teaching profession. QED.) As Leckie told RNZ this morning, performance pay systems are (a) very expensive (b) have failed overseas where they have already been tried and (c) will fail here as well. Not that Treasury, as Mike Moore long ago pointed out, has ever lost enthusiasm for a theory that works in theory, and fails only in practice.

What caused Parata to back down? The conference phone call yesterday between Parata, Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee was where the decision was made. The rationale can only be speculative – but my hunch is that the growing untenability of the government’s position was becoming clear days beforehand. A turning point would have been the 2005 interview that surfaced online in which Prime Minister John Key indicated that he’d chosen to put his own children into private schooling, because he believed the class sizes there would be smaller.

The hypocrisy of that stance – while publicly claiming that class size was a minor matter – was breath-taking. Luckily, Key was then quickly out of the country, but he would have been returning to face a mounting crisis in which his personal integrity (the jewel in the government’s crown) would have been under scrutiny. At crunch, Parata had to have this sorted before Key came back from overseas. Thus, she had only this week to damp down the protests or give up the policy. She failed to stem the tide. The rest is now history.

Still, as least we now know what Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was really on about earlier in the week – with her weird headline-grabbing musings about how she and her colleagues had been thinking about ways to curtail (short of sterilisation) the rights to have children of those previously convicted of crimes against children. It was a diversion, pure and simple. (There is already legislation, and agencies devoted to the care of children at risk and – note – Bennett wasn’t talking about giving them any more resources.) In reality, Bennett was trying to distract the media from focussing on her colleague Parata’s folly, and she succeeded brilliantly in doing so. The media took the bait. Never underestimate the readiness of the middle class commentariat to debate and pronounce on the breeding habits of the underclass.

Finally, the backdown by Parata stands in interesting contrast to the outcome on national standards – which were also widely opposed by education professionals and by many, many school boards up and down the country. Parata is alleged to be widely competent (though as she told RNZ she didn’t consult on this issue) and is being touted by some as a potential future leader of the National Party. Yet when it comes down to getting runs on the board…Anne Tolley, Parata’s widely derided predecessor as Minister got her national standards policy through. Parata failed to do likewise.

http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2012/06/08/gordon-campbell-on-hekia-paratas-big-backdown/

 

Government Back Down on Class Size Changes

This afternoon the Minister of Education announced that the changes to teacher:student staffing ratios will not go ahead.

Congratulations to everyone who talked, wrote, emailed, phoned, and discussed this issue, keeping the issue alive leading to the Government scrapping this ill-thought-out policy – great job.This back-down came after enormous pressure from the education sector and the public in general, working together with one very loud voice saying enough is enough.  It’s great to see what can be achieved when people are fighting for the same cause.

However, please don’t feel the battle is over.  This was just one skirmish of many that is needed in order to protect New Zealand’s public education from constant undermining by Government.  We still have to ask questions about:
  • standardised testing (National Standards) – why are we adopting them, how do they work, do they help raise achievement, are they reliable indicators of learning?
  • proposals for performance pay – how is this going to raise the standard of teaching and learning?  Will it lead to the danger of  teachers merely ‘teaching to the test’?
  • the introduction of charter schools – why are we closing schools then paying more out to have another privately run school open in its place?  What evidence is there that Charter Schools lead to any improvements, and why not use the money to invest in measures to help the school currently there?
  • the publication of primary school league tables – what are they for, who do they help, how are they calculated?
and more.
You’ve been amazing in getting one policy stopped.  Now please take the time to find out about and challenge more.
Save Our Schools
References:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7059177/Backlash-forces-Government-class-size-U-turn

http://www.3news.co.nz/Hekia-Parata-announces-backdown/tabid/1607/articleID/257000/Default.aspx

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10811411

http://www.nzei.org.nz/

A Growing Tide of Disquiet

Kiwis are not the protesting type.  They like to make the best of things and get on with it rather than create a fuss.  Sure there are the few who will camp up and challenge things or whip up a wee placard and have a march, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

So it is all the more poignant that the tide of disquiet about the government’s education policy changes is actually getting bigger and bigger each day and doesn’t look like ebbing away any time soon.

My view is that the class size issue merely acted as a touch-paper, focusing attention on not just that but also on other changes being made in education and caused a BOOM of realisation that some not so savoury things are taking place.  Lots of not so savoury things, in fact.

And whilst I have seen some people defending the government’s stance, it really truly has been the exception, with hundreds of people challenging what is happening and only a small handful  saying National have got things right.  Hmmm, interesting, given that National were voted in by so many people not so long ago…

Could it be that even those that voted for this government are up in arms, too?

What can you do?  Go to the page below and sign the petition, or get John Key’s email address and fire off a message to him, or join a social media group to keep up with what is happening.

But whatever you choose to do, and whatever your standpoint, do something – you can keep that tide of disquiet growing.

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/have-a-voice-protest-the-changes/

 

Have a Voice – Protest the Changes

Muttering, yelling, champing at the bit, and screaming at the TV are all well and good, but if you want to have a voice that matters, do something:

Sign the petition to tell John Key that what is being done to our education system is NOT okay

http://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-john-key-stop-pretending-that-your-decisions-in-education-are-going-to-help-our-kids

 

Email John Key at Parliament

john.key@parliament.govt.nz

 

Join a social media group to hear what’s going on:

https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSchoolsNZ

https://www.facebook.com/groups/300794400012511/

Share information with your friends, via Facebook, Twitter, conversations, or whatever.

Make sure people hear what’s going on.

Education leadership group unites over flawed Budget class size decision

PRESS RELEASE:

Education leadership unites on flawed Budget class sizes

Tuesday, 5 June 2012, 4:42 pm
Press Release: Joint Press Release

5 June 2012

The sector meeting acknowledged the current economic climate and agreed that the Government’s Budget announcements, including increases in class size, are educationally flawed, contrary to the best interests of students and are collectively rejected by teachers, principals and Boards of Trustees.

We urge the Government to reverse the staffing announcements made in the Budget, including increases in class size, and enter into immediate discussions with the joint sector leadership group on how to sustain and continually improve the quality of teaching and the achievement of students.

We ask the Government to listen to the combined voice of the school sector, parent and public opinion and scrap this policy before damage is done to our children’s education.

The group has asked for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Education and has called for a halt on any implementation of the Budget decision.

• NZEI Te Riu Roa
• NZAIMS – NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling
• NZSTA – NZ School Trustees Association
• PPTA – Post Primary Teachers Association
• NZPF – New Zealand Principals’ Federation
• SPANZ – Secondary Principals’ Association of NZ
• PPTA Secondary Principals Council

Pressure Mounts On Politicians

I’m not sure the government realised how incensed people would be about planned changes to school funding in this last budget.  I am guessing government thought there would be a little ooohing and ahhhing and muttering, then it would all die down.  In reality,  it seems the cuts have been the final straw for many, and pressure is mounting for them to reverse them.

Why?  Well, the proposals mean that:

  • About 1100 teaching positions will be lost at the start of the next school year.
  • Class sizes will increase.
  • It’s probable that some technology classes will cease altogether.

The mainstream media are keeping up the pressure too, with a number of articles in The NZ Herald, on the news and so on questioning the logic of the proposals.  These interviews on Breakfast this morning with NZEI president and two head teachers are worth watching and explain the overall issues well.

Why are people angry?  Because it seems that our education system – one that is well respected throughout the world – is being repeatedly undermined whilst at the same time plans to privatise parts of the public education system are being shoe horned in.

And class sizes is not the only issue facing our schools right now.  At the same time as this is happening, we have the government proposing to or in the process of :

  • closing high schools and replacing then with privately-run charter schools
  • closing special schools that cater for those in most need
  • bailing out private schools with $3 million of taxpayer money
  • bringing in standardised tests despite much of the world giving up on them as a failed exercise
  • making the curriculum more and more prescriptive in public schools whilst at the same time allowing charter (and private) schools to set their own curricula
  • make those who have done a three year Bachelor of Education degree do a further postgraduate course in order to become qualified (whilst at the same time allowing a 6-week postgraduate teacher-training course for those with a degree including a degree that has nothing to do with education) – source
  • bring in performance pay for teachers without any explanation for how it will be judged or managed.
  • and a whole lot more.

It’s just bizarre!  It’s often wildly contradictory.  And it’s not even based on sound research.

So why all these changes?  Who benefits from these changes?  Students?  Parents?  Teachers?  Support staff?

What do you think?

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