“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.
At the last Board meeting the Board discussed and passed the following resolution.
That the Board
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?”
National Secretary Paul Goulter says the organisation has been concerned for some time about the way in which commissioners and limited statutory managers have been appointed to schools, and how they run their interventions.
He says the interventions often have a crippling effect on school finances and this directly affects the ability of the school to provide quality education for children.
Mr Goulter says there are a number of issues that need addressing, including costs to schools, unclear goals for the intervention and the lack of oversight by the Ministry.
“Under the current system there is no incentive for a commissioner or LSM to finish their task. Perversely, the system incentivises them to draw the process out.”
He says schools have to fund a significant part of the costs of these appointments out of their operational grants. This inevitably affects the quality of education.
“In some cases the costs of commissioners and LSMs would appear to be extremely hard to justify.”
“Many communities simply can’t make up, from sausage sizzles, the many tens of thousands of dollars costs that a commissioner can impose on a school.”
“It would be fair to say the Ministry takes a very hands-off role and, quite frankly, some commissioners appear to have remained in place for questionable lengths of time and behaved in questionable ways.”
At least 18 primary or intermediate schools have had their boards replaced with commissioners, while another 27 have been placed under limited statutory management.