Tracey Martin MP, Spokesperson for Education – Press Release
New Zealand First wants to protect the title of “teacher” and we will introduce a member’s bill to do so this week.
“The National Government, with support of the ACT Party and Maori Party, continue to amend the Education Act to allow individuals without in depth teacher training to market themselves as ‘teachers’ to parents and students.
“This is an attack on the status of our teachers and is likely to lower the standard of teaching and learning in schools.
“Parents should be 100% confident that anyone using the title of teacher has successfully completed the appropriate qualifications to support their students learning.
“This government has allowed Charter Schools to put untrained and unqualified individuals into classrooms and call themselves teachers. The new Education Amendment Bill will allow well-meaning degree graduates to market themselves as teachers, without in class supervision, after only an eight week Christmas course.
“Under the New Zealand First bill all parents can be assured that if their child has a ‘teacher’ then they are being taught by an educational specialist. By providing this simple method of identification parents truly have choice when it comes to who is leading the learning in their child’s education,” says Mrs Martin.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
Most pertinently, it is important to ask how this impact students.
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.
This Bill replaces the Teachers Council with EDUCANZ, and it is imperative you understand what changes that will usher in.
It is even more important that you send in a submission if you oppose those changes.
Thinking others will deal with it is as good as agreeing to the changes: If you think the changes are wrong, then you really do have to have your say.
Write and register your own submission here (the link is at the bottom of that page).
Do you want teachers’ professional body to be led by government appointees, have your voice silenced, have your professional status undermined, be replaced by cheap untrained labour, have LATs with criminal convictions in the classroom, and then pay for the privilege of all that?
If the answer is NO, then please make a submission.
Don’t be fooled, people.
While they catch our attention by outraging us with sycophantic statements and with pasta-based trivialities,they distract us from the real issue which is that they are systematically undermining our education system at every level.
Get informed and have your say.
No to charters, no to untrained teachers, no to league tables and National Standards, and no to giving our kids 2nd best.
You only have until January 22nd to get it done.
Catherine Isaacs’ latest ridiculous idea is to give official teacher registration to people who have no teaching qualifications at all.
Yes, that’s right – NONE.
No research, training or prior learning in pedagogy of any description.
Nothing about different educational psychology, learning theories, multiple intelligences, behavioural practices, cognitive research, constructivist theory, issues around motivation, assessment of students’ learning, or behaviour and classroom management.
Zip, diddly, squat.
And yet Isaacs is proposing these people (I refuse to call them teachers) are recognised as qualified teachers by the Teachers’ Council.
Does she seriously think that subject knowledge alone is all it takes? Some of the cleverest people I have known cannot explain a darned thing to those at a lower level of understanding, failing to grasp what is needed to break the information down, let alone impart it to a room full of different students, some who are interested, some not, some who are clever, some who are not, some who learn by thinking, some by doing, and, well, you get the idea.
I am not arguing against experts being in classrooms, far from it – but if someone truly wants to teach then they surely should be happy to invest in learning the ins and outs of the whole job, which is a darned sight more than just having a high level of subject knowledge.
Would you be happy for your child to receive a diagnosis or injection from someone with a degree in biology or chemistry but no medical training? It’s madness, pure and simple.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green):
I am delighted to take a call on this issue because the estimates debate is very is important on education and the last year of spending on education reflects some of the most contradictory policy and priority setting that I have seen since I have been a parliamentarian.
It starts right at the top, for example, when the Prime Minister came out and said that he would not be too worried if his children were taught by unqualified teachers. That is right from the very top — a message that is completely at odds with what the Minister of Education has been saying about the importance of professionalism and qualifications, and, in fact, reviewing the Teachers Council registration policy. So what is it that the Government is saying?
Sure, at King’s College where the Prime Minister’s son has been, there is a snowball in hell scenario that they are going to hire unregistered or untrained teachers. It is simply not going to happen. They are going to have small classes and highly qualified staff. Meanwhile we have the Minister constantly arguing for teachers to improve their qualifications and professionalism. So which one is it: untrained and unaccountable, and publicly funded for-profit charter schools, or professionalism; national standards for students aged 6 years old, but none-standards for teachers and selected experimental not-for-profit situations.
Let us talk about charter schools just for a minute, because they are addressed in the estimates. The Government put aside $230,000 for the charter school working party headed by Catherine Isaac — clearly not exactly a neutral figure in the eyes of anyone who has anything to do with education or politics. And what that working party has said is that they will develop options for schools where there will be public money put in, but people like those in Destiny can apply. All kinds of people can apply, they can be as fundamentalist, as ideologically driven as they like, and they will not necessarily have to meet the same standards that are expected in public schools, which, when you think it is public money, is pretty appalling.
The Green Party is not arguing that there should not be choice in education. If people want their children to be taught by fundamentalists of any stripe, or encouraged to believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that climate change is a myth, or that evolution is anti-Christian, for example, then do that, but pay for the privilege. Do not ask us to pay as a country for that privilege. That is what the private education system offers. We are talking about public money going into a weird experiment that has failed all over the world.
So we are very concerned that this Budget reinforces that idea. We are also appalled by the contradictions between statements the Prime Minister has made and the statements the Minister has made on this issue. Let us then move to the other disaster area in education: the class size one, as my colleague Nanaia Mahuta has touched on, was a back-down that reflected a long planned, but badly planned, vision that nobody except Treasury could give any credence to. It just shows you what happens when people do not have a vision in education: it is not about anything except money. Treasury wrote the book and said: “Let’s have a plan to actually make this affordable. Let’s cut back on education. Let’s pretend it’s an investment.” But Treasury could not convince the rest of the country.
It had the Government on its side but nobody else — nobody else. So we saw fantastic unity across a sector that is not always unified and does not always speak with one voice, and the Government was forced to do a back-down. Well, that is an indication not that it had learnt, and not that it believed that the parents were right, but that it had realised it could not sell the policy. This was a cynical and depressing scenario, because we asked the Minister of Education whether she had changed her view after hearing from parents, and she said she had not. She still thought it was a great idea, and it is very, very sad for the parents and children of New Zealand that that was the agenda.
Some information on national standards was put on the website last week, and, again, it is a real mess. It is a real cut-and-paste job. You cannot understand what you are reading, you do not know what it is that you are going to get — sorry, not you, Mr Chair — what the parents will get, and it does not make any sense. The moderation tool that is being developed at great expense — about $5 million has been spent so far on developing the work around national standards, but it is not finished — will not be ready until 2014.
So what are people going to make of that? The Government put up a policy that had no tool for creating any kind of moderation, and although it will not be on offer until 2014, somehow the parents are going to get the benefit of reading the data that are completely different from school to school. That is somehow supposed to be softening the parents up for the standards. Even if you believed that was a good idea, it is a bad way to have gone about it. The Green Party does not think that league tables are a good idea. We think that league tables are for sports teams. League tables are great in the Olympics, but they are not for children. Labels are useful on jam jars, but not on children.
Our fundamental problem with national standards is not the way that they are being delivered but the idea that a narrow mechanism that reduces the New Zealand curriculum — which is upheld around the world as a valuable and broad curriculum — to a narrow set of literacy and numeracy standards is narrowing teachers’ requirements to teach-to-test. No matter what the Government says, there is huge anxiety out there. It would be interesting if people listened to the evidence of people like Professor Martin Thrupp, who went to England and looked at the model over there. Some countries have gone around the track, and they have followed the track of increasingly narrowing and teaching-to-test—Britain is one of them—and others, for example, Finland and some of the Asian countries, have gone the opposite way and have invested in a broad curriculum. The results are very clear.
Britain and the United States are failing the children who are already struggling because of poverty and social context. Initiatives like national standards only create anxiety, and they are driving teachers out of the profession — because people become teachers from the sense of moral mission to give an input into children’s lives. Children need the best people in this country, but the best people will be driven out if we narrow what has been established as being an excellent curriculum and turn it into a bunch of mechanisms. It is lovely to read numbers; they make life really simple, but guess what? Numbers do not reflect the reality of what the complex matter of each child’s individual learning is actually about. I wonder whether the Government actually looks at what learning means instead of what numbers mean when it set up these standards, because the standards are absolutely incapable of delivering rich and contextual — which is what the Minister calls it — information for parents.
It is a sad sight when you see this being justified on a daily basis in this House. It is not what people voted for at all. They voted for the idea of our kids all doing well. What they got was this mechanistic, failed system, which is incoherent and has not even been properly moderated. Quite frankly, that, along with class sizes and charter schools, is an unmitigated disaster. What is also a disaster is the lack of coherence in the Government’s way of relating to the sector. You cannot improve children’s learning unless you have good relationships not only with child and teacher but also with teachers and politicians. I am not saying the teachers always get it right, but what I am saying is that declaring war on the education sector, the academics, and the professionals is not the way in which you make change happen. We all agree that there are kids who need more support in school. And some of us know that is because the goal of the school system should be equity.
The Finns are at the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment table, because the goal of their education system is not achievement; it is equity. Equity comes first, then participation, and then achievement. But why listen to the experts? After all, the Finns have many good models, which we would do better to look at than looking at Britain and the United States, where we have these bizarre failures. Look at New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina has turned into an educational disaster. What happened is that public schooling has collapsed. Because of the disaster they have brought in these experimental charter schools — these for-profits — and as a result you have children falling through the cracks in greater numbers than ever before. That is a tragedy.
We must make sure that we do not let what has been a good education system become a game for Treasury, an experiment for the Government, and a sacrifice of the good things, under the fake mythology that what we need is running schools like a business. What we need is to run education for liberation, for life, and for life-long learning. It is not a mechanistic business. It is a mission. We should take on the Finns’ ideal, which is that not everybody can be a teacher. They invest a huge amount in teacher training. They say that if you want to lift the quality of the education system, you must lift the quality of the people who are allowed to be teachers. So instead of saying the most fabulous job you can have is to be a corporate financial speculator, or some kind of merchant banker, or that being a lawyer or even an MP is the best job in the world — the best job in the world needs to be a teacher.
The following facts are quoted directly from the Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua (formerly the New Zealand Model of Charter School Working Group).
Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on what you read…
Who can be a sponsor?
Sponsors can be from a range of backgrounds including businesses, philanthropists, iwi, community organisations, faith-based groups, private schools, and culture-based educational organisations.
They can be not-for-profit or for-profit.
What sorts of flexibilities do Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua have?
The sponsors of Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua have greater flexibility to make decisions around how they run their school to meet their school-level targets. This enables sponsors to use new and different approaches to teaching and learning, property and school organisation to better meet the needs of their students.
Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua:
Do Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua have greater flexibility than state and state-integrated schools over how they use their funding?
The sponsors of Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua have more flexibility to make decisions about how they use government funding to meet their school-level targets.
Do the Ombudsmen and Official Information Act apply to Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua?
These acts do not apply to Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua as they are not Crown Entities.
– For the full FAQs page, see http://nzmcs.education.govt.nz/FAQs
“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:
International evidence has shown that charter schools (by any name) are ineffective and not good value for money. They have been linked to cherry-picking students, forged results, and closures that left thousands of students without schools.
Before I go on, I have to make it clear that I will be calling charter schools just that – charter schools. I refuse to call them partnership schools and join in the ridiculous re-branding that’s only been done to throw people off the scent that they are still, in fact, well… charter schools.
We are told that NZ charter schools will be allowed to innovate in how they educate our children.
Well that sounds fabulous.
Innovation is good. Flexibility is good.
But this leads me to ask two important questions…
– if innovation is so good, then why not just lighten up on all schools and allow all teachers more opportunity to innovate? Why does that need a new form of school? In fact, isn’t it the government who keeps putting in restrictions and boundaries for its non-charter schools meaning the school day is getting fuller and busier and requires so much more planning that it leaves no time for and the teacher with little energy for this lauded ‘innovation’?
– and what makes the government think that unqualified and unregistered staff (again, I refuse to call them teachers – teachers are professional educators, and you cannot have untrained teachers any more than you can have an untrained and unregistered doctor) – sorry, I digressed, where was I? Yes. Why are unqualified staff more able to innovate than qualified staff? Oh yes, because they are free of heaps of the constraints which that very same government put on the qualified teachers. Hmm… interesting…
So, if government just wants teachers to innovate more, just loosen the straps, lighten the load, and watch them fly. Far easier than creating a whole new school system.
So just what *are* they about?
SAVE MONEY AND SOD THE CONSEQUENCES
Professor Peter O’Connor of the University of Auckland states: “Internationally we know they really don’t make the difference in terms of the student achievement that the minister and the prime minister have talked about, they’re really about private companies taking control of publicly owned assets, it’s as simple as that really.” Read more and see video of interview here.
NZEI President, Ian Leckie, feels that “Allowing unqualified teachers into the school system will put our quality education system at risk and potentially expose New Zealand children to poor practitioners.” and that “Once again the Government’s action in education does not fit with its rhetoric. As with bigger class sizes, unqualified teachers will not lead to raising student achievement. It will have the opposite effect.” Read full article here.
Even journalists have noticed the irony.
A Pundit article by Tim Watkin pointed out that “The big tangle for the government is that just a few months ago it was dying in a ditch over teacher quality. That was SO important, it said, that class sizes had to be sacrificed to ensure better trained teachers. Just weeks later, it’s relaxed about entirely untrained folk teaching our kids. At the same time its spent years fighting for national standards, which compel schools to focus on reading, writing and maths at the expense of art, science and the rest. Now, all of a sudden, breadth and innovation is a good thing and if some schools want to ignore the curriculum altogether and teach lots of meditation or culture…” Read more.
And The Standard noted that government “wants unqualified teachers teaching the country’s most disadvantaged kids in charter schools. This is meant to close the gap with rich kids. Oddly, private schools opt for trained teachers. Also, oddly, it was only 2 months ago that the Nats were saying they wanted all teachers to have post-grad qualifications. Why the back-flip? It’s all about that well known route to economic and social success: driving down teachers’ wages.”
And bloggers are not missing the point either:
Tumeke tells us “You want increased educational achievement? Tackle child poverty, don’t create charter schools using taxpayer money not answerable to the same state school standards!” Read more of the Tumeke blog post.
Local Bodies is scathing: What [government] don’t appear to understand is that it is the quality of the teacher in the classroom that determines the quality of the teaching and learning and raising the status and improving the professional support for teachers would make the most positive difference. Allowing the likes of Brian Tamaki to receive government support to establish his own school, using his own curriculum and employing teachers who will only have to pass police vetting rings alarm bells for me. Read more here
Are you already worried? You should be. I’ll leave you to digest some of this, and I’ll post more soon.
Meanwhile, you might want to join groups like these and make sure you know what’s happening:
Save Our Schools NZ = on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSchoolsNZ
We Don’t Want Your Charter Schools – on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/237491956316493/
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING: