Teaching — A political football?By Peter Corlett Investing in Educational Success
In one of a series of NZ-wide meetings, more than 100 Kapiti Coast teachers gathered after school at Kapiti Primary in Paraparaumu to discuss the proposed educational changes in the governments ‘Investing in Educational Success’ (IES) policy.
While I try to be politically neutral as much as possible with the parents of the children in my class — I am struggling to do so now!
It is great to read the latest news from educationalists that internationally NZ has a top-of-the-line education system. Parents will find this reassuring — to know that their children, and nephews and nieces, are getting a great education in a well performing, highly respected schools system.
An international summit on the teaching profession opened in Wellington recently with high praise for New Zealand.Nearly 400 education ministers and teacher representatives from around the world attended the event.
Praise for our education system
The head of the OECD’s international testing programme, Andreas Schleicher, told delegates New Zealand has one of the most impressive education systems in the world.
The United States secretary for education, Arne Duncan, told Radio Zealand News he is looking forward to learning more about this country’s education system, particularly its early childhood education arrangements.
The Government hosted the summit for Education International, the global federation of teacher unions. And Education Minister Hekia Parata says the summit will have highlighted the strengths in New Zealand’s education system.
Ms Parata says some of the nations which attending have already expressed interest in New Zealand’s education system. She says the summit will also be an opportunity for New Zealand to learn from other countries…
While I am reassured that being a NZ teacher is acknowledged as a worthwhile and productive career, and teachers are doing well, the problem is that this points out the incongruity with what parents have previously been told.
As noted in the Dominion: ‘The Government attack on public education is co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained over several fronts.’
Getting all children achieving: are the new initiatives the answer?
Earlier statements by our Minister of Education have stated that schools are failing children because all children don’t achieve the “mythical” National Standards and teachers are not doing well enough. She claims we have been slipping for more than the last decade. Minister Hekia Parata says New Zealand’s achievement ranking internationally has been gradually declining since the early 2000s.”
This was after all, the rationalisation given for pouring money into private schools and setting up charter schools.
I was at an NZEI meeting yesterday with over 100 local teachers where we looked at the latest announced $359 million “initiatives” of new teacher roles and designations such as Change principles, Expert teachers, and Lead teachers.
It appears that the appointments to these rolls will likely be based on the school’s National Standards data. It was announced that staff from “successful” schools will be released 2 days a week from their schools or classes to work with other schools, and an appointed principal will be released 2 days a week to oversee 9 other schools.
The need for consultation over “Investing in Educational Success”
Part of the problem is that these changes are being imposed without adequate consultation. There are a lack of the details and a lack of understanding around the implications such as how parents will feel, and how children will be affected, if their child’s teacher disappears 2 days every week.
Or what will be the consequence for parents if the principal no longer focuses on their school but on a large number of other schools. Not only have teachers been cut out of proper consultation on these changes, but also BOTs who represent your interests as parents.
The announced “Investing in Educational Success” (IES) policy has been controversial with teachers and principals. A survey of NZEI members found many believe such a large amount of new money could be better spent on initiatives that directly help students, particularly the 1 in 4 Kiwi children growing up in poverty who face additional challenges to their\ learning.
At our Kapiti meeting votes were 99% in favour of NZEI pursuing a set of principles relating to the IES initiative that include:
- Ensuring there is sound evidence that the new roles will actually directly benefit children’s learning.
- The need for a transparent and collaborative process with the teaching profession in the design of any new initiative.
- Rejecting invalid National Standards data as the basis for determining eligibility or criteria for any new roles or resourcing.
- Any new roles must be implemented through the collective agreement process and be subject to support by members.
What is assured is that the issues around current changes won’t go away.
My hope, and the hope of the 100 or so colleagues I met with, is that Education won’t continue to be used as a political football and that the changes won’t have the worrying adverse effects on your child and thechildren in our schools throughout New Zealand that I fear they will.