4.2 Navigating change in education: sector change

4.2.1 Education (Update) Amendment Bill

The Education (Update) Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament in May this year, introducing numerous changes to the education system with the concerns of educators largely ignored.

NZEI Te Riu Roa’s submission on the Bill included opposing the introduction of cohort entry, as there was no evidence this would improve the school transition experience for children and opposing the introduction of Communities of Online Learning, as evidence suggested that online schooling did not serve students well. There were also concerns around Communities of Learning administrative structures, including how difficult it was to leave a CoL.

One of our major concerns was the National Education Learning Priorities (NELP), which allow politicians to define success for children and enshrine these definitions in law.

NZEI's position is that schools should be “child ready”, rather than children “school ready”. We support the right of every child to enrol at school on their fifth birthday or the date before they are six that best suits their needs.

NZEI submission on the Education (Update) Amendment Bill

4.2.2 Education Council

The Education Council received a $21 million funding boost in 2016—part of a string of significant strategic decisions the Government had made about the future of the Council.

The Minister of Education said at the time that the Council’s predecessor, the Teachers’ Council, had had an $8.5m shortfall each year.

This coincided with another proposal to require future teachers to gain a postgraduate qualification to raise the status of the profession.

A statement from the Council said the required skills for teaching were “more consistent” with postgraduate-level study.

The proposed increase in registration fees also drew criticism and again raised the debate around democratisation of the Council.

The Government abolished the right of teachers to elect their own representatives to the Council in 2015. In 2018-19 teachers could face a significant higher registration fee for an organisation that they do not have an elected voice on.

4.2.3 Communities of Learning

Since the introduction of the Government’s Investing in Educational Success policy in January 2014, there have been a number of roles available to principals and teachers to support learning within schools and across a Community of Learning.

The variation in 2015 to the primary principals and teachers’ collective agreements incorporating Community of Learning (CoL) roles agreed an updating process aimed at making CoLs “more effective, bespoke, agile and innovative in supporting children learning success.”

This process started in December 2016.

An NZEI Te Riu Roa survey with 93 principals—from experienced to less experienced—revealed it was too early in CoL formation to determine the impact on student learning.

It also revealed that 38 principals had not confirmed achievement challenges, and 45 principals said that they had experienced pressure to change the achievement challenges their community wanted to set. Principals also identified a lack of flexibility around shared roles.

A report by the NZ Council of Educational Research about the Emergent Stage of the CoLs in 2016 showed that only 33 percent of principals thought that their achievement challenges were achievable in the timeframe, and 56 percent thought these challenges were realistic given the capability of their CoL.

NZEI Te Riu Roa’s Member Support Centre reported that most of the queries around CoLs were about how to backfill positions and the achievement challenges.

NZEI Te Riu Roa continues with its policy that CoLs must be demand-led, child-centred, voluntary and purpose-driven.

4.2.4 National Standards

Much of NZEI Te Riu Roa’s criticism of National Standards was borne out by an independent survey in 2016.

The NZ Council of Educational Research survey of principals and teachers showed less than 16 percent think National Standards have had a positive impact on student achievement.

Opinions of National Standards had dropped further over the past three years. Less than a quarter said the standards provided a good picture of student learning—down from 37 percent in 2013—and only 20 percent said the standards helped motivate students to take on new challenges.

NZEI Te Riu Roa also continued to advise members to not engage with the PaCT tool because of its key role in legitimising National Standards and the Government's data-based accountability agenda.

A new government website was introduced to promote an online judgement process for the National Standards system, but it is unlikely to get much interest from teachers.

Also in the year, a PISA report on children in the OECD found that New Zealand children's scores in mathematics and reading had dropped since the standards had been introduced.

What principals and teachers are saying about National Standards

less than
%

said that National Standards have had a positive impact on student achievement

less than
%

said that the standards provided a good picture of student learning

only
%

say the standards motivate students to take on new challenges

4.2.5 New minister

In April, Hekia Parata stood down after six years as Education Minister. She was replaced by Nikki Kaye.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart congratulated Nikki Kaye on her promotion to Minister of Education and said she was looking forward to working with the new minister on getting the best possible educational outcomes for New Zealand’s children.

4.2.6 Better public performance targets a “disaster”

In May 2017, the Government introduced new Better Public Performance targets for achievement in mathematics and writing. NZEI Te Riu Roa called these a disaster.

The Government's new targets included having 80% of Year 8 students achieving at or above the National Standard in mathematics and writing by 2021.

NZEI Te Riu Roa said at the time that the narrowing of the curriculum was not the answer to under-achievement.

“If the Government is serious about helping every child reach their potential through education, forcing teachers to focus on writing and maths is not the way to do it.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart

4.2.7 Te Whāriki

The world renowned Te Whāriki early childhood curriculum was updated this year with the focus for NZEI Te Riu Roa members on ensuring educators get the professional development they need to use to unpack the new document and use it to help children learn.

The Ministry allocated $4 million for the professional development to allow educators the resources and time to understand the new document. There were questions remaining about the reduction down to 20 learning outcomes in the new document and what that meant for the internationally regarded document and New Zealand’s place as leaders of ECE pedagogy.

“Te Whāriki is a globally regarded Early Childhood Education curriculum which is hugely important to educators in New Zealand and the world over.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa executive member and kindergarten head teacher Virginia Oakly

“Te Whāriki is a globally regarded Early Childhood Education curriculum which is hugely important to educators in New Zealand and the world over.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa executive member and kindergarten head teacher Virginia Oakly

4.2.8 Charter schools

In 2016, Ministry of Education annual report data showed charter schools’ National Standards results were in decline.

NCEA results for charter schools had also been overstated because the charter schools had been using a different methodology from other schools.

NZEI Te Riu Roa said charter schools were also not helping Māori and Pasifika children and called for all political parties to meet with education experts and agree on what's needed to improve education for all Māori and Pasifika children.

“More than 85 percent of Māori tamariki go to mainstream public schools. It's a cop out for the Government to present charter schools as a solution for Māori, while failing to adequately resource the schools that the vast majority of Māori attend.”

Laures Park, NZEI Te Riu Roa Matua Takawaenga