Questions frequently asked about the Investing in Educational Success policy

Why Investing in Educational Success?

As a label, after a careful consideration of the evidence, it was decided that it was better than investing in failure.

But what if you are?

All the better we have a label declaring we aren’t.

What is proposed under Investing in Educational Success?

The government is working with the sector to introduce three new roles within schools.

Why these three new roles?

We had to be seen to be doing something, and anything is better than actually supporting teachers in their work with individual children. If parents want this for their children, they should send them to private schools.

What evidence is there that the new roles within schools will work?

We cite evidence from McKinsey & Company which is much more reliable than other sources of evidence because it is non-refereed (thus free from academic hocus-pocus) and because multi-nationals have no axe to grind.

Has the idea been tried elsewhere?

Mainly on the pages of florid reports from McKinsey & Company.

What academics are cited as supporting the cluster system?

Michael Fullan who is associated with McKinsey & Company.

How has the executive principal idea worked out?

The ministry of education went on a secret study tour to England last year to examine the executive principal system and found it to be in trouble – there is deep unhappiness with the system; being widely described as distracting, disruptive, and engendering bitterness within and between schools. (More on this in another posting.)

You mean a large number of ministry staff went all the way to England just for that?

Yes – pathetic isn’t it? Here we have in New Zealand a terrific group of school educators and teachers, a culture of innovation and high professionalism – and here we have a group of non-educators going on junkets around the world grubbing out very ordinary ideas about education formalised by McKinsey & Company into something put forward as innovative and flash.

What evidence is there that the new roles work better than providing direct support to children?

The trouble with providing direct support to children is that it doesn’t show the government bossing teachers and leaves the dangerous impression that teachers are possessed of a modicum of good sense.

Will the increased salaries of the new roles mean teachers not in those roles will be at a disadvantage in gaining salary increases?

If teachers want increased salaries they should gain one of those roles.

Is the payment of the new roles performance pay?

Of course not – perish the thought. It is conformity pay – demonstrate a slavish obedience to government and private company curriculum directives and bob’s your uncle.

Why did you say that so adamantly?

We did so on the advice of the PPTA who want to convince its members that performance pay is not performance pay, and itself to salve its conscience.

But PPTA is saying it is not performance pay because teachers will not be being paid on results?

It depends what you mean by results – the performance to be delivered to Wellington, and paid for in return, are the values of managerialism, in particular, that someone knows and that someone is a National government minister of education.

Hekia Parata is mooted to be ‘stepping down’ at the end of the year (job done as it were), does that mean that Nikki Kaye will be the one who ‘knows’?

Yes – that’s how it works; it’s quite magical isn’t it? blondes, brunettes, it’s all the same.

Won’t the new roles harm secondary as they will for primary?

The new roles and nearly all government policy are about bringing primary schools to heel. No, it won’t do much harm to secondary schools because they are large in size, subject- and departmentally-based, much less co-operative in nature, not governed by national standards, and are narrow in focus anyway – the teaching though is very intensive (secondary teachers, when the arcane nature of assessment procedures is taken into account, work extremely hard); primary schools are small, philosophically- and co-operatively based and have a more complex teaching task.

So will the new roles be good for secondary schools?

No, they will be harmful, but no-where as much as they will be for primary schools. They will be a distraction, a disruption, and a terrible waste of money compared with some possible other uses. (In the endgame, secondary schools will be major victims too – see below.)

What possible other uses could the money be used for?

Secondary schools need to be to have appointed more teachers and support teachers to counsel and guide significant groups of children. If this happened the corrupt practices prevalent in internal assessments, and the unethical ones directing children to certain NCEA standards, would be considerably reduced. (In some ways, reasonably easy NCEA standards in the early levels are quite a good thing but the process needs to be open, honest, and valid.) Assessment procedures and practices are so corrupt and unethical that a ‘truth and reconciliation with authenticity’ inquiry is needed to clear the air. If secondary schools were given more teachers and support teachers at the lower NCEA levels the dumbing rush to the bottom could be corrected. But no – the PPTA goes on this madcap IES journey, betraying NZEI in the process. Far be it for me, though to tell PPTA how to suck eggs.

A recent NZQA review of internally marked work found a quarter to be incorrect – is that so bad?

It is bad but not so bad, what is bad is the practice of secondary schools, responding to government pressure, relentlessly over-coaching in children in internal assessments. It is the ultimate in no children left behind. And from there, those children, amongst others just to be safe, are funnelled into NCEA standards that are vocationally limiting.

Why is so much being spent on IES?

Don’t be fooled: we’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul (and by the way, those apparently generous payments for expert and lead teacher aren’t as generous as they appear – read the fine print).

Will national standards play a role in IES?

In primary schools IES is about national standards and their role in fixing the values of managerialism on the system.

Will IES improve, in general, the performance of Maori and Pasifika children?

Of course not, national standards have not helped them, so an intensification of national standards will not help them even more. These children need individual help from teachers and support teachers; the money that could have increased the number of teachers and support teachers to do this has been directed to IES.

What is the next big issue the government has to face in the implementation of the IES?

At the request of the PPTA (which is always focused on the fundamentals) coming up with alternative names to expert and lead teachers. So far the best suggestions have been ‘messiah’ and ‘apostle’, though ‘big Moses and little Moses’ are still under active consideration.

Is Investing in Educational Success compulsory?

Obviously not because it is investing in failure.

No, but seriously, is it compulsory for schools to be in the IES plan?

In theory only. When and if the plan is implemented, it won’t be principals who will be making the decision about joining or not joining, it will be boards of trustees. A good number of boards might hold out initially but in the longer term, and that will be a very short longer term, all boards of trustees will be unable to resist the pressure to join. Any principal who tried to stand out, even with the support of his or her board, will have made a brave ethical decision but a disastrous vocational one.

IES has been called the most important education decision since the Education Act of 1977 – is that correct?

That must have been when legal highs were legal.

When does the bill go before the select committee?

It doesn’t, and not before parliament either.

You are telling me, that an implementation in education, one that has been called the most important since the Education Act of 1977, is having no parliamentary scrutiny at all?

Yes – no scrutiny of any kind. Such are the workings of contemporary democracy in New Zealand. That is because the lightest of scrutiny would cause the IES façade to collapse. The IES is bound to fail in the short long run, but will, by then, have served its purpose of putting primary schools under tight control to allow further policies of the same ilk, but considerably more radical in nature, to proceed unmolested.

Are you suggesting that the IES is really about something more than it is claimed to be?

All policies brought in over the last 25 years have been more than they were claimed to be – by guileful intention (National); by incredible naivety (Labour).

All right then: what is intended by National – what is the hidden agenda?

Clusters are about establishing another layer of bureaucratic control. The aim of clusters is to remove school education from beyond parliamentary control and parental influence, and certainly beyond school influence. Also privatisation.

What do you mean, ‘Also privatisation’?

New Zealand private companies will be asked to deliver the curriculum under direction of the government; these companies in turn will have links with multi-nationals like McKinsey & Company – in this way schools will removed from influence over the curriculum.

What is the endgame for IES?

The endgame is to have a super executive principal appointed by a super executive dominated by government appointments, and not necessarily from school education (including the executive principal). The utter failure of the clusters will, like national standards, never be fully known – it will be submerged by a propaganda campaign of Orwellian proportions.

What will happen to boards of trustees?

They will remain but with considerably reduced powers.

What is the endgame beyond that?

A different form of democracy: authoritarian democracy.

Are primary teachers and principals united in opposition to Investing in Success?

As denizens of an outback pub running out of beer.


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3 Responses to Questions frequently asked about the Investing in Educational Success policy

  1. John Carrodus says:

    Once again a bulls eye Kelvin. However one point, not so much a Moses and Big Moses, but rather a Peter and Judas maybe? And of course, sex always sells- even Fukushima seafood!

  2. Mac says:

    The IES is so off target and a real pity for education in NZ.

  3. Anne Elliot says:

    An excellent overview of yet another “We know best” policy which is not given the needed by scrutiny by voters – because a succinct summary has not to my knowledge been clearly presented to voters, so we have some idea about where this model/idea is from, how it has worked elsewhere and some hard facts about and evidence as to why the Ministry of Education thinks this is a good idea.

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