A board and a cluster: share this inspiring account with your board of trustees

Boards of trustees have been starved of information about IES; one of the main reasons for this is because the government and STA know that many boards of trustees will be taken aback by the disruptive implications for schools. Also that IES will have an effect on the areas of responsibility of boards.

A good number of boards coming out against IES could be decisive.

One point that needs to be made clear is that there is no valid research evidence of an idea like this, in a country anything like New Zealand, to be found. This is a madcap idea with no research backing. Sometimes IES defenders claim there is valid research evidence saying collaboration in education is important, and it is – but IES is not collaboration, it is nothing like it. The word ‘collaboration’ has been taken over by the supporters of IES and the meaning stripped from it.

And a final point before I hand the posting over to the inspired efforts of schools in the Upper Hutt area: after the many discussions and many points-of-view put forward – most groups boil their objection down to IES money being much better spent on children. While this might not seem a particularly analytical argument, it is really quite satisfactory. It is saying we have looked at IES and we don’t like what we see; we think the money could be far better spent directly on children.

As an argument that’s good enough for me.

– – – – – – –

Hi Kelvin

My school is part of a geographical cluster of 18 – 3 secondary schools and the remainder Primary (not a ‘community of schools’). Our Principals meet as a cluster, as do our Board Chairs (sounds like collaboration, doesn’t it?). We have met with Paul Goulter and Lorraine Kerr, and are meeting with Graeme Stoop next week, to try and put together our own picture of the IES, changes to school funding, and the working party looking at the Education Act review. We are deeply concerned and though I know a couple of our schools will fall by the wayside, as they did with the National Standards battle, we are fairly united in our will to educate our wider community on these issues. Even our secondary schools seem to have concerns over the changes afoot, and feel they have been poorly informed by the PPTA.

A few of us have already written to our parent communities (example attached). As for the Boards Cluster our next step is likely to be to our local paper with a joint position statement.

As with the class size debacle, we are hoping that should the general public get behind this there is a greater chance that the Minister will back off. The trick is informing them to the level that they will grasp the complexities and be able to see through the smoke screen of propaganda. And, we need to move fast to make this an election hot potato and not give them the opportunity to later say they have a mandate for these changes purely because they are re-elected.

We are hoping too that as Boards we are seen to have no hidden agenda in our protests, as the unions and professional bodies will be accused of, giving greater credibility to our argument. Our agenda is seeking what is best for the students in our schools today and in the future. NZSTA has been of no support with Lorraine Kerr saying one thing to our face and, once back at the office, doing something completely different.

Thank you for your constant stream of information, arguments and links to others, that has helped to galvanise our position.

Kind regards,

Wendy Eyles

Chairperson, Board of Trustees

Fergusson Intermediate School

Upper Hutt

– – – – – – –

Fergusson Intermediate School

Hikurangi Street,

Trentham 5018

email admin@fergusson.school.nz

Phone 04-528 7023

www.fergusson.school.nz

Important Message from the Board of Trustees

At the last Board meeting the Board discussed and passed the following resolution.

That the Board

  • Endorses the need for further investment in education and in schooling
  • Notes that the Government’s proposed ‘Investing in Educational Success’ initiative has far reaching implications for teachers, schools and schooling
  • Expresses concern the government has not adequately engaged with or consulted Boards of Trustees on the initiative and its implications
  • Commits to engage with staff and the wider school community in a discussion about the initiative, its implications and the development of a whole-of-school position with regards to it.

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 Schools, and 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?

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5 Responses to A board and a cluster: share this inspiring account with your board of trustees

  1. Craig Sharp says:

    Hi,

    Have you seen the proposed settlement of Support staff agreement?
    Interesting addition:
    “Introduction of a new separate Executive Management Group from date the collective is signed. Limited to senior roles as determined by the board, the criteria being that the role is part of the Senior Management Team and have whole of school responsibilities and employed requires specialist skills. The role will have a minimum salary entry point of $75,000”.
    Sound like a non Principal to run the school to you?
    Slipped through without comment so far …or am I being more paranoid/cynical that usual?

    • Kelvin says:

      Well done Craig – this is ominous and will have to explored. This is the extra level of bureaucracy we have talked about.

      • Kelvin says:

        We can relax, all innocent all above board. I have made enquiries

        The support staff agreement covers a huge range of roles in schools and in large secondary schools includes bursars, executive officers, finance officers etc with obviously large responsibilities over large budgets. This new management group ‘band’has been on the cards since well before the IES and was negotiated into the agreement so that there is a genuine pathway within the agreement for this ‘professional group in large schools – partly because this kind of career pathway for big jobs in the admin side of large schools is long overdue.

  2. Dave Hughes says:

    The purpose of the education changes hinges around getting students up to or passed the national Standard for their age group. We know who they are and where they are – thats where the investment should go. If they want expert teachers to go in to those schools, advertise them and make them full time positions so schools who lose teachers to this scheme can employ full time replacements, the same for the principals-full time not part time.That is a career path opportunity for those teachers. That would be targeted funding at the tail of underachievers which would work.

  3. Emma says:

    Thank you for this, very timely for me – our board discussed the same thing last night briefly but weren’t really sure where to go next! This gives as a great template.

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