Communities of Schools: an email dialogue between a principal and NZEI (Part 2)

The principal’s initial email was to Graham Jones; then Stephanie Mills came into the picture: a senior NZEI staff member – experienced, high-minded, and intelligent – who can be observed doing a good job in relation to a near indefensible situation. The principal proceeds to cogently expose the NZEI policy on Communities of Schools as muddleheaded and seriously wrong.

The principal’s frustration is given further expression by a Save Our School’s posting to be found at the end of the email dialogue.

From a principal to NZEI about CoS 


To: Graham Jones <>

Good afternoon, Graham

I see that the PPTA Collective Agreement has been signed including any variations agreed during the term of the last collective. That would mean to me the structure of CoS with the way roles are allocated. As far as that goes there is still a mismatch between what was agreed by the PPTA and that agreed by the NZEI in the CoL model. It’s still the elephant in the room, or am I completely misreading it? Still two models?


Graham Jones <>

Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Hi – apologies but been away – you are right – it’s still the elephant but there is work going on to get clarity – see for an example, no answer as yet but all parties want to get clarity.

Graham Jones

Principals Support Officer

NZEI Te Riu Roa

Te Wai Pounamu

027 295 1104

03 357 3617


Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 3:38 PM

To: Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>, Stephanie Mills <>, Graham Jones <>

Dear Louise, Paul, Stephanie, Graham

I have not been particularly happy with the union over its handling of the whole debacle around CoS/CoL.

Some months ago I pointed out the problems around the differences in the PPTA contract and that of the NZEI about roles and now we have the memo from NZSTA suggesting they had a ‘light bulb’ moment and have shared it with the two unions. Nothing from the NZEI. Where is the information?


Stephanie Mills <>

Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 6:43 PM

Cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <Paul.Goulter@nzei_org_nz>

Thanks for sending through the STA memo, not a particularly accurate version of events but yes, NZEI is committed to one model of Community and we’re working this through with the PPTA and MoE. For obvious reasons we refrain from mass emails about the discussions when things are at a relatively sensitive point and prefer to communicate with members when the outcome of those discussions is clear.

Regards Steph


Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 7:34 AM

To: Stephanie Mills <>

Cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>

Dear all

With respect, this response is rubbish. If the STA memo is ‘not a particularly accurate version of events’ why has the NZEI not sent out an accurate version or at the very least challenged STA. To say that the NZEI refrains from mass emails until the outcome of discussions is clear, is treating your membership as simpletons. Keep them in the dark until everything is a fait accompli. Where is the honesty? Where is the transparency? It reminds me of how the government is trying to control the outcome of the review of the Education Act through the discussion document. What is probably more important is, that which has been left out.


Stephanie Mills <>

Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 7:54 AM

Cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <Paul.Goulter@nzei.org_nz>

The issue is about ensuring our secondary colleagues are on board with one model and a harmonisation of the agreements so it is a judgement call about whether it is helpful or respectful of them or the process to ‘go public’ when there is no agreement yet.



Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 1:30 PM

To: Stephanie Mills <>

Cc: Graham Jones <Graham.Jones@nzei.org_nz>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <PauI.GouIter@nzei.org_nz>


What issue? either the PPTA changes their contract or we change ours. If ours changes it will have to go back to the members. I would really appreciate a ‘straight’ answer. It is not helpful or respectful to the members when we are fobbed off with answers like those we have been given.


Stephanie Mills <> Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 1:39 PM Cc: <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>

Our view is that there needs to be one model with some differences for those teaching years 9-13 and those teaching years 0-8 based on what each teachers union has negotiated. The PPTA has its own views. I don’t intend to try to represent them.




Sun, Nov 15, 2015 at 9:51 AM

To: Stephanie Mills <>

Cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>


Your latest response says it all; ‘our view is that there needs to be one model with some differences for those teaching years 9-13 and those teaching years 0-8 based on what each teachers union has negotiated.’ That does not make one model. I can see that I have been wasting my time corresponding with the NZEI, but will share these emails with my colleagues in the hope they can make more sense of them than I can.


Stephanie Mills <>

Sun, Nov 15, 2015 at 11:45 AM

To: cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>

This is not a simple situation so I cannot give you a simple or final answer at this point because it is not something NZEI alone has the power to determine.

As you know the issue is that the MoE negotiated the secondary variation prior to the joint initiative and the primary variations. Thus this issue of how to create one model is one of the government’s making. However, all parties are currently talking this through in good faith to reach a solution.

As you know, both NZEI and PPTA are currently in area school teacher negotiations with the MOE and are working details of the variations through. The PPTA understandably wants to represent its members’ views, and we want to ensure our members’ views are advanced. Whatever STA has reported last week; the facts are that these discussions are ongoing and not completed and so we, in good faith, are not commenting on the views of other parties while this continues to be the situation. This is an entirely normal feature of most negotiations.

To clarify my point about ‘one model’. By this we mean that a CoL supersedes a CoS in its scope (includes ECE, explicitly includes roles with a focus on cultural competency and transition as well as collaborative practice, and so on) and flexibility (in terms of meeting the needs in the primary schooling context) – and is reviewable at the end of 2016. The nature of members’ demand for flexibility in the primary aspects of the roles thus must include accepting that somewhat different elements might better suit their secondary colleagues working alongside them in the same CoL. In the same way, equitable access by ECE teachers to CoLs may require slightly different elements in their roles/CEAS to ‘fit’ the ECE context.

I hope this useful.

Regards Stephanie


Stephanie Mills <>

Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM

To: cc: Graham Jones <>, Louise Green <>, Paul Goulter <>

Dear Stephanie

As a democratic organization, NZEI has a responsibility to reflect the wishes of its members and to keep them fully informed. Negotiations are taking place with the PPTA and ministry about the differences in contracts relating to Communities of Schools and Communities of Learners, but we are being kept in the dark as to what is being discussed. We know that when agreement is reached it will be sold as a done deal. Now why does that sound familiar to me?

The changes being made to the Communities of Schools model are, I believe, mainly cosmetic and changing the name to Communities of Learners does not suddenly make bad policy good policy.

What disturbs me most is that over 90% of NZEI members who voted opposed IES, yet our union is promoting a model that is little different from the original. To say that the government will legislate to ensure our involvement is not a good enough reason to stop fighting for what we believe in. We have opposed national standards, EDUCANZ and IES and yet we now find all are implemented or being implemented, basically in the form the government proposed.

The response to my concerns about following the PPTA contract and having the ministry pay for practising certificates is another example of where the union has got it so wrong. We can hardly complain about the undemocratic way EDUCANZ was formed and the political appointments made by the minister when they are paying for our certification. To be told that ‘the feedback from most members was that this was a small win that NZEI members should also claim’ is factually incorrect. It is yet another red herring.  I am unaware of NZEI seeking feedback, yet to use the word most suggests over fifty percent of members have expressed that opinion. Why should we settle for a small win?

By its actions I feel NZEI is buying into the mantra that large sections of our community are being ‘underserved’ by our education system. I believe we have dedicated teachers doing amazing things in successful schools. Success to me is happy children who enjoy being at school and love learning.

We do not claim to be perfect, but we have the skills and knowledge that should and must be listened to.

I have been a member of NZEI for many years and strongly believe in the concept of unionism and that in unity is strength. Without strong leadership and open and meaningful communication there is no unity.

Please explain to me why I should remain a member.


Dear NZEI, your members are unhappy…

by Save Our Schools NZ

In September, NZEI informed members that we had voted to allow the NZEI Executive to continue working with the Education Minister on the Communities of Learners (CoLs) plan.

The union worded its missive carefully, saying “Seventy-one percent of principal members and 78 percent of primary teachers voting in ballots held around the country accepted the Ministry’s offer.” And this is very true. 78% of teachers and 71% of principals WHO VOTED did indeed say to go ahead. However, that is not the full picture.

What was left unsaid is that a huge proportion of members didn’t vote at all.

And when they are factored in, the ‘yes’ vote was just over 30% of members.

And don’t think this was due to apathy – even stalwarts like myself didn’t vote!

Why, you might ask, would we miss out on having our say?

We had been given very little information to go on, and were being told that we should vote yes without being given clear reasons why. But at the same time, we didn’t have enough information to vote no. In short, we were rather in the dark.

So people abstained.

People walked out of meetings.

Some stopped listening.

People started muttering that they were seriously thinking of leaving the union altogether as they feel betrayed.

And today I heard from a union site rep who wants to resign because she can’t just sell the “dead rat” as she’s being told to do.

This is a disaster.

I love my union and unions in general – the work they do is amazing – so I don’t say this lightly at all, but on this one NZEI dropped the ball. And we deserved better.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of NZEI National President Louise Green when she said the Communities of Learners offer was “a complex and difficult decision for many people”. The union tells us that we must keep “working together to shape the implementation of Communities and their resourcing, in order to get the best outcomes for children.” I know the Executive have worked hard and done their best. But we don’t have faith that this is what’s happening.

What many fear is that the union is making very little progress, if any, in reshaping the actual agenda for education – one that’s been revealed in unsavoury bursts, and usually while schools are on holiday.

The union must take very seriously that so many of their members are unhappy.

Almost 70% of us did NOT vote for CoLs.

It is not popular.

We are not sheep.

We are not going to vote yes just because you tell us to.

This time, please make sure the PUMs are honest, open and give plenty of clear information. Do not make them into a sales pitch like the last ones. Be honest and trust us to make the right decisions based on actual information.

You need to win your members’ trust back, and we deserve nothing less.

This entry was posted in NZEI, Principals, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Communities of Schools: an email dialogue between a principal and NZEI (Part 2)

  1. Paul says:

    Yes, if the government wanted to break the union it seems that they simply had to let them act as they have in this farce. I for one, from being pro union and working steadfastly against the GERM (remember that NZEI?) could not be more disheartened with this turn of events and even worse duplicity. NZEI have never done the work necessary to get it members behind it and then blame the members for not being prepared to take action. Unionism is about working with and informing the members – it used to be called organising – now it is about schmoozing and being in ‘the tent’ – for those of us care about children and our education system it is simply not good enough.

  2. JuergenKlopp says:

    As someone who fought hard for primary pay parity (remember that??) I am so frustrated that NZEI have simply given up that position – as equals – with secondary and are now content to collect the crumbs from the PPTA table after they have negotiated deals with the Ministry.

    I have had concerns about the lack of leadership in NZEI for some time and share the view of the Principal in this posting – “why should I remain a member?”

  3. I second exactly what Paul said, above. From being a proactive organisation, we now seem to have a reactive one guided more by fear than by what is right. Let’s regain our union proper and start to rebuild the members’ trust. ~ Dianne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.