Graham Stoop: get on with it, do your dirty work

The Herald article was headed ‘Let’s help teachers help our kids’.


Teachers are not properly represented on EDUCANZ (or anywhere), and here is this individual condescendingly saying ‘Let’s help teachers help our kids.’

I know this individual; I know his friendly-uncle routine – some education snake oil is in the offing; some idea to keep his crony-packed EDUCANZ  amused and busy.

A good third of the article is badmouthing national standards, which is a sour laugh because Stoop was in charge of getting them through the House.

Stoop, would you believe,  now sees little good in them. The results are not shifting much, he says, and are of little use to anyone.

Good for tying schools in knots, though aren’t they? Seemed to be important for the clusters.

Are you interested in seeing where this Aotearoa Socrates is heading?

Well, he goes all sunny-side up.

‘I’m starting 2016 optimistic …’ as against other years?

‘We are seeing an increasingly sophisticated approach to teaching and learning that uses a research-based approach with cycles of ongoing review that focus school professional on the progress children are making and how effective their work has been in helping them progress.’

Come again.

It’s a reference to a review office idea that has for some years cast a heavy bureaucratic pall over the classrooms of New Zealand.

‘We’re also seeing much greater awareness of the role of motivation of developing the vital learning-to-learn and “soft skills” that help children progress at school, and give them resilience, communication and problem-solving skills they’ll need as adults.’

What is he going on about? (We are agog.)

But hold on! There is a big bad wolf at the door?

‘But all that work could be undermined …’ Oh no – not those ‘vital learning-to-learn and “soft skills”…’

What could it be?

‘But all that work could be undermined if schools feel they’re not going to be measured on how they improve and enrich the learning of their students, but simply on national standards.’ Clumsy sentence – possibly because it’s a tortuous idea, but, ah! Not enough measuring is the big bad wolf.

Enrichment measured?  He’s going to measure everything? That 2016 optimism was just a ploy. What a sham this individual is.

The toxicity that is the review office is about to be spread visited even more dangerously on schools. No doubt through those damned indicators. We need another set of objectives like we need a hole in our head. Our curriculum should be the national curriculum document not the periodic fumblings of bureaucrats or naïve (at best) government-aligned academics.

‘… simply national standards’? … ‘simply national standards’? After all the wonders and floor-crack sealing and parental and teacher enlightenment they were going to deliver.

You and Anne Tolley imposed national standards on New Zealand primary schools, declaring that that was all that was needed; you sacked all the advisers involved in the wider curriculum; and got rid of the National Education Monitoring Project.

Now this.

You talk of consultation but you are going to do it anyway aren’t you – no matter what? Why don’t put aside the … and just do it?

We’re sick of your hypocrisy.

Teachers  are still going to have to use those national standards aren’t they – the ones you were talking down; and now these swingeingly  terrible showy paper trails adding up to nothing except desiccation?

You are going to change the 1989 Education Act aren’t you? you are going to impose those truly awful review office cycles on schools?

You ask whether the Act should ‘contain some achievement goals’ Of course they are, you know they are. They’re already written by that ever-reliable consultancy Hire an Academic, not one teacher in view.

For just a moment Graham can you hold a thought that I might know a little about such things. I want to say this – no forget it.

The horror of the National government education horror years continues unabated and now pretty much unopposed.

EDUCANZ is just another level of bureaucracy, another level of bureaucracy to bear down on principals, and when schools complain to NZEI, NZEI runs a survey to see if principals are indeed being borne down on, and when principals shout to the heavens ‘Yes we are’, NZEI says, ‘Oh dear, we will let people know’. Oh just wonderful: that will do the job.
Nearly all principals know that the only way to reduce principals’ workload is to change the system.

EDUCANZ is the archetype of a neoliberal institution with the teacher voice individual and the government voice organisational. Its Davina and Goliath with no Davinas in sight or ever likely to be. Teacher organisations should have nothing to do with such ‘representation’; a Teacher Council should be controlled by teacher organisations. Yet here we have the present president of NZEI a past member and a past president of NZEI a present member.

Teacher organisations should wash their hands of the changed Education Act saying it meets no known school, teacher, or child needs while in all likelihood considerably deepening them – and agitate for a change of system.

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12 Responses to Graham Stoop: get on with it, do your dirty work

  1. So he’s saying National Standards are now bad and Value Added Metrics (VAM) are good. I think he’ll find that there’s mountains of evidence to show that VAMs are just as bad if not worse. Perhaps he should speak to a few American teachers and see what their experiences have been. Or to the US school districts that have dropped them like hot potatoes. Or to the people suing school districts for wages lost due to shambolic VAM scores. For someone who likes to use the evidence, there’s plenty out there if only Mr Stoop would look.

  2. Kelvin says:

    He ruled out VUM but went for that ERO cycle and measurement against achievement goals. Just about as terrible. More ERO stamping over and through schools.

    • poled says:

      Freudian slip with “VUM” ? As in being on about the latest sortie of Graham Stoop and having another word firmly in the front of your mind – ‘DUMB’ ?

  3. Brigid says:

    Is Graham Stoop commenting as chief executive of the Education Council on changes to ERO’s review cycles? If so he seems to be stepping beyond his role and muddying the waters between his previous positions with the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office and his current position. This ‘opinion piece’ has definately reinforced my distrust of the Education Council. Is it an organisation representing teachers? Or an organisation where the chief executive is representing the MoE and/or ERO?

    • Kelvin says:

      Yes Brigid he is speaking as head of EDUCANZ and his references are really to feeding off the ERO education indicators (posting on them shortly) directly for EDUCANZ purposes and directly but slightly peripherally to Claire Sinnema’s appraisals which are going to be administered by EDUCANZ. Sinnema was on the ERO academic group that produced the indicators. It is going to be a huge entanglement.

  4. Brian says:

    I have the same level of confidence in Graham now as I did when he worked for the Ministry of Education and before that the Education Review Office as nothing has changed.
    select one ; Some, Minimal, None ( unsure of the order )

  5. Kelvin says:

    Thanks Brian – we’ll grant you resident expert on this one.

  6. Bruce Crawford says:

    Bugger him and his ideas. My staff will continue to do what is right for the kids. I will keep on standing between them and people who have nutcase ideas. Probably means they will come hunting me but they can’t take my birthday away now can they. The reality is if all principals gave their staff the freedom to do what is right for the kids, then the thought police will have been beaten before they can started. Wow must have over dosed on grumpy pills.
    1 further comment a deal is a deal so Honour the Treaty, simple.

  7. Kelvin says:

    Sue says: Well said Bruce.

  8. Mike Scaddan says:

    I totally agree. Principals who have been afraid to speak up for truth have contributed to the problem
    Mike Scaddan

  9. P. Absolum says:

    Wonder what his legacy was at Burnside High School?

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