This is a two-part posting:
- The first is based on information about the wider and real plans for the education system.
- The second is a glimpse of what I see as the cluster morass.
As a foreword, my sources tell me the two parts come together in that the control over teachers to be exercised by the cluster structures will pave the way for the introduction of the neoliberal polices within and emanating from the new Education Act.
Wider and real plans:
- The Raising Achievement Plan was produced in anticipation of the new Education Act. It will be the first of many curriculum-like documents to be produced by the bureaucracies – with the Education Council to be particularly active. The motivation is to produce such documents free of contamination by teachers or their representatives, given legal status, and eventually made to carry financial penalties for schools considered to have performed poorly.
- Against all the promises not to, there will be a definite move to significantly fund schools on performance.
- The clusters are being set up with the clear intention of amalgamating the boards within them; the cluster leader being given the status of a minor district manager.
- If National is re-elected, funding will be a mixture of voucher and bulk funding, opening the way for the increased employment of unregistered cheaper teachers.
- The targeting of certain children for extra funding will eventually be refined to a voucher system and serve as a model for the voucher system to be widened in scope to all children.
- The number of targeted children will fall far short of what is promised.
- The funding per student in private schools is a step towards the academisation of state schools.
Glimpse of the cluster morass:
The ministry provides clusters with a PLD planning template (yes it is all about kontrol).
To qualify for funding for PLD, clusters have been asked to produce plans that meet ministry requirements.
The template asks the clusters to identify needs, but the completed plans look almost identical: numerous on targets and short on the how.
For PLD, clusters will have to choose off a list supplied by the ministry.
Amidst all this, the clusters must select a leader which has to be okayed by the minister (many are being turned down) – and hard luck for secondary principals (the numbers well stacked against them).
As we all know, in the first year, the clusters will rely solely on their own ‘expert’ teachers, many of whom have had minimal experience in providing quality PLD.
Endless discussion is occurring, very little agreement, much snide comment, and sharp divisions.
Anyway, the means and content won’t be able to stray far from review office philosophy and requirements.
In response, the bureaucrats are stepping in and imposing ministry policies.
There are already clear signs that putting ‘curriculum expert’ teachers from primary and secondary into a room to decide ‘how’ to meet government-approved targets will be contentious.
In the end, the systematic overview will be imposed by the bureaucrats.
School education is going to take years to work things out and what is worked out in the end won’t have been worth the wait – to cover up the failure, the inflation of NCEA and national standards results will be an education thing of wonder.
At the regional level, the ten ministry offices will be working intensively with clusters to help them sort things out – interpreted, that means, the clusters will follow what they are told by Wellington.
Individual schools will be under constant pressure to maintain position, status, and performance.
As a result, clusters will prove to be a highly competitive environment.
All this will work to the advantage of the centre which will exponentially increase its power and hold.