Treachery! Part 1: The Hipkins’ swift one and the satire

In what follows, I spell out briefly an astonishingly duplicitous U turn by Chris Hipkins that has horrid implications for education. These implications are examined in a further Attack! but I needed to get the message out quickly to encourage people of good conscience to have their say. I do this because I don’t consider the matter lost. 

This posting is being sent to all Coalition and Support party mps.

If I am new to any mps, I accept as accurate anything Tracey Martin says about me. (Not that she had anything, of course, to do with this explosion.)

If Chris Hipkin’s duplicity is allowed to proceed, all hell will break loose.


The minister’s actions reaffirm my belief that it is people like me not Nikki Kaye who are his main adversaries.

The bulk of this short posting is a satirical response in which I imagine Iona Holsted, under the influence of momentary of self-awareness, writing something close to the truth.

First, the background:

  • On April 20, a paper for cabinet paper, approvingly quoted by Chris Hipkins said a complex situation for evaluation was not needed: ‘What we need to do is strengthen the use of curricula in understanding and supporting all students’ progress and achievement.’

In that statement lay the hopes for the holistic and greater teacher control of teaching; in that way lay a future for all children, especially children struggling in their learning – but in that way lay difficulty for experts and education bureaucrats because in that way lay a need for them to know how to teach, what genuine learning was, genuine learning for children, and to have reduced control, to take on a different role.

  • But Chris Hipkins betrayed his promises to teachers and children, especially those teachers and children for whom Labour so often in education seems to weep crocodile tears.

‘Review group quietly appointed on replacing national standards’ was the heading in the Herald, June 10.

The 13-member Ministerial Advisory Group on the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement will report to Education Minister Chris Hipkins on new measures of student progress and achievement across Years 1 to 10 – two years beyond the old National Standards.’

‘The ministry of education launched an online survey seeking the views of parents and educators, but Chris Hipkins left ministry officials to announce it quietly on Friday, 8 June with the survey closing on Thursday, 28 June.’

This is treachery. 

And you should see who is on the Advisory Group and who went along with the deception and who have been reconstructed from the terrible national standards past.

Chris Hipkins has, of course, betrayed us, but I warned you, so there should be no surprise. 

Chris Hipkins’ U turn from his progressive position on evaluation to a review office-type one is set to be decisive in where his education changes are heading. The U turn represents an end to any hopes of education becoming focused on teaching and learning, meaning school education will continue to be controlled by progress and achievement, that is measurement, as labelled by academics and bureaucrats and set and administered by them. Children with high social and cultural capital will barely be touched by the continuation of the broken primary school education, but the children Labour says it particularly represents will be particularly damaged.

The chilling U turn to the seriously failed past, and from a very different promised future, is set out in horridly tangled review office bureaucratese.

 If the writer wasn’t hiding something, was wanting to be honest, and miraculous self-awareness had settled on her, the following could have been what was written:

Written under the influence of momentary self-awareness

In this document what is being instituted is a form of compulsory testing and, with that, a form of external control similar to that exercised by the existing review office; as well, classrooms will continue to concentrate on testing, that is some bits and pieces left over at the end of the teaching and learning process, not the extra degree of affective or cognitive complexity that is always present in teaching and learning. This is an unavoidable cost (amongst many it is acknowledged), that teachers and children will have to bear for the privilege of retaining a form of external control similar to the existing review office. This concentration on testing is significantly because it is a way for bureaucratic agencies to be able function and to build their necessary political, public, and media esteem, yes, at some cost to teachers and children (but for reasons explained above above). But where would teachers and children be (as has been suggested) if the external control was changed to a genuine collegial, advisory presence? (This communication, of course, serves the purpose of stamping all over the education territory belonging to the Tomorrow’s Schools panel.) In the present external control circumstances, representatives only rarely go into classrooms for genuine observation or at all (bear in mind the savings). A concentration on testing is a way for people with little or no particular experience in the teaching occurring to hold the education tiger by the testing tail and wave test results around in superior manner invariably accompanied by formulaic criticisms and suggestions (nothing like having potential organisational minds relatively educationally empty to be able to fill). Imposing testing procedures is very simple, one doesn’t need to know much about, or anything, about the teaching or learning; indeed, to make it simpler, the testing requires the teaching and learning to follow the testing which, in formal testing, is always narrower than the teaching and learning even when the teaching and learning has already been narrowed by the testing (makes it all that much easier for politicians, public, and media to understand).

This document means we have succeeded in turning the minister away from any disruptive change such as his original idea of putting the teaching and learning first with the effect of giving more control of classrooms to teachers (god forbid!) and let evaluation improvement flow from the improved teaching and learning, much of that improvement coming from (they say) central ideas evolved from their cultural past (which they are continually banging on about). Admittedly, it is a cultural past and its evolution that had New Zealand at or near the top in international tests amongst Western countries not at the bottom where it is now (but what nonsense, where does that leave 21st century education?) Anyway, what we are doing is copying the Australian Gonski report (David Gonski, an Australian businessman who has produced a kind of New Zealand Picot Report to replace the failed Australian national testing) with a web of Hattie tests and Hattie-like tests, based as we know on his research (yes, it is dodgy, but his idea of children learning in steps and his simplistic tests are just what the education bureaucrat orders). Yes, there is an irony in using Hattie again, given he was the architect of national standards (as stated by John Key) and supplied a good number of the tests that we recommended (read insisted on), but the beauty of the neoliberal philosophy we adhere to is that TINA (There Is No Other Way) and If It Works, Use It (IIWUI), means we don’t examine matters to extinction. The question, of course, is for whom does it work? And the answer, by serendipity I can assure you, is us, also the political Wellington establishment (of which we are an emblematic part), quantitative academics, and the children of the wealthy. The philosophy allows us, after the inevitable failure (as suffered by the losers), to act on TINA and IIWUI (eewooee) and repeat the same policies but more so, it works every time,

Thanks minister.

This entry was posted in Education Policy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Treachery! Part 1: The Hipkins’ swift one and the satire

  1. North Island principal says:

    Good morning Kelvin

    Just read your post …’Treachery’.


    I can see where this is all heading, after 37 years in the game and probably a lot like you, with a personal pedagogical philosophy which I feel has been attacked from all sides over the last 20 odd years.

    As a school, we did not join a CoL despite the pressure to do so. Our reward was a 3 year ERO return, rather than a 5.

    This was made clear as a pivotal reason.

    Never mind. They are due back sometime late 2018/ early 2019 and it will be very interesting to see the stance they now take. It is so adversarial isn’t it?

    I remember the days of advisors (who had teacher’s and children’s genuine curriculum-focused interests at heart), meaningful choices in PD delivered through courses (now a dirty word) and the good old Education Board.

    We are … and lived there for all but the last 20 years. It now seems a dreamlike existence.

  2. The joy has gone out of teaching... says:

    I just read this post too. Very scary. I too remember the days when you could get advisors across the curriculum. The curriculum that makes school engaging and allows children’s different strengths to shine. Now we live off a steady, bland, uninspiring and starchy diet of reading, writing and maths. I am under no illusions that these are necessary but school used to be so much more inspiring and creative. Kids are bored and teachers are bored.

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.