Education Amendment Bill changes have been approved

So… if you’re wanting an idea about how the teaching profession is going to exist now, look no further than this rubber stamp.

According to news from Radio New Zealand this afternoon, the Education and Science Select Committee have approved changes to the Education Amendment Bill that will allow the Minister of Education to appoint every single member of the new Teachers’ Council.

Just to clarify what this means: Every single member of the board responsible for the registration and disciplining of teachers across New Zealand is going to be appointed by Hekia Parata.

The new body is to be called EduCANZ (see my previous posting on this). It’s a pretty little acronym which flows off the tongue quite nicely – as opposed to the bile that rises in the back of my throat at the thought of the National Party being in complete control of my professional body.

Would the Medical Council let the Health Minister appoint all the members of their governing body? Would the Law Commission welcome the Justice Minister or the Attorney General having full and final say over the make up of that organisation?

These are all professional bodies who have strong ties to government funding. Many billions of our tax dollars are spent on health, education and administration of the law. What’s to stop the (National & ACT mostly) government deciding they want to control those sectors through appointments and such like? I doubt they would be allowed to get away with it, however. Those bodies have strong voices and would never let the government take control of their professional bodies.

ASIDE: I’m not saying we teachers are ‘letting’ the government take charge of our professional body. I made a submission, as did many thousand of others, but they were ignored. When has this government every listened to the education sector about any of its policies?

But then this government has shown in the past how little regard it has for the rule of democracy. Just ask the voters of Canterbury. Want a regional council? Well you can’t have one. We have important work to do.

At present the Teachers’ Council is a partly appointment, partly elected body. When the bill is passed this will be a totally appointed body – a body whose sole aim will be the destruction of the teaching profession (don’t believe me? Have a look at what is happening to professional teaching organisations and unions in the United States). Once you have a subservient profession, then you can mould and manipulate to your heart’s content.

Of course, if National don’t manage to cobble together their various has-beens into a coalition of the desperately willing, then we may not be forced to endure the ignominy of having our profession deconstructed in this way.


Mr B


Education bill changes approved: RNZ, 15 July, 2014.

Things that caught my eye this week

As I struggle to wake up this morning after a most exhausting penultimate week of the term, I thought I’d share a couple of articles that appeared in the Guardian this week.

The first outlined how much time teachers in England and Wales spend on their various work tasks. As it turns out just one third of their working time is spent in front of children.

Teachers in England spend only a third of their working week instructing pupils face to face, despite working longer hours than their counterparts in other European countries, according to the widest survey of teaching carried out to date.

If you extrapolate that out to, say, my working day. I spend four and a half hours in front of my class – that makes 22.5 “in-front-of-class” hours, so I would be working over 60 hours a week. It certainly felt like it this week with reports!

While only around one in three teachers said they felt the value of teaching was appreciated by society, that figure was well above many other countries, such as France, Sweden and Spain, where fewer than 10% felt that it was valued. More than four out of five teachers in England said they were satisfied with their job, while only 8% said they regretted becoming a teacher.

If we were to carry out a similar survey here in New Zealand I think the figures would be a bit higher that in England, but over time they would be falling. After all, if we have learnt anything from all those National Party actual conflicts of interest this year, perception is everything.

The other story that caught my eye was an article profiling the inspection of schools by Ofsted resulting in headteachers being forced out following a less than satisfactory review.

…is one of many headteachers to have lost their jobs, or been forced out quietly, in Kent. More than 20 primary and secondary headteachers in the county have been removed from their jobs in the past two years and either suspended or put on “gardening leave” while their futures are decided following Ofsted inspections. It is believed, though not confirmed by any official statistics, that up to 40 others may have been encouraged to resign quietly.

With the Investing in Educational Success (IES) plan high on the government’s reelection agenda, I thought this struck very close to our educational bone here in New Zealand. Having devolved school governance to the community with Tomorrow’s Schools back in the late 80s, our current neoliberal overlords are wanting to wrestle that control back through a massive reorganisation of the structure of school management in this country.

Change principals, expert teachers, lead teachers or whatever they will be eventually called because the media & parents have turned those monikers toxic as they did with the term “charter school,” will be used by the government to implement the current policy direction. You will only be able to apply for one of these jobs if your national standards achievement data is going in the right direction. Don’t even bother if it ain’t.

But I digress. The phenomenon of principals being forced out in Kent will be replicated here if the IES is allowed to eventuate. “Experts” or “Leaders” will be measured based on the achievement data of their school. Thusly, schools will be deemed to be “failing” if their achievement data doesn’t move or, God forbid, goes “backwards.” We will see more principals on “gardening leave” as ERO orders them out of school and parachutes in hand-crafted managers to mould the school to the liking of the minister.

We will be managed from above and devolved school governance will be a thing of the past.

When voters parents realise this I don’t think National will do very well with the soft centre-ground of woman voters who quite like John Key. If they see their children’s education under threat, that spells doom for any elected government.

It’s our job as campaigners of free public education for all to get that message out there to the parents of New Zealand. Then perhaps, just perhaps, there will be a change in government in a few months and we can assign the John Key led debacle to the annals of history as we have done with Muldoon and Jenny Shipley.

Mr B.


Teachers spend less than half their working week in the classroom: Guardian – 25 June, 2014

The headteachers paying the price for failure: Guardian – 24 June, 2014

How to measure stuff

Good morning everybody – Hekia speaking.

You may not have heard from me for a while. I can tell you I’ve been very extremely busy. Mostly I’ve been consulting with relevant stakeholders on a range of things. That’s probably why I’ve been out of the media; there’s only seven stakeholders in the country that I’m aware of but they’re all very important and donate a lot of money are full of so many ideas, so it’s important for the National Party education of New Zealand children that I spend as much time with them as possible.

What I did want to talk about today is the process of measuring, in particular, how to measure stuff.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh god no. Please don’t talk about measuring stuff. This is the single most boring thing you can talk about other than fiscal responsibility, climate change or basic human rights.”

However, measuring stuff is the only way to get better at things. If we measure something, we can find out where things need to be fixed. If we measure something, we can find out where we can stop spending money altogether. It’s really that simple.

Let me give you an example.

Recently I was attending a meeting of stakeholders. Some of these millionaires raised some interesting points. The over-arching consensus from all of those present was that despite the fact that none of them had worked in education or been inside a school since they had left formal education in the mid- to late-1970s, all were in agreement that things were much better back then and all children knew how to read, write and do their times-tables. Many said workers in their large corporations spent hours reciting the times-tables; it’s an extremely common part of many, many modern-day jobs. There was a concern that current school leavers would not be able to work out 6 x 7 and would think that, despite the advent of calculators and Google, there was no way on earth they would ever be able to work out this most complex of workplace problems.

It was then that I, Minister of Education, suggested a solution. A solution that already exists.

Why don’t we hold weekly times-tables tests across all New Zealand schools. Even though many such tests are available on-line for free, we can hire a multi-national test writer like Pearson to make the tests really hard so they are actually tests of unknown knowledge rather than tests of things children know. That way we can work out which children in New Zealand don’t know problems like 6 x 7 and then we can syphon money from Reading Recovery, ESOL, RTLBs and other special needs programmes to make sure that Novopay still sort of works.

We will be able to, in consultation with the journalistic community, release the results of our testing and, over time, see all the vast improvements that will be made as we reduce the overall education budget to spend it on failed pay systems and struggling chartnership schools.

I think you’ll all agree with me if we are sure every child knows that 6 x 7 is 48, New Zealand will be far more competitive on the international stage.

Right. Off to speak with more stakeholders at a $70,000 a head continental breakfast.

Hek x

Who can teachers rely on?

This article has some very similar thoughts to my blog from Thursday evening… You should read both!!


It was 1990: an article from the first edition of Developmental Network Newsletter – a memo to myself

I stood outside the departmental offices in the Hamilton Education Board, barred from returning, apparently to protect the supplies of HBs and paper.

For me it had all started with accounts of how neo-liberalism and the associated managerialism were affecting school systems in England and America, especially America. Accounts I had read but more powerfully heard from academics at research conferences, the most telling and impassioned being from Ivan Snook.

– – –

It was early 1988 and I was standing at a bus queue at Wellington airport when I heard my name called out; it was Noel Scott, now an associate education minister, previously a district senior inspector of schools while I was in the primary inspectorate across the Waikato River.

‘Hop in,’ he said from his chauffeur-driven car.

He was…

View original post 2,259 more words

Hekia Parata (and National) – You are disgusting

If you want proof that this National government cares not for anything other than themselves and their ridiculous and defunked ideology you need look no further than the headline I’ve just read in the New Zealand Herald – or as I like to call it, the National Party Daily Newsletter.

School funding shakeup looms…

…it said in big letters.

Ok, I thought. I wanted it to mean that the education system would actually be funded at levels where we would be able to deliver a 21st century education to 21st century learners.

Then I read the first paragraph.

The Government is looking to fund schools according to the progress their pupils make, the Education Minister has revealed.

And in one single sentence the Herald on Sunday has announced our fantastic education system, the education system that developed a curriculum that was the envy of many other countries around the world, is doomed to become an utter joke.

We will become an a system like the United States of America where students with special needs are excluded from schools because their “results” are not up to the high standards set by the Education Ministry and the minister.

As any teaching professional knows, student learning is not a linear process. No child moves through their years at school achieving at a constant rate. Some years, as things click into place, “progress” as measured against stupid bloody standards, may look, for want of a better word, slower than everyone else. That is just the “normal” children who don’t have specialised learning needs.

Yes… that’s right. Specialised learning needs. If you have any of these and you have to travel through an education system with any kind of nationally set standards, then you are deemed a failure right from the start of school until you exit – possibly too early and without qualifications because your learning needs are not catered for by the narrowed and weakened curriculum that standards of this nature give us.

So what happens when you link either a) teachers’ pay or b) school funding to the performance of students?

This, this, and this.

In short, schools pressured by media and government bureaucrats will, in turn, pressure their teachers to such a degree that they will be massively overworked and stressed. When you have a situation like that, bad things start happening.

Schools begin to “fiddle” with their standards results. If your funding was about to be cut and your school would lose a teacher because your students were not achieving at the desired rate, what do you think would happen. Fraud is wrong but it happens everywhere (except banks – no banks are free of even the slightest hint of fraud).

This policy, or as I am dubbing it, this shit-storm of dick-headery, will ruin our education system. Teachers will leave, schools will fail, and, ultimately, New Zealand students will be worse off.

One of the key problems with the Global Education Reform Movement is that it takes so long to show its abject failure. The United States, which has been “reforming” for the greatest length of time, is only now seeing a ground-swell of protest from parents against the corporate takeover of their public education system.

The most unfortunate and saddening thing about this whole business is until kiwi parents (i.e. voters) start seeing their kids harassed and stressed by high stakes testing, until they see their child’s love of learning disappear quicker than you can say “Parata did this,” until they start seeing education policy impact on their daily lives, it is unlikely that we will see any change from the current direction.

People will only vote against a government if they are directly affected. Not everybody has a special needs child. Not everybody lives in a lower socio-economic area. Not everybody is a teacher. Until such a time as the majority of parents are affected by this policy, a change is unlikely.

Unless National get voted out in September because everyone realises how utterly corrupt and devoid of vision they are for anyone not running a business, farm or Chinese dairy conglomerate, then their arrogance to implement any policy they see fit will continue unabated.

Sad but true.

Mr B.

Post Script: I refer you to my previous blog posting Dipping my hands into the elephantshit to explain how the minister will “strongly incentivising pupil progress” as the she puts it.


School funding shakeup looms: Herald on Sunday – March 16, 2014

How charter schools choose desirable students: Washington Post – February 16, 2013

Teachers indicted in biggest standardized testing scam in U.S. history: Washington Examiner – April 2, 2013

Secret Teacher: why our working hours just don’t add up: Guardian – 15 March, 2014