Investing in Educational Success – what it might mean for parents, unions and laptops

The General Election in September will be all about education. The National Party has been on the front foot this year – and this is a little unusual.

One of their key policies is IESInvesting in Educational Success. In a nutshell, $358m over three years invested into teacher salaries. Clusters of about 10 schools each will form and appoint Executive Principals, Lead Teachers and Expert Teachers. Change Principals can also be brought in to fix broken schools. The $358m funds these professionals in the form of bonuses – which is really great.

The two teacher unions are divided on this. The PPTA supports it. In fact, they love it. The NZEI are not happy.

I think that what’s going on here is to do with National Standards. The NZEI have been wrestling with National Standards since their inception and have grounds to believe that they will eventually be linked to performance pay and school funding. It’s clear that the appointment of the new IES positions will be linked to academic success – for primary teachers that reads “good NS data.”

Secondary Teachers have been under the gaze of academic success forever. NCEA is the current standard, but before it there were Bursary and Scholarship results. They’re used to scrutiny and comparison.

Why does this matter? Well, the relationship between the two teacher unions is quite tense. The last collective agreement saw the NZEI settle first, knowing that if the PPTA made any more gains then they would inherit the better remuneration and conditions.

The IES scheme will be written into the new collective agreements – which is a far better way to go. But it is likely to drive the unions apart and this will only mean one thing: industrial action. Oh dear.

I promised to mention laptops: all of these new positions will create a backfil problem. 5000 lead teachers will have 2 days per week assigned to helping their colleagues. That means that someone else will have to do their regular job during that time. Part-timers. Relievers. Return-to-work mums.

I think this is great, but it makes life very complicated for the school.

But: laptops.

Full-time, permanent teachers generate laptop funding. Temporary positions (like most part-timers) don’t. Laptops for these teachers need to be funded by the school. In my experience, the ministry-funded laptops are pretty good. Not perfect, but not bad. When a teacher doesn’t qualify for a laptop the school has to fork out. This sometimes means an old machine with an exhausted battery. A slew of part-time teachers with poor technology.

It’s fantastic that a National government is making this investment.

This is what the future holds:

  • industrial action as the unions bring out their knives
  • several thousand new teacher positions – but not funded by the laptop scheme

One more thing: consultation. The NZEI has an excellent point about consultation. The Ministry is dissolving the Teachers Council and replacing it with its own professional body with no elected representation. For the teachers to have no ownership over their professional body is a bad idea.




If you like what I’m saying, please let me know on twitter or in the comments. If you don’t agree, even better! I really want to hear what you have to say.

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