Chris Trotter – Pressure towards the mean: do we really want to abolish streaming?

Political  commentator CHRIS TROTTER writes – 

ABOLISH STREAMING, that is the demand of the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA). They are not alone in their determination to put an end to the “blatantly racist” practice of grouping secondary-school students according to their intelligence/academic ability. The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, considers streaming “inequitable” and the Ministry of Education agrees with him.

With forces as powerful as the Minister, the Ministry, and the Union ranged against the practice, its days would appear to be numbered.

 Which leaves New Zealanders with the vexed question of what will happen when streaming is no more? Will their children emerge from the public education system with the skills and qualifications necessary to foot-it in the modern world? Or, will their education be limited to whatever the least engaged and least talented students allow their teachers to impart? Continue reading “Chris Trotter – Pressure towards the mean: do we really want to abolish streaming?”

Govt gets a “fail” mark in Education but (with another $24 million of our money) ministers pledge they will try to do better

    • UPDATE:  Re the above headline.

Jan Tinetti said the government is investing a further $24 million in initiatives to deliver close to 1,000 additional teachers.   

Chris Hipkins said it is putting $20 million into additional teaching and tutoring services.

The grand total:  $44 million….

And here’s our original post:

Yet  another  failure  of the  Ardern  government,  this  time  in  education,   has  surfaced, with  ministers earmarking another $24 million in an effort to  recruit  more  teachers and provide  “extra  support”  for  young  people whose  learning has been disrupted  by  Covid-19.

Earlier  the  government  lowered   the  bar for  NCEA achievement in schools for  the  third  year  running.

Critics  at   that time  said  lowering  the  bar   is  a  natural  response if  you want to  paper over the  cracks rather  than fix  the  actual problem, which is a combination  of low school  attendance,and  acres  of   missed  learning as a  result.

In  the  words of  one  of  these  critics,

“Rather than the inconvenience  of  mobilising a  full-court  press to  help  those  who have  been  missing  out,we  are  to maintain  a facade that  these  students  have  been as   well  educated as  those  from  pre-Covid  years”.

Other  countries have  spent  big  money  on catch-up  learning, arranging  extra  days  of  schooling, or  vouchers for  private  tuition to help students learn  what  they need to learn before they leave school.

Then  there  has  been  the disaster  of  the  polytechnics, where the Ardern government’s move to  centralise the  administration  has   virtually  wrecked  the system, piling  up deficits  at the  same time as rolls  have  fallen.

But none  of  this  can  be  detected   in   the  latest   statement   from  Ministers  Chris  Hipkins  and  Jan  Tinetti.

Point  of  Order produces  the statement  in  full, to enable our readers to appreciate the  irony.

Government investing in 1000 more teachers and student learning affected by COVID-19

      • Hundreds more overseas and domestic teachers to fill workforce gaps
      • Funding for additional teaching and tutoring in schools
      • More targeted Māori and Pacific tutoring and mentoring
      • Additional places on Te Kura’s summer school

The Government is continuing to invest in teachers and students, through a multi-million dollar package to boost teacher supply and provide extra support for young people whose learning has been disrupted by COVID-19, Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.

“Teacher supply has long been a priority for us. Ensuring we have more teachers is vital to ensure our kids are getting the education they need. There is high international demand for teachers and New Zealand trained teachers are also well received internationally,” Jan Tinetti said.

“This Government has invested heavily in teacher supply initiatives both here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and through recruiting overseas. By investing a further $24m in these initiatives, we plan to deliver close to 1,000 additional teachers – we expect to recruit approximately 700 internationally and 300 domestically.

“Overseas trained teachers have always been a valued part of the workforce; they bring diversity and rich experience to our communities. It’s also the quickest way to get experienced teachers into schools, so we’ll bring in hundreds more through this package. 

“But the long-term goal is to improve the supply of domestic teachers, so we can meet demand when needed. So we are increasing the number of teachers who can train while they are placed in schools, putting more incentives in place to get beginning and returning teachers into hard-to-staff roles and expanding our successful ‘career changer’ scholarships, which are designed to encourage and enable mid-career professionals with valuable life experience to become teachers,” Jan Tinetti said.

“As well as increasing teacher supply, we are also ensuring our young people, whose learning has been disrupted by COVID-19, won’t fall behind,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“We know that young people have missed some crucial time in the classroom throughout the last two and a half years and we need to address the impact of that head-on.

“So we are putting $20 million towards additional teaching and tutoring services. This will include exam preparation, workshops, tutorials and homework, and one-on-one mentoring. We know that schools are best placed to make the best decisions to target the funding where it is needed most,” Chris Hipkins said.

Of this, over $2 million will support programmes designed specifically for Māori and Pacific students, while $17.4 million will help year 7-13 students in schools with greater proportions of young people facing socio-economic challenges to educational achievement, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“The Ministry of Education will expand existing community-led programmes across the motu that can target the specific needs of Māori and Pacific NCEA learners in their community,” Jan Tinetti said.

“Altogether, these community-led programmes will be able to help at least 2,245 year 11 to 13 Māori and Pacific learners get extra practical NCEA help during Term 4 this year.

“The Equity Index will be used to weight the rest of the funding, and schools will decide which students are offered the service, drawing on their knowledge of their own learners. The Ministry will also directly purchase additional tutoring and teaching for non-enrolled or at-risk students, to help support them to re-engage with schooling.

“In addition, 500 more Te Kura dual tuition summer school places are being added. This gives students in Years 11 and 12 more time to study over the 2022–2023 summer term to gain those all-important credits.

“The Government has confidence that through addressing teacher supply issues and improving students’ outcomes through additional learning resources, we will be able to address some of the inequities that have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are committed to ensuring all our tamariki receive the supports they need to overcome obstacles in their learning,” Jan Tinetti said.

These  notes were added to the press statement:

To boost overseas teacher supply we are:

      • Extending two grants – the Overseas Relocation Grant and Overseas Finders Fee – that compensate teachers and employers for the additional costs of immigrating or hiring abroad
      • Funding additional roles – in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Teaching Council and Education Payroll Limited – to speed up processing times for overseas teacher assessments. Funding is also being provided to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, so International Qualification Assessment Fees for migrant teachers can be waived.

To boost domestic teacher supply we are:

      • Increasing the number of Te Huawhiti | Career Changer Scholarships available, to support people to move into teaching
      • Funding 100 places in school-embedded Initial Teacher Education schemes that allow trainee teachers to be trained in schools while studying remotely
      • Expanding the Beginning Teacher Vacancy Scheme (BTVS) that connects beginning and returning teachers to teaching positions in schools with high need and incentivises them to stay in the role :

Southern polytech gears up for tutoring more students by translating automotive engineering material into te reo

The polytechnic sector has been getting a bad press in recent times.

Former Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker has demanded an apology from Education Minister Chris Hipkins for turning the country’s polytechnic education system into “a national disgrace”.

The Otago Daily Times has described the centralising of New Zealand’s 16 polytechnics into one grand organisation, Te Pukenga, as a “shambles”.

National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson and Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says polytechnics in the South are being forced to cut millions from their budgets because the Government’s mega-merger polytechnic entity Te Pūkenga is in such a mess,

Among the more disturbing reports, new data shows one-third of first year polytechnic students quit their studies last year and some qualifications were unable to retain any learners at all.

Across the country, 12,642 equivalent full-time students began courses at polytechnics last year, but 4124 – or 32.6% – dropped out , according to the figures released under the Official Information Act.

The 15 polytechnics that make up Te Pūkenga offered a total of 227 qualifications last year, but on 51 courses, at least half of all students quit. Continue reading “Southern polytech gears up for tutoring more students by translating automotive engineering material into te reo”

Why the Govt is on course to be given a “fail” mark for its work in our schools and polytechnics

Covid-19 was never going to be kind to the country’s education sector, especially when our school children were already sliding down the OECD rankings for literacy, maths and science and there was a lack of equity in terms of at-home and online learning.

But it’s hard  to look  at  the sector and  not  conclude   there  has  been  a  colossal  failure.

  • School  attendance rates  for  term 1 fell  below 50%.
  • The  polytechnic  mega merger  is  said  to be  unravelling at  pace.
  • The leaders of 10 regional principals’ associations say schools are at or near breaking point because of the stress of staff and student absences.  They have implored the government to reveal as soon as possible how it would help teens pass NCEA this year.

But  who  should be blamed?

Is  it  just  Covid   that  has  done the  damage?   Or  have  other  factors  been at  work? Continue reading “Why the Govt is on course to be given a “fail” mark for its work in our schools and polytechnics”

Free-thinking Chloe has gone out to bat for impoverished students – but inflation-fuelling govt spending needs to be bowled first

Chloe  Swarbrick   is  one  of  the  most  interesting  politicians  in  the New Zealand  Parliament, a  highly  effective  campaigner  who – after one  term as  a  List MP – won Auckland  Central  for  the  Green  Party.

Still  only 28,  she  is   already  seen  as  a  future   leader  of her  party.

This  week   she took up  the  cudgels  on  behalf  of students  and  gave  the  government  a  hammering.

She pointed  to new evidence showing that thousands of students are living in poverty, with many struggling to pay rent and put food on the table.

“Everyone in this country deserves to live a life of dignity. Our new research shows that’s a right denied to thousands of students. Political decisions over the last few decades have normalised and entrenched student poverty. This wasn’t an accident. It can be fixed,” says  Swarbrick  who  is Green Party spokesperson for tertiary education. Continue reading “Free-thinking Chloe has gone out to bat for impoverished students – but inflation-fuelling govt spending needs to be bowled first”

Tinetti’s teaser – to whom was she talking when she delivered a Moot Speech about teaching and truancy?

Our Beehive bulletin

Oh goody – a guessing game has been provided by the clever people who post announcements, speeches and what-have-you on the Beehive website.

It was delivered in the name of Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti – by her press secretary, perhaps? – in the form of a teasing headline.

Learning Support, Curriculum, Attendance – NZPF Moot Speech

NZPF?  Which one?

We put the challenge aside while checking out the other news from the Beehive,

  • Amelia Setefano and Marina McCartney have been selected as inaugural recipients of the Ministry of Education’s Tagaloa scholarship, which supports Pacific Doctorate and Masters study.
  • Three Auckland schools are benefitting from a $1.3 billion nationwide school redevelopment programme. May Road School, Onehunga Primary School and Albany Primary School are getting new classrooms to replace those in poor condition, and will benefit from investment in projects to support expected increases in student numbers.

And now to identifying the audience to whom Tinetti delivered her NZPF Moot Speech.

The possibilities (because you could say learning and attendance are involved in all of them) include:  Continue reading “Tinetti’s teaser – to whom was she talking when she delivered a Moot Speech about teaching and truancy?”

Update on the undermining of literacy – no honours for writers and the rundown of libraries

A pre-Christmas post headed New library boasts admirable resources – but don’t expect to find too many books raised concerns for Point of Order readers about New Zealanders’ reading habits and the rundown of public  libraries.

We quoted  Lloyd Jones, writing on The Spinoff news website about his first visit to the new library in Christchurch.  He said it has a “wonderful sound recording studio”, a sewing room and a  3D printer – but he found the books “herded into an area barely more generous than the space on the ground-floor allocated to teenagers and video games”.

Wellington’s central city library, closed as an earthquake risk in March last year, used to hold 380,000 books and have 3000 visitors, including 500 children, a day.

There is no schedule for reopening it or replacing it, but if that happens new mayor Andy Foster told the Dominion Post (Dec 4) he would like it to have “creative spots and activities such as Lego and 3D printing”.

Jones disagreed with Victoria University’s professor of library information and management studies, Anne Goulding, who said libraries were moving away from being storage places for books and “transactions to building relationships in the community”.

“A library is where people go to read,” Jones said. “A library is where they may borrow a book. A library is one of the most honourable and civic institutions that a community can accommodate and offer to its young.” Continue reading “Update on the undermining of literacy – no honours for writers and the rundown of libraries”

New library boasts admirable resources – but don’t expect to find too many books

by David Barber

“To read,” says Jim Flynn, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Otago University, “is to enter a magic realm in which people are more interesting, informed, amusing and intelligent than anyone you encounter in everyday life.”

It is a realm that half of New Zealand 15-year-olds never enter, according to the OECD’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa),  as reported by Radio NZ this week.

The survey reported that 52 per cent of students said they only read “if I have to””. Forty-three per cent said they do not read for enjoyment, 28 per cent never read non-fiction books and 18 per cent said they never read fiction.

It is not entirely a new situation.  Flynn made his bid to change it a decade ago with a book called The Torchlight List – Around the World in 200 Books. (Awa Press, 2010).

He wrote then that after more than half a century as a university lecturer one thing troubled him greatly. Continue reading “New library boasts admirable resources – but don’t expect to find too many books”

Head of the NZEI is proud of pay lift but principals are prickly on the parity issue

Cold, hard cash settled the teachers’ dispute, even though there  had  been many high-minded  claims  from the union  over  teachers    leaving  the  profession   because of the  stress of  the  job, and the lack of   classroom  support.

Even  in the wake of the settlement  some leaders   within the profession were wailing  the new  pay  scales  would do  little to  attract   fresh  talent into  the profession.

And let’s face it: that’s what NZ schools need.

There  are  still  enormous gaps  in the  education   system  between  high-performing  schools  and  those  at the  lower end of  the scale.  Critics say  standards  in  NZ schools   fall far below  those  in  advanced  economies  like   Singapore  and  Japan. Continue reading “Head of the NZEI is proud of pay lift but principals are prickly on the parity issue”