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?”

Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card

We intended alerting our readers (if they had not already noticed) to how Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins played the race card in the matter of the Public Service Commission deciding to look into the propriety of government contracts awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband.

We have taken a short cut and will draw attention, instead, to this post on Kiwiblog by David Farrar under the heading Hipkins apologises for smearing English.

Farrar references a report posted by Stuff  (which until now has studiously steered clear of the contracts and the questions about  procedural issues they have raised).

Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins has apologised in the House to former finance minister Sir Bill English for dragging his family into an exchange over government contracts awarded to the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Continue reading “Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card”

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 :

Hipkins is chuffed as more vaccine arrives – but is he immune from Seymour’s needling about the doses required in the year ahead?

It was as if the cavalry had come galloping in:   Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins enthused that the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule.

The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late in Auckland at the weekend.

Hipkins acknowledged how close the country had come to running out of the vaccine.  New Zealand had distributed nearly all of its supply of the Pfizer vaccine in storage, giving DHBs enough stock to last until Wednesday.

“The early arrival means no DHB will run out of vaccine. Teams have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccine doses have been getting to the right places to honour all existing appointments, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”

In another statement, this time as Minister of Education, Hipkins announced that yet another group of people was being exempt from the border rules that – we are led to believe – protect New Zealanders by carefully regulating who can come here and under what conditions.

The need for these rules being strictly applied becomes more acute when the vaccination programme is faltering. Continue reading “Hipkins is chuffed as more vaccine arrives – but is he immune from Seymour’s needling about the doses required in the year ahead?”

Lockdowns and the slow rollout of vaccines look likely to take their toll on the PM’s popularity

Is  the  smooth  run  for  the  Ardern  government  coming  to  an  end?  It  is  still  riding  high in the polls, but almost  imperceptibly the mood   appears   to be  changing.

Jacinda Ardern  may still be enjoying   a  status  few  other  prime  ministers  have attained but the fallibility  of  some of her ministers is coming  more  clearly  into  focus.

More  particularly, where  the government won so much kudos  in  its  response to   the Covid-19 pandemic, it  now  seems to  have lost its magic  touch.

Ardern herself appears  to be becoming  more defensive, pulling  out of her regular slot  on the Mike Hosking ZB  programme.

The latest  lockdowns  accentuated the  hardship  inflicted  on  business, particularly in Auckland, and   the  rollout  of  the Covid vaccination programme  has  been disappointingly  slow. Continue reading “Lockdowns and the slow rollout of vaccines look likely to take their toll on the PM’s popularity”

Recruitment rules for teachers are being relaxed because they don’t rate as highly at the border as film crews and yachties

The Government says it is “changing its approach to teacher recruitment” as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue,” by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching”.

It sounds like this means the bar for entry into the teacher profession.

Announcing this today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins recalled the Ardern government  – on taking office – was faced with “a teacher supply crisis”.

A shortage of teachers, in other words. 

Over the past three years, $135 million has been pumped into “a range of teacher supply initiatives” (or initiatives to recruit more teachers).

These include hiring teachers from overseas and Hipkins notes that teachers were given the biggest pay rises in a decade “to ensure that we have high-quality teachers in our classrooms”.

How lowering the bar for entry not result in the quality being lowered too is a matter for conjecture. Continue reading “Recruitment rules for teachers are being relaxed because they don’t rate as highly at the border as film crews and yachties”

Apologies galore from the errant Shaw – but what about an apology to the taxpayer?

James  Shaw  has  set  a   new   standard  for  ministerial  conduct  in  the  way he has  performed over  the  allocation  of  $11.7m  of  taxpayer money  for a  privately-owned  Green  school in Taranaki.

The Green School was one of 150 projects getting a grant from a $3bn fund— the shovel-ready infrastructure fund – and Shaw was willing to put them all at risk.

An email  to government ministers and the Treasury from Shaw’s office included a stark ultimatum:

“Minister Shaw won’t sign this briefing until the Green School in Taranaki is incorporated”. Continue reading “Apologies galore from the errant Shaw – but what about an apology to the taxpayer?”

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”

Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to a fresh batch of handouts from the public purse, reminding us that the Provincial Growth Fund isn’t the only trough in the capital.

Fair to say, in the case of Education Minister Chris Hipkin, the press statement which triggered the trough monitor related to the government’s spending on tertiary fees in the past year.

The statement was deftly crafted to camouflage the cost to taxpayers.  Rather, it brayed that first-year students have been spared the repayment burden that would have resulted from hundreds of millions of dollars in loan borrowing.

On the other hand, Winston Peters unabashedly has announced fresh handouts from a fund in his Racing ministerial bailiwick and encouraged racing clubs to apply for a place at the next serving from this trough. Continue reading “Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs”

Budget surpluses are Robertson’s aim but well-being pressures will test his prowess

Finance  Minister Grant Robertson has headed for Washington for the spring meetings of the  IMF  and  World Bank,  as  well as  for  talks   with other   finance  ministers  and  senior  US  government  officials.

Despite  the darkening cloud  on the global  economy   Robertson  is  gung-ho  about the  state of the  NZ  economy,  although  he   concedes that, as an outward-facing export nation,

“ … NZ is not immune to this global uncertainty, and we have to bear that in mind as we transition to a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy”.

In  Parliament  before   his  departure for  Washington  he cited reports which indicate the NZ economy continues to out-perform its international peers.  Continue reading “Budget surpluses are Robertson’s aim but well-being pressures will test his prowess”