National’s Luxon may be glum about his poll ratings but has he found a winner in promising to raise scholastic achievement?

National Party leader Christopher Luxon may  be feeling glum about his poll ratings, but  he could be tapping  into  a rich political vein in  describing the current state of education as “alarming”.

Luxon said educational achievement has been declining,  with a recent NCEA pilot exposing just how far it has fallen: a staggering two-thirds of students are unable to meet the minimum standard in reading, writing and maths.

“National will not allow this to continue. National will make sure every child leaving primary and intermediate school can master the basics so they can succeed at high school and lead fulfilling lives,” he said.

This is  something that will resonate  with parents. It follows last  week’s  strike by tens of thousands of teachers who were demanding – wait for it – better pay and conditions.  In  forcing the closure of schools across the country, the  teachers  had apparently  little  concern  for the plight of their pupils.

For  some time   it has been evident that  standards in state schools  have been slipping.  Blaming it on Covid is too simplistic. Continue reading “National’s Luxon may be glum about his poll ratings but has he found a winner in promising to raise scholastic achievement?”

Letter to the NZ Herald: NCEA pseudoscience – “Mauri is present in all matter”

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  • Nick Matzke writes –  

Dear NZ Herald,

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. I teach evolutionary biology, but I also have long experience in science education and (especially) political attempts to insert pseudoscience into science curricula in the USA.

I just read the NZ Herald article on mātauranga Māori and NCEA: How mātauranga Māori is being rolled out in schools, Rangi Mātāmua explains the knowledge system.

Unfortunately, I think the NZ Herald is uncritically repeating an overly rosy take from NCEA and the Ministry of Education. At least amongst scientists and science teachers, there has actually been a huge controversy over the NCEA Level 1 Chemistry & Biology draft curriculum. Continue reading “Letter to the NZ Herald: NCEA pseudoscience – “Mauri is present in all matter””

Tinetti goes back to school after her truancy numbers are questioned in Parliament

Buzz from the Beehive

Education Minister Jan Tinetti no doubt welcomed the opportunity to go back to school after being tested on a few portfolio issues at Question Time in Parliament.

She popped up at Puketapu School in Napier yesterday to say the Government would repair and rebuild damaged education infrastructure, and to praise local education heroes

… who went to great lengths to restart education services for children and young people as quickly as possible in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

She also showed she knows how to highlight numbers that might win favourable publicity:

  • All but six schools and kura have reopened for onsite learning
  • All students in the six closed schools or kura are being educated in other schools, online, or in alternative locations
  • Over 4,300 education hardpacks distributed to support students
  • Almost 38,000 community meals provided by suppliers of the Ka Ora Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches programme
  • Student loan living support payments continued through special approval for students in Cyclone-affected areas.

Continue reading “Tinetti goes back to school after her truancy numbers are questioned in Parliament”

Graham Adams: Hipkins’ stealth revolution in education

  • Graham Adams writes – 

The PM’s tenure as Minister of Education has given NZ school students a racialised and unbalanced curriculum.

Even if Chris Hipkins is no longer the Prime Minister after October’s election, his legacy will be locked in for some time.

Chances are it won’t be on account of his role as Prime Minister over the next seven months — or his time as Minister of Police, Minister for Covid-19 Response, Minister for the Public Service, or his brief period as Minister of Health.

It will mainly be the result of his five years as Minister of Education.

Hipkins may, in fact, not even have been the principal architect of the stealthy revolution that has occurred on his watch but it will be seen as his legacy nevertheless because formal power over the education portfolio rested with him from 2017 until he became Prime Minister in January.

Over those years, Hipkins and his ministry have given the nation’s schoolchildren a radical (“decolonised”) history curriculum, which teachers throughout the country have begun implementing this term. “Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories” is now compulsory for schools from Years 1-10, with the subject optional in Years 11-13.

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 :

McAnulty mentions the important role played by indigenous people in emergency response and recovery – but USA seems unaware

Buzz from the Beehive

Some ministers commemorated historical events in the latest press statements from the Beehive  while others pointed to New Zealand’s role in the space age and to technological developments around the digital economy and data storage in the cloud.

Three statements were related to events in the past – a speech by the PM to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa,  an expression of condolence after the death of the last-surviving Battle for Crete veteran, and the commemoration of the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima 77 years ago.

Two statements were focused on technological developments with implications for the future – the welcoming of Google Cloud’s decision to make New Zealand a cloud region and the advising of an agreement signed between the New Zealand and United States governments which opens new opportunities for our space sector and closer collaboration with NASA.

Law and order, broadly, were covered by another three statements.  Two of these drew attention to bills that have been enacted, one to combat firearms violence, the other to repeal the ‘Three Strikes’ law. Continue reading “McAnulty mentions the important role played by indigenous people in emergency response and recovery – but USA seems unaware”

Yes, the speed limit (on one stretch of our roads) has been lifted but Wood must do much more to rate with Bob Semple

Buzz from the Beehive

Transport  Minister Michael  Wood   has been  busy  beating   his drum  over  the  move  to lift  the  speed  limit on the Waikato Expressway to  110km/h, between Hampton Downs and Tamahere.

He  points  out that the Waikato Expressway is a key transport route for the Waikato region, connecting Auckland to the agricultural and business centres of the central North Island.  The features making it safer for travelling at higher speeds include having at least two lanes in each direction, a central median barrier, and no significant curves.

His press statement was among those to flow from the Beehive since Point of Order’s previous Buzz, including news of further support for Ukraine:

  • $4.5 million to provide Ukraine with additional non-lethal equipment and supplies such as medical kit for the Ukrainian Army
  • Deployments extended for New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) intelligence, logistics and liaison officers in the UK, Germany, and Belgium
  • Secondment of a senior New Zealand military officer to support International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations, and additional funding to the ICC, including the Trust Fund for Victims.

Continue reading “Yes, the speed limit (on one stretch of our roads) has been lifted but Wood must do much more to rate with Bob Semple”

Follow the money: matauranga Maori and the millions at stake

A lot of funding and influence is riding on the successful casting of indigenous knowledge as equal to science. GRAHAM ADAMS says the debate over the NCEA science syllabus is only the tip of an iceberg.

Anyone trying to get a grip on the mātauranga Māori debate over the past several months is likely to be completely puzzled by now.

The incendiary stoush was sparked last July by seven eminent professors stating in a letter to the Listener that indigenous knowledge is not science and therefore does not warrant inclusion in the NCEA syllabus as being equal to science.

Yet in the five months since the letter was published, virtually no one among those opposing the professors has argued convincingly that mātauranga Māori is scientific (even if some small elements of it could be called proto-science or pre-science).

On the face of it, the debate by now should have been declared a clear win for the professors and their supporters.   In rebuttal, their principal critics — including the Royal Society NZ, Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, the Tertiary Education Union and prominent Covid commentators Drs Siouxsie Wiles and Shaun Hendy — have not gone beyond asserting that  mātauranga Māori is a valuable and unique system of knowledge that is complementary to science.

This view is not contentious in the slightest — and was explicitly endorsed by the professors themselves in their letter. Continue reading “Follow the money: matauranga Maori and the millions at stake”

Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening

A bemusing press statement  flowed this morning from the office of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta on the highly contentious matter of “three waters reforms”.

Under these reforms, the country’s 67 local and regional councils’ drinking, waste and storm water assets would be taken over and administered by four large regional entities, each of which would include iwi leaders with extraordinary co-governing powers.

In return, the government would pay for billions of dollars’ worth of much-needed infrastructure and repairs.

But as the NZ Herald noted two days ago

“… mayors up and down the country are far from convinced, with major reservations about losing local control over such vital assets.”

That report said Mahuta may allow for more council influence in the contentious water reforms,

“… but still refuses to rule out changing the law to force councils to sign up.” Continue reading “Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening”

Govt pours more millions into race-focused responses to Covid-19 and launches a Maori Communications Portal

The Government is pouring more money into race-focused initiatives to help Maori and Pacifika people as it responds to Covid-19 and strives to boost vaccination rates.  A new one landed in Point of Order’s email  in-tray as we were preparing this post.

It came from Kelvin Davis, Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, and Peeni Henare, Minister for Whānau Ora.

The headline on the press statement summed it up: Government increases whānau support for COVID-19 response

This support amounts to –

  • An immediate boost of $8.816 million to the three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies to continue to provide direct and integrated support to hard-to-reach families “with complex and overlapping needs”.
  • A further $14.216 million will be distributed based on need as information on the impact of the current change in alert levels unfolds. This will support the work of Whānau Ora providers to meet the increased community need for support and services, including accessing vaccinations, testing and self-isolating spaces.
  • The Ministry of Social Development is making a $2 million fund immediately available to partner with Maori tribes responding to critical unmet needs.  This fund recognises “the potential for emerging need”, particularly in areas which may not have access to other forms of support during higher alert levels, said Sepuloni.
  • Funding of $1 million, from the COVID-19 Response and Resilience Fund will be available to support tribal community responses and assist them to update pandemic response plans to take into account the new reality of the Delta variant.

Other recent press statements advised us – Continue reading “Govt pours more millions into race-focused responses to Covid-19 and launches a Maori Communications Portal”