Hipkins’ rush to change education

Chris Hipkins was critical of the last Government’s ideological approach to education policy, but he seems to be trying to  fast track his education ideology.

The incoming government rushed in one education policy:

  • Make the first year of tertiary education or training fees free from January 1, 2018.

They were under pressure to do it in time for the new university year, and there has been criticism this week of unintended consequences: ‘Grossly inequitable’ fees-free warning from universities

Universities have warned fees-free study could push some students to apply for courses they are unlikely to pass.

Tension between the sector and the Labour-led Government over the flagship scheme is revealed in letters sent to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, now released to the Heraldunder the Official Information Act.

They include a warning universities will be forced to ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra funding to help meet an administrative “burden” accompanying the policy.

Hipkins has hit back – flatly rejecting any request for cash and saying the vast bulk of administration is done by the Tertiary Education Commission.

University of Auckland vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon wrote to Hipkins in December, in his capacity as chair of Universities NZ, the body that represents all eight universities, to warn of “a most unfortunate and no doubt unintended anomaly” of the fees-free policy.

And Hipkins has been criticised with his rush to scrap Partnership Schools, despite contracts being in place. It has been controversial within Labour with some Maori MPs supporting some Partnership Schools – before the election not Associate Minister of Education Kelvin threatened to resign if the schools were forced to close.

And from Stuff: Entire charter schools authorisation board to step down in protest

The entire board of trustees for New Zealand charter schools has announced it will step down, citing a lack of faith in the Government’s decision to abolish the model.

Hipkins has indicated a preference to close New Zealand’s 17 charter schools in their current form.

Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua board chair Catherine Isaac said she had advised Minister of Education Chris Hipkins the board would retire at the end of its current term on March 1.

Issac said the board’s members were committed to innovative education for “disadvantaged or marginalised children who are failing in the regular state school system” and believed the Government was not taking those children’s interests into account.

“We have made this decision because we do not wish to contribute to dismantling an initiative which we know is achieving so much for students, and for which there is great demand.”

Hipkins said Isaac told him about the board’s plans last month. He rejected claims the Government had neglected to consider students’ interests.

“We want minimum disruption for the students and are hopeful the outcomes will be positive.”

There are higher than normal risks when new systems are hurriedly implemented without time for consultation.

ODT editorial: The changing face of education

Education Minister Chris Hipkins seems determined to change the face of New Zealand education at every level, convinced he and his teacher union backers have the answers to questions yet to be asked.

Hot on the heels of his determination to rid New Zealand of the private charter schools, despite two of his Maori MP colleagues having ties to charter schools, Mr Hipkins has announced an ‘‘ambitious’’ three-year work programme for education.

Mr Hipkins says New Zealand has an education system to be proud of but as the way we work and live continues to rapidly change, so, too, do the demands on our education system.

Ministers should always be looking at changing how we do education in a rapidly changing world.

Over the next three years, it is possible to make significant progress in changing the education system to provide for all New Zealanders, he says.

The work programme includes the NCEA review, a review of Tomorrow’s Schools, developing a future-focused education workforce strategy, a continuous focus on raising achievement for Maori and Pasifika learners, an action plan for learning support, an early learning strategic plan and a comprehensive review of school property.

That’s a lot to try and do in three years.

New Zealand is not training the skilled tradespeople it needs to build Labour’s 10,000 houses a year or even plant New Zealand First’s billion trees, something it needs to do urgently.

However, the complete overhaul of the education system seems too much too soon. The review also includes a programme of change for vocational education, a full review of the Performance Based Research Fund and better support for the research aspirations of the tertiary sector.

There has been no indication from Mr Hipkins on the fate of elected boards of trustees but reports from Wellington indicate they will be disbanded under the review.

That would be a major change – and there is no sign of what might replace them.

Boards of trustees have a heavy workload but they do give parents direct representation on how their school operates. A return to central control of schools from an education authority or ministry will be a step backwards in democracy.

It is time for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Mr Hipkins to start becoming more open with their plans for education. Establishing any government task force inevitably means reaching a conclusion already formulated at the highest level.

If there is a plan, now is the time to reveal it. Rushing headlong into change just because Mr Hipkins is ideologically opposed to something a previous government implemented, is not the way to operate when it comes to education.

Hipkins obviously has an agenda, but is communicating poorly – and that may be deliberate.

Studies abound into why parts of the education system are failing. Perhaps it is time to start adopting some of the many recommendations that will already be floating around various departmental offices.

Labour has always marketed itself as a party of inclusion across race, age, gender and identity. The changes being proposed for education do not feel that way.

It will be far better for Mr Hipkins to concentrate on one significant project, allow open and uncensored feedback, see it through completely, measure its success, and move on carefully.

But Hipkins appears to be on a mission and does not seem to care for alternate views or genuine causes for concern.

 

45 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  February 25, 2018

    National’s rushed, ideologically-driven, ignore-the-advice-of-the-sector changes to education during their term caused Left wingers enormous anguish. They’re out, Labour’s in. Enjoy your turn, Righties!

    • What policies did National rush while ignoring advice?

      Regardless, poor practice from past governments is a not a good reason for poor practice from the current Government.

      • robertguyton

         /  February 25, 2018

        Charter Schools. National Standards. Were you deaf to the clamour from professionals, Pete? National were. Who, Pete, came in from outside to implement/insert National Standards, do you remember? And what happened to them?

  2. Blazer

     /  February 25, 2018

    there is alot to at least get started in 3 years,after 9 years of…treading water,and kicking the can down the road,when reform was urgently…needed.

    • robertguyton

       /  February 25, 2018

      With Bill English gone, Bulk Funding in whatever guise, might finally be dead. Praise the Lord!

      • robertguyton

         /  February 25, 2018

        National Standards and Charter Schools were both based of rubbish models. Nicely and quickly booted out by Labour. This bodes very well.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 25, 2018

          Quite so. Expecting achievement and allowing innovation and choice is now officially obsolete. Idiots nationwide rejoice.

          • robertguyton

             /  February 25, 2018

            National Standards didn’t foster improved achievement, they stigmatised failure, more often than not. There are, and already were, far better ways to measure and positively influence student achievement. National Standards were a dog and it’s been put down.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 25, 2018

              No; we shouldn’t have national standards in education although we have them in everything else. We might discover some people that we need to protect are doing a crap job.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              Hatred of teachers is zoo Right-wingy, Alan.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 26, 2018

              That’s as dumb as your average comment, Robert. Here’s a clue – there is a difference between a teacher and a union.

            • Robert Guyton

               /  February 26, 2018

              My comments are “dumb”, Alan?
              What’s with the personal insults? Is that at Right-wing thing?

          • duperez

             /  February 25, 2018

            AW, does expecting achievement and allowing innovation have to be legislated for? Because they are not prescribed means they don’t exist, can’t exist and are obsolete?
            Were there ever times teachers expected achievement from their charges and were allowed to innovate?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 26, 2018

              Were there ever times teachers expected achievement from their charges and were allowed to innovate?

              Yes, just not much in State schools, duperez. I recall one of our innovative teachers was not allowed to set an exam question that said: Set yourself a question and answer it.

              And the same teacher with another ran evening informal sessions where they could be innovative. My wife in South Africa was able to convince their teacher that if they finished the course work in half the year the students could organise the rest of the year to do and learn things they wanted.

        • Gezza

           /  February 25, 2018

          What is not nice work is having no relatively detailed plans for changes, risking throwing the whole sector, & parents, into confusion in the meantime.

          • robertguyton

             /  February 25, 2018

            Confusion? Eager anticipation, more like. National will scare-monger, of course, because it’s all they know. What they don’t know, is education.

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              In the absence of measurement no one “knows” education.

              That’s the point.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              There was already plenty of very good measurement in education, alloytoo, as the education professionals made very clear when National began their propaganda “war” against the teachers.

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              There are also education professionals who found the national standards useful despite it’s flaws (and many parents)

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              Some did, most didn’t. That’s not a ringing endorsement, alloytoo. Pleased to report though, the problem no longer exists; the Government has buffed National Standards out quick-as and is setting sail for better educational shores. The acted swiftly, didn’t they, with hardly any opposition, save the orchestrated tearing of hair and beating of breast from the National Party and her minions.

    • alloytoo

       /  February 25, 2018

      Sing from the same song sheet guys, either national treaded water for 9 years or they rammed through wholesale changes, make up your minds.

      I would hardly call 12 charter schools a wholesale change, nor would I call them treading water. 12 charter schools sounds like a cautious pilot/trial project of something new.

      • robertguyton

         /  February 25, 2018

        ” rammed through wholesale changes”
        Who said this, alloytoo?
        If no one here, your instruction to “sing from the same song sheet” is nonsense.

        • alloytoo

           /  February 25, 2018

          Robertguyton said “” rammed through wholesale changes”
          Who said this, alloytoo?
          If no one here, your instruction to “sing from the same song sheet” is nonsense.”

          You did Bob:

          “National’s rushed, ideologically-driven, ignore-the-advice-of-the-sector changes to education during their term caused Left wingers enormous anguish.”

          I merely paraphrased.

          • robertguyton

             /  February 25, 2018

            “I merely paraphrased (rather than accurately represented the words of someone else). “I merely paraphrased” is where forums like this fail. Assigning positions and statements to others is during a debate is a guarantee that time will be wasted, opportunity lost and corners mrerly painted a deeper blue or red (green too).
            “You did Bob”
            No I didn’t.

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              That’s why I quoted you the second time Bob.

              It supports my post just as well.

              If you wish to retract that statement feel free.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              I see. National dithered with most things but forced through a couple of pointless “favourites” of their own. Their time in Government was a backward step for New Zealand education, as evidenced by the slide in our international ratings. Now, thankfully, things are looking up!

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              So what you’re saying bob is that standards dropped by leaving the bulk of Labour’s flawed policies in place and that National should have been more aggressive with both National standards and Partnership schools instead of pandering to corrupt teacher’s unions.

              I agree.

              Disclaimer:
              Since you clearly don’t know what your position is as evidence by your inconsistence contradictory statements I decided to make your mind up for you. I won’t even charge you for the service.

            • duperez

               /  February 25, 2018

              alloytoo, you seem concerned that stuff is correct and suggest someone retract something you think not right.

              In that case maybe you’ll retract “corrupt” teacher’s [sic] unions or at least explain how they are corrupt.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              “So what you’re saying bob is”
              Stopped reading right there. Allytoo’s inability to present someone else’s position accurately means he should stick to giving summaries of his own position, not that of others. It’s a common fault in Right wing commenters.

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              @ Bob

              Sorry you don’t like the Newman tactic of paraphrasing. I assumed she was your hero.

              Luckily your direct quotes clearly illustrate your position hey.

            • alloytoo

               /  February 25, 2018

              @duperez

              I was employing a Cathy Newmanism. accuracy is neither important nor desirable.

              (even if I’m employing it for satirical purposes)

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  February 25, 2018

            You heard the headmistress on the news saying something like ‘Oh no, not again.’ to the news. I imagine that she is by no means in the minority, Teachers have enough to so as it is.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              One headmistress most certainly is a minority, Missy. Her comment though, probably owes more to her frustrations around National’s recent meddling than to this latest necessary repair proposed by Labour.
              “Teachers have enough to so as it is.”
              Say what?

            • robertguyton

               /  February 25, 2018

              Kitty ( is there a difference?)

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 25, 2018

              what ?

              There, I have said it.

              Toberr, you are a typomaniac ! 😦

              In the minority of people thinking it, of course.

  3. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  February 25, 2018

    The work programme includes the NCEA review, a review of Tomorrow’s Schools,

    Looks like Hipkins wants to change/overhaul the massive reforms introduced by LABOUR.
    Tomorrow’s Schools was David Lange’s baby….(1989)
    NCEA was rushed into place by the 5th Labour Government (2003).

    • alloytoo

       /  February 25, 2018

      What will he do if he gets a whole lot of answers he doesn’t like? (unlikely I know…..)

    • Blazer

       /  February 25, 2018

      you are correct,that does not mean that past folly/experiments that failed cannot be…rectified.

    • Gezza

       /  February 25, 2018

      Politically speaking, there’s no need for them to feel connected to past those past Labour administrations or to their policies.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 25, 2018

        Other than the fact Ardern is a protege of the Prime Minister who’s Government introduced NCEA and the current Government still contains ministers from that era. You are correct about the Lange Government though.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 25, 2018

      Maggy, I had forgotten that.

      Thank you !!!

      I realise that things need to be updated and corrected if they are wrong, but Labour seem to want change qua change.

    • robertguyton

       /  February 25, 2018

      Yes, the overhaul needs to be comprehensive. I’m pleased to see Hipkins isn’t being tribal and pruning only National’s out-dated stuff. This all sounds excellent, Mr Hipkins!

    • PartisanZ

       /  February 25, 2018

      @Maggy Wassileiff – “Tomorrow’s Schools was David Lange’s baby …. (1989). NCEA was rushed into place by the 5th Labour Government (2003).

      So … it takes 29 years for a good idea to get ‘tired’.

      And 15 years for a bad idea to get recognized and altered.

      That’s what we need, an education system that’s really responsive to change …

      and perhaps one that ISN’T – like so many other things – a political football?

  1. Hipkins’ rush to change education — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition