Government late addressing teacher shortages

The Government is suddenly trying to address severe teacher shortages.

NZ Herald:  Overseas teacher recruitment drive doubles

The Government has more than doubled its target for recruiting overseas teachers to fill a shortfall of 850 teachers next year.

Only three weeks after the Ministry of Education announced a target of recruiting 400 overseas teachers by the start of next year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has raised the target for 2019 to 900.

He has allocated an extra $10.5 million, on top of $29.5m earmarked last December, for a package of measures including:

• More overseas relocation grants of up to $5000 for immigrants and $7000 for returning Kiwis, plus $3000 to cover the school’s recruitment costs.

A new grant to encourage schools to employ newly graduated NZ teachers. At present only 80 per cent of new graduates get teaching jobs despite the teacher shortage.

• Expanding the current short-term policy of free refresher courses for teachers returning to teach after an absence so it can also be used by overseas teachers to meet certification requirements with the Teaching Council. Teachers required to repeat or re-sit aspects of the programme will also have their fees waived.

• Changes to the criteria to enable more schools to appoint unregistered teachers as teachers with “limited authority to teach” in a specified subject or area.

• Additional funding for agencies to process more overseas teacher applications.

Hipkins said new analysis by the Ministry of Education showed that 650 extra primary teachers and 200 extra secondary teachers would be needed in 2019 to meet a rising level of demand, driven mainly by a forecast growth in the number of students in schools.

NZ Herald: Schools doubt new goal of recruiting 900 overseas teachers

Schools say a new package to recruit more teachers is too late for the next school year and won’t be able to attract the target of 900 overseas teachers.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the new grants “will be targeted where there are shortages of teachers in some subjects and locations”.

However Auckland Secondary School Principals Association chairman Richard Dykes said eligibility criteria for the new grant would not be available until November, which would be too late to have much impact on recruitment for the new school year.

“It’s great to see the Government doing something, but it’s really frustrating that it’s taken until this late in the year to do it, because the impact is going to be very limited,” he said.

“It would have been extremely useful in July when I was busy trying to get skilled teachers to come into Auckland.

“To say I’m not going to find out about this until November is just not good enough, for goodness sake! It’s too late.”

It does seem ridiculously late in the year to try and get more teachers from overseas.

Chris Hipkins on Q+A last night:


Hipkins to take parental leave from Parliament

Not long ago Jacinda Ardern took leave from Parliament when she had her baby. Winston Peters took over as acting Prime Minister for eight weeks (and things seemed to tick over ok).

A week ago Green MP and Minister Julie Anne Genter had a baby and is currently on leave.

So it shouldn’t be a big deal that Chris Hipkins has announced that he will take four weeks parental leave when his second child is ‘born’ (by C-section).

This is the first time a male Minister has taken baby time out to this degree (I’m sure Ministers will have taken a bit of time out when babies have been born).

NZH:  Education Minister Chris Hipkins plans to take parental leave from Beehive for baby No. 2

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is planning to take up to four weeks paternity leave after the birth of his next baby at the end of the month.

“The main priority really will be to support the baby’s mum because the baby will be born by C-section”.

That means being around to do the heavy lifting, quite literally the heavy lifting.”

The baby will be the second for Hipkins and partner Jade.

He will also be spending time looking after the couple’s first child, Charlie, who turns two in October.

Hipkins says he already spends quality time with Charlie every morning with him, getting him up, having breakfast together and dropping him at day care.

The new baby will be subject to the same publicity regime as Charlie, who has no public photos, including on Face Book.

Hipkins: “I want him to be able to grow up like a normal Kiwi kid and I want him to have his own space to grow up and be a kid and not be public property. I accept that I am public property. That doesn’t mean that my family are.”

Hipkins will continue to be paid his ministerial salary – as Jacinda Ardern was when she took time off. There is no mechanism to stop MPs’ pay and they are not eligible for the ordinary paid parental leave scheme.

MPs are lucky that they can take time out for their families.

Hipkins has a heavy workload as:

  • Minister of Education
  • Minister of Ministerial Services
  • Minister of State Services
  • Leader of the House

Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin will pick up most of Hipkins’ education work. Iain lee-Galloway will take over Leader of the House duties. And State Services and Ministerial Services will be farmed out to others.

He was also given extra responsibilities after Clare Curran removed from Cabinet ten days ago:

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins will take back the Open Government responsibilities which were delegated to Hon Curran.

“The CTO appointment process is in its final stages. Minister Curran will have no further involvement in it and State Services Minister Hipkins will take over that process and finalise the details of the appointment and the implementation of the CTO role.

“Minister Hipkins has asked the State Services Commission to take a look at the CTO appointment process to ensure it has been robust, and that the meeting between Ms Curran and Mr Handley had no bearing on the process or outcome. The SSC will report back next week before the appointment process is concluded.

The CTO appointment should be dealt with by next month when Hipkins plans to take leave.

Open Government responsibilities may be put on hold. It shouldn’t make much difference, ‘open government’ was a bit of a joke under Curran.

Ardern taking leave showed that no Minister is indispensable – others should be able to take over when anyone needs to be absent.

It has happened before due to illness. In September 2016 then Minister Nikki Kaye took several months leave from Parliament to be treated for breast cancer. She resumed duties in early 2017.

Taking a few weeks off work is a privilege for MPs, many ordinary people are not in financial or employment situations that are so generous.

But it is a sign of more sensible times when MPs and ministers can take time off when they have children, whether they be male or female.

Q+A: Chris Hipkins on reforming the public service

Minister of Education (and Minister of a bunch of other things) was interviewed on Q+A last night, about various wage claims and about the public service overall – he said that they will be talking more over the next few weeks about a programme aimed at reforming the public service so it delivered better outcomes for New Zealanders.

Hipkins was asked whether the announcement that performance pay for public service CEOs would be scrapped was a signal to  nurses seeking pay rises. He said it was a separate policy that had been worked on for some time.

He says they are focussed pay equity claims. The Government wants to see wage restraint “at the top end of the system”, but want to deal with issues for people on low incomes on people – “at the worker end”.

Hipkins didn’t want to get into the detail on negotiations under way with teachers, who are asking for a 16% increase. They are not exactly at the low end as far as wages go.

Bargaining with secondary teachers is just beginning and he acknowledges that their expectations are high, but quickly diverted to other issues facing teachers.

Challenged on expectations after their election campaigning he says they are offering much more than the previous Government did (it much different economic circumstances), and then diverts again – “we made a very clear commitment that we could do better than the last Government, and i believe we are doing better than the last Government, but our commitment during the campaign was crystal clear, that our first priority would be those on the lowest incomes, and in the school system that’s people like teacher aides, we’ve got a pay equity claim there that we’re working on.

But the priority for nurses was their own wages. Same for primary teachers. Neither can be classed as low wage earners. Especially if they get the increases they are seeking they will be above average earners.

When challenged that teacher claims were not a priority Hipkins said that no, they were ‘a priority’. So ‘priority’ seems to be a fairly broad term here.

Asked about dropping state sector performance pay, in relation to teachers, this meant that poor performers will paid the same as good performers.

Hipkins: The changes their recognise that actually good outcomes require a team effort. In all public services delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders is a team effort, and therefore singling one or two people out and giving them significant bonuses doesn’t reflect the fact that actually many people contribute to that outcome.

Dann: Are your Government sending a message to the state sector, teachers, people who work for the Government, that they’ve almost got to have a sense of civil duty here, that there’s a civil service, you’re doing it for the love of it. That’s got to be a part of it doesn’t it?

Hipkins: It’s in the name. It’s public service. We do expect it to be public service.

Security of employment and pay rates suggests that being a public servant can be a pretty good deal compared to many workers in the private sector.

Dann: When you’re on four hundred grand or something running a state sector, that’s ah, that’s little bit more than just doling it for the love of it isn’t it?

Hipkins: Look, people at the senior end of the public service are well paid, and we’ve been very clear um that our priority…

Dann: Is it too much? I mean in general if could’ve gone back nine years you wouldn’t be paying them this much, would you.

Hipkins: Well I wouldn’t have wanted to see the big growth in chief executive salaries that we’ve seen over the last nine years…we start from the position that we’ve removed the performance that is going to result in a downward dip in chief executive’s overall package.

Following the team player thing, should principals, teachers and teacher aids all be paid similar amounts in providing a public service?

Hipkins: I’m not at all concerned that that we’re not going to be able to recruit very very good public service leaders because of the changes we’ve made to remove the bonuses.

A political neutral public service:

Hipkins: The Government as a whole has got an absolute commitment to a politically neutral public service. We think that the public service should be able to serve us as a Government, and whomever the next Government is.

On reforming the public service:

Hipkins: We’ve got a very broad public sector reform programme which we’re going to be talking a bit more about in the next few weeks. It is about reforming the public service. It is about focussing on delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders.

Pushed on Shane Jones’ comments on being able to appoint his own ‘shit-kickers’ to get what he wants done.

Hipkins: I think the Government as a whole isn’t going to go down the route of politicising the senior level of public the service.

Dann: Is there scope for Jones’ suggestion in specific cases under this new reform you’re talking about.

Hipkins: Well there’s already some scope to do that within the existing system.

Dann: More scope?

Hipkins: Look, we’ll work our way through that.

Dann: You seem to be suggesting to me that it’s possible because you’re not wanting to answer this question.

Hipkins: Well no, what I’m saying is we’re going too keep a politically neutral public service. That’s beyond debate. Ministers can appoint purchase advisers for example within their ministerial offices whop will provide them with free and frank advice, give them an alternative stream of advice. They can go to the treasury for example and get alternative advice to the ones supplied by their department. All of those things are possible now.

Getting advice is quite different from shit kicking to get things done the way the Minister wants. Hipkins has avoided answering on that.

What’s the key thrust of the reforms?

Hipkins: What we’re focussed on is moving the public service from a working in silos to actually looking at working across public service and saying if we want to deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders that’s going to require Government departments to work together rather than just focussing on their own individual patch.

It could be quite a challenge trying to break down public servant patch protection.

Hipkins: The concept that I’d talk about is ‘no wrong door’. If someone’s interacting with the public service i think they get frustrated when they say well no, actually you’ve got to deal with that department, then you’ve got to deal with that department and they’re given the run around.

We don’t want tot see that. Actually I want to see the public service operating as a coordinated whole, to deliver the services that New Zealanders…

Dann: It sounds quite radical.

Hipkins: I think it will see some significant changes.

Reforming the public service to work more as a whole team sounds like quite a challenge.

Government challenged by teacher strikes

Jacinda Ardern criticised teachers for striking ‘too soon’, rearranged her diary in order to speak to a crowd of protesting teachers at Parliament, but one response from teachers was to follow up with a two day strike to keep the pressure on the Government.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, long a champion of teachers’ unions, seems out of his comfort zone under ‘friendly’ fire. Gezza commented:

From the comments he made in a sound bite on 1ewes last night, Hipkins sounded very disappointed and annoyed with the teachers at their protest outside Parliament that day, as though they were an ungrateful lot, and wondered if his testy attitude in this exchange showed that, while Ardern can hack it, he was feeling the pressure !

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern changes her mind, and meets teachers at Parliament

Jacinda Ardern watched the thousands of teachers “streaming” to Parliament to protest pay and conditions and decided she had to address them.

The prime minister had said this morning she was unavailable to meet the thousands of striking primary and intermediate teachers, but would be sending senior ministers.

But Ardern appeared, unscheduled, alongside Education Minister Chris Hipkins at the march and asked them for more time to solve their concerns

The education minister addressed the large crowd, acknowledging the tough decision many had made to be there.

“They are raising some raising some serious and legitimate concerns beyond pay to things like workload and the conditions they face in their schools.

“While he said the Government was listening “very carefully” to educators and their plight, however fronting additional money remained off the table.”

“I would prefer if we spent some time around the negotiating table working through all of the issues that teachers have raised before they start talking about more strike action.”

I’m sure Hipkins would prefer talking in private to teacher unions – this is just the opening round from primary school teachers, with secondary teachers likely to be lining up too for substantial pay rises.

Primary teachers are asking for a 16% increase.

Ardern tried to get onside ny playing the ‘care about children’ card:

Ardern said her motivation in politics was the welfare of children, the same thing that motivated most teachers.

“I don’t see them and us, I just see us.”

There is very much a them and us over wage negotiations.

Tracy Watkins: Will she, won’t she? PM Jacinda Ardern’s political gamble with teachers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to front the teacher unions as they marched on Parliament was supposedly a last minute change of heart.

She had earlier told Stuff she would not be available. But apparently Ardern was moved by the sight of thousands of people streaming through Parliament’s gate.

As a political gesture to placate some of those teachers, parents, and supporters who descended on Parliament to voice their anger, it probably worked.

But Ardern’s appeal to them as fellow members of a common cause may have jarred with some as a case of the Government talking out of both sides of its mouth.

Reading the placards, Ardern reminded the marchers she sympathised with their intent  – even while the Government has been talking tough on the teachers demands.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has all but labelled the teacher play claims as unreasonable and Ardern stoked the fires on Wednesday when she implied in an interview with Stuff that teachers had been too precipitous in launching strike action after just one round of negotiations.

But Ardern’s attempt to sweet talk the teachers doesn’t seem to have worked.

NZH: Teachers look for new pay offer to avert further strike

Primary teachers are looking for a new offer from the Government to stave off a potential two-day strike after a successful first strike today.

NZ Educational Institute lead negotiator Liam Rutherford said the union was willing to negotiate when it meets Ministry of Education officials again on Thursday and Friday next week, but it expected the ministry to give some ground.

“It’s the job of the ministry to bring an offer that they think is going to be addressing our issues to the table,” he said.

“We are going to be hoping that the effect of having 30,000 teachers and parents in support out on the street will have led to some movement.”

He said the union’s strategy had been led by the members, who wanted to strike because they were frustrated by the ministry’s “insulting” first offer.

“It was the teachers of this country that asked to turn a proposed half-day strike into a full-day strike,” he said.

Now they are talking of a follow-up two day strike.

It’s usually quite easy for Ardern and Hipkins to brush off attacks from their political Opposition, but this friendly fire from teachers could be somewhat more challenging for them.

Ardern’s championing of children in particular make things difficult, with teachers claiming that their pay claims are necessary for the good of the children.

Speaking at the protest yesterday may have had a temporary calming effect, but teachers seem to be on a mission regardless.

As an aside, a teacher playing the baby card – or more accurately. Using family of a politician in a campaign, was probably inevitable given the attention that has been given to Ardern’s baby…

…but this is a troubling sign.

Ardern showed her mettle, Bridges ineffective

Simon Bridges tried to attack Jacinda Ardern over the teacher strikes in Question Time in Parliament yesterday, but waas largely ineffective as Ardern showed her mettle and not only frustrated Bridges attacks, but returned fire adeptly.

There was a side show during the questioning, with Bridges being required to withdraw and apologise after a remark “I was anticipating an answer from the ventriloquist” that referred to Grant Robertson’s habit of helping fellow ministers with answers.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins was also ordered to withdraw and apologise a second time after first saying “I apologise for calling the Leader of the Opposition a chauvinistic pig”.

NZ Herald: Simon Bridges called ‘chauvinistic pig’ during Question Time by Education Minister Chris Hipkins

National leader Simon Bridges was accused of being a “chauvinistic pig” in today’s Question Time for a quip he made during questions to Prime Minister Ardern.

The accusation was not from Ardern herself but from another bloke, Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who took umbrage when Bridges suggested that muttering by Grant Robertson was supplying Ardern with the answers.

Bridges referred to Robertson as “the ventriloquist,” a reference to the frequency with which Robertson actually does answer other people’s questions under his breath.

It was an odd  comment from Hipkins, I don’t see anything chauvinistic in what Bridges said. Gerry Brownlee put his own spin on it” I think what the Leader of the Opposition was doing was suggesting to Grant Robertson that this is not instruction time.”

But Ardern had the last word:

The Minister of Finance, for those who are interested in what he muttered, said, “We didn’t.” I’m going to expand substantially on that answer…

Which she did. going on to detail the Government’s priorities in education.

2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is she aware that, under her Government, 60,000 people have been on strike in just 10 months, compared to 30,000 in the previous nine years?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely acknowledge that because that Government couldn’t resolve the nurses pay dispute, we did have a situation we needed to resolve. And it took this Government doubling that offer that that party last made in office, acknowledging the legitimate safety concerns that nurses had, the understaffing and under-resourcing, and that is how we got to a successful resolution after nine long years of neglect.

Hon Simon Bridges: With teachers contemplating two-day strikes, does she intend to spend the next two years avoiding any responsibility and not actually fixing the problem? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Settle down please.

Hon Paula Bennett: A good question—a bloody good question.

Mr SPEAKER: Paula Bennett—that’s a warning. I call the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have to say I find that line of questioning a bit rich given that the first offer made by this Government is double what that last Government allowed teachers to work under. Double—because we acknowledge that we’ve been left and teachers have been left carrying a neglect of nine years’ under-resourcing of teacher-aides and support. We’ve rectified some of that in the last Budget. We scrapped national standards. We doubled some of the funding that they receive on an operational level. We acknowledge the issues that teachers striked and marched on today. We are working with them to fix the problems we inherited.

Hon Simon Bridges: Then why did her Government prioritise $2.8 billion for a fees-free tertiary policy that isn’t delivering any extra students over additional funding for teachers’ pay and the other issues she mentioned?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: First of all, that is not correct. Second of all, one of the issues that we have is barriers to learning. One of the first people I met after that announcement was made was someone who was entering into tertiary education to be a primary school teacher off the back of our announcement. We have a shortage of teachers. We have barriers to learning because of cost. We’re addressing both of those issues.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Just to get this patently clear, what term or years of recent politics were the teachers today on the forecourt of Parliament specifically saying they are protesting against?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The last nine years.

Hon Simon Bridges: I ask again: why did her Government prioritise $2.8 billion for a fees-free tertiary policy that isn’t delivering any extra students over additional funding for teachers’ pay? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Prime Minister will sit down. I saw what I’m taking to be a response—am I right?

Hon Simon Bridges: From me?

Mr SPEAKER: Was the member responding to a similar—Well, I’m hearing some people saying yes and some people saying no.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Gerry Brownlee will, I’m sure, help me.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Thank you. I think what the Leader of the Opposition was doing was suggesting to Grant Robertson that this is not instruction time.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I ask—first of all I’m going to ask the Hon Grant Robertson: did he do a finger-pointing exercise?

Hon Members: No.

Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I’ll hear Simon Bridges.

Hon Simon Bridges: I was anticipating an answer from the ventriloquist.

Mr SPEAKER: Right, that member will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Simon Bridges: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Chris Hipkins: c

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Mr Hipkins. Mr Hipkins will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Chris Hipkins: I apologise for calling the Leader of the Opposition a chauvinistic pig.

Mr SPEAKER: As a result of that non-withdrawal, the Opposition will have an extra five questions. That withdrawal will now be made in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Hon Chris Hipkins: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Right, we go back, and I am going to ask Simon Bridges to ask his question again, because I can’t remember what it was.

Hon Simon Bridges: Then why did her Government prioritise $2.8 billion for a fees-free tertiary policy that hasn’t delivered a single extra student over additional funding for teachers’ pay?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Minister of Finance, for those who are interested in what he muttered, said, “We didn’t.” I’m going to expand substantially on that answer, because in the last Budget we prioritised funding for 1,500 more teachers. We gave a 45 percent increase for operational funding. We provided the first core early childhood education funding increase in nearly a decade. We tripled learning support funding to $272 million. That is called prioritising education. It’s called prioritising children. If that side of the House thinks that everything that was brought to Parliament’s forecourt today was all about us, then where were they on the steps of Parliament?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the fees-free tertiary policy uptake show some positive recent trends, and if so, could she leak that information to the House?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, indeed it does. We have seen an increase in uptake, and one of the issues we have is we inherited a declining enrolment across our tertiary education providers, which we are turning around.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why on Monday did her Government prioritise hundreds of millions of dollars more funding for new trees than it has for the entire primary school teacher wage settlement?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I say, that pay settlement happened to be double what that Government invested in the sector. But I’d also say that that announcement wasn’t just about the 1,000, possibly 2,000, jobs that it would create; it was also about the environment and it was about erosion. According to some of the ads the National Party has put out—I’m told the Leader of the Opposition cares about the environment; I’m yet to see any proof of it.

Hon Simon Bridges: That’s allowed is it?

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, it is allowed in response to the type of questions that the Leader of the Opposition’s been asking.

Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What was anything other than straight about the question I asked?

Mr SPEAKER: I suggest that if the member wants an answer to that, he looks at the tapes.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why on Monday did her Government prioritise hundreds of millions of dollars more for trees than for the primary school teachers’ settlement, when they’re protesting outside today?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I pointed out, that initial offer—because we are in the middle of a negotiation—was still double what that last Government put into teachers’ salaries. It’s not the only issue that we of course are discussing with them; we’re discussing their workload, non-contact time, professional development—all issues that weren’t prioritised by the last Government.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she agree with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who said, “We will not” have national strikes under a Government she leads.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That was in a direct question around fair pay agreements and I stand by it.

Ardern absolutely overdone

Quotes from Jacinda Ardern in Parliament’s question time on Tuesday:

Hon Chris Hipkins: Does the Prime Minister think it is tenable for the Government to threaten to cut funding for universities when they make decisions that the Government disagrees with?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Absolutely not.


Rt Hon Winston Peters: Regarding the international influence upon New Zealand’s economy, is the Prime Minister encouraged by all of a sudden the number of highly-placed European Union officials and representations with respect to a free-trade deal with the European Union?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Absolutely.


Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept the collapse of multiple construction companies to be a reality for those businesses, their workers, and their customers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Look, absolutely we’ve acknowledged that’s happened.


Hon Simon Bridges: No, we’re not—not on anything.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: On things like the employment rate, we absolutely are.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept any responsibility in terms of her Government’s policies such as industrial relations reform, shutting down the oil and gas sectors in terms of new exploration, higher taxes, and banning foreign investment, and the hurt they’re causing business confidence, and therefore the direct impact they’re having for families all around New Zealand?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Look, as I’ve said, I absolutely acknowledge that businesses have shared with us via the confidence surveys that there are issues they wish us to work on.

But Ardern isn’t on her own in absolute overkill.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The member’s question contained a number of things in it that are certainly on the table. Reducing teacher workload is absolutely one of the things that I imagine will be discussed as a result of the current bargaining round. I’m not ruling out changes to class sizes over the term of this Government, but, as I indicated in my answer to the primary question, they will be considered alongside all of the other priorities that the Government has in the education area.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Why will he not absolutely commit to reducing class sizes, and what action will he take against Labour list MP Ginny Andersen, who distributed this pamphlet, which said Labour believes class sizes are too high and will absolutely invest in class sizes?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m not sure which election campaign that flyer came from, but what I can be clear about is that the Government is absolutely committed to employing more teachers. We put funding aside for 1,500 more teachers in this year’s Budget, and that will have an effect on class sizes, that would have been going up had we not put that funding aside in order to fund that.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: First of all, I absolutely reject the premise in the last part of the member’s question. The Government is absolutely committed to negotiating in good faith with the teachers, both primary and secondary, and we will continue to do that. There are a range of priorities in the education portfolio that the Government will be endeavouring to meet over the term of Government. I absolutely reject any suggestion that we’ve broken any promises with regard to class sizes, and I’m absolutely committed to delivering on the commitments made in the Speech from the Throne, the coalition agreement we have with New Zealand First, the confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party, and the other commitments that the Government has signed up to through the Budget.

Education: Nation interview with Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins has had a challenging start to his job of Minister of Education (he is also busy with other things, being Minister of State Services, Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services and Leader of the House).

He has had a lot of pressure from the National opposition over his determination to see the end of partnership (charter) schools.

And he has had to deal with teachers striking, taking advantage of a Government that should be more impressionable to their needs.

He is being interviewed on Newshub Nation this morning (9:30 am, also 10:00 am Sunday).

Won’t commit to smaller class sizes, says more support for students with special needs is the current focus

Chris Hipkins ‘Ask Me Anything’ today on NCEA

Minister of Education Chris Hipkinsn is fronting up on line to allow people to ‘Ask me Anything’ about NCEA, and I presume anything else about education or government.

Reddit: Announcing NCEA AMA with Chris Hipkins and Jeremy Baker – July 9th 3:15pm

r/nz is pleased to announce an AMA with Education Minister, Chris Hipkins this Monday at 3:15pm. Here’s a quick message from the Minister:

Chris Hipkins:

I’m really pleased to have this chance to discuss NCEA with you all, and answer any questions you have about NCEA and the review which is underway.

I’ll be joined by Jeremy Baker, Chair of my Ministerial Advisory Group who developed the thinking around the ‘Big Opportunities’ for strengthening the qualification for all our young people. These opportunities are designed to provoke, inspire, and encourage the kōrero on NCEA. Please feel free to ask questions about these ideas, or about NCEA and the review.

There’s some good conversation happening about education in New Zealand at the moment. To make this session useful it would be good to keep this conversation focused on NCEA. Feel free to submit your other views on education through our Education Conversation website –

I want to make NCEA a stronger qualification for all our young people – Ask me Anything!


Auckland school principals challenge Minister of Education

Advertisements placed by nearly 40 secondary school principals challenging the Minister of Education Chris Hipkin’s NCEA review is another indication about the lack of process and consultation plaguing the Government.

Hipkins on 27 of May:  Big, bold ideas to change NCEA – do you agree?

Radically changing NCEA Level 1 and better involving families and students in the design of courses students take are among the six big ideas in a NCEA Review discussion document released by Education Minister Chris Hipkins today.

The ideas were developed by my Ministerial Advisory Group to challenge thinking and provoke debate on updating our national school-leaving qualification,” Mr Hipkins says.

“Public consultation begins today and runs till 16 September.

“It’s really important the public has their say and I’m calling on them to take part.

But principals are complaining about not being given a say.

Today Newshub: High school principals challenge Education Minister Chis Hipkins over NCEA review

Nearly 40 secondary school principals are challenging the Minister of Education’s NCEA review.

On Sunday, they published full-page newspaper ads grading Chris Hipkins’ review a “fail” and damning the process as rushed, flawed and without proper consultation.

“Too rushed, Minister Hipkins, not enough thought. Must do better for our young people,” the ad reads.

The Principals NCEA Coalition says it represents more than 45,000 students from private, integrated and state schools, ranging from decile 1 to 10.

“We are a coalition of principals passionate about our young people and their secondary school education. We want the best possible education for the next generation – including a New Zealand qualification framework accessible to all students.

“We agree a review of NCEA is necessary because the framework can be improved to better prepare our young people for the challenges ahead. However, the review is flawed and we will not stand idle on the sidelines watching a fraught process pass us by.”

ACT leader David Seymour says he supports the principals, and is calling for Mr Hipkins to halt the review.

“If he is not prepared to do that, then he must modify it to incorporate the principals’ requests, consult them directly, focus on curriculum first, then review the administration of the NCEA.

“If he won’t do that, it will be difficult to see Hipkins’ education consultations as anything more than insincerely manufacturing consent for a predetermined agenda.”

‘Insincerely manufacturing consent for a predetermined agenda’ seems too be far too typical of a Government that seems to be increasingly going ahead with changes while ignoring advice and talking up to consultation but barely paying lip service to it.

Zero tertiary fees 15% claim, 0.3% result

The incoming Government rushed through one of Labour’s key policies to cut fees completely for first year tertiary students. This raised eyebrows, as it seemed to be trying to fix a problem that didn’t really exists while poverty, housing, health and other ‘crises’ had to wait for the budget, or are still waiting for money to be made available.

And it has failed in one respect – Minister or Education predicted a 15% increase in tertiary enrolments but the initial response has been just 0.3%.

Labour education policy: Making tertiary education and training affordable for all

Reversing the current Government’s short-sighted decision to exclude post-graduate students from student allowances will mean more talented people can afford to go on to attain the very high skill levels New Zealand needs to lead our innovation.

Together, these initiatives will help reverse the worrying decline in tertiary participation seen under the current Government, so that we can better equip the younger generation for the jobs of the future.

Last November: Cabinet approves fast-track of free tertiary study and student allowance boost

Cabinet have approved the fast-tracking of Labour’s tertiary education policy in order to make a year of study fee-free by 2018. The new Government also intends to boost all student allowances and student loan living costs by $50 a week in time for the start of the year.

“Officials are working on the details of how these policies will be implemented and to determine who will be eligible to benefit from them, and we are on track for 2018,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Hipkins told Stuff an interim measure would be put in place to deal with study next year before a more robust solution was worked out for the full rollout.

Labour’s pre-election costings, which were verified by BERL, put the cost of the policy at $340m per year, along with $270m per year for the boosts to student support.

Hipkins expects a 15 per cent increase in the number of people studying thanks to the scheme.

But RNZ reports Zero fees: ‘That hypothetical student doesn’t exist’

Official figures show student numbers increased just 0.3 percent this year, which the organisation representing New Zealand’s universities says shows the zero fees policy is not working.

Universities New Zealand, which represents eight universities, said official figures from the Tertiary Education Commission showed their student numbers by end of April 2018 were 0.3 percent higher than at same time in 2017. The increase figure covered all domestic tertiary enrolments.

Universities New Zealand chairperson Stuart McCutcheon said a single year without fees would have no impact on students’ decisions to enrol.

However, Education Ministry forecasts showed university enrolments had been expected to fall slightly this year.

So a prediction of a slight decrease, but a prediction margin of error level of increase.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said enrolments in all tertiary courses above the level of foundation education appeared to have stabilised in 2018 after five years of decline.

“It is pleasing that the drop in enrolment EFTS appears to have flattened out, particularly at a time when there is a strong employment market, which is forecast to get even stronger over the next couple of years,” he said.

That’s a long way from his predictions last year.

So far this looks like being a very expensive failure. It was rushed in at the end of last year so may not have been in time to make much difference this year.

At least many first year students will have more financial assistance and smaller student loans