Some principals ‘furious’ over proposal for radical education restructuring

Radical change will usually annoy some people, and so it seems with some school principals over the proposal to radically change the way schools are administered.

The reform was announced just as schools were closing down for the year.

Stuff:  Furious principals warn education reforms will ‘destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it’

Furious principals say they will march on Parliament in protest at the most radical restructuring in 30 years, saying the proposals will destroy schooling as New Zealand knows it.

The proposal to relieve school boards of responsibility for property, HR and financial management is the one that has been most warmly-greeted by the Government. Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the report reflected what he often heard from schools: that boards felt ill-equipped to manage property, especially when problems such as leaky buildings cropped up.

The School Trustees Association and Principal’s Federation have offered cautious support to centralising some of those responsibilities. And this week, Manawatū Principals’ Association president Wayne Jenkins said boards of trustees faced “huge” responsibilities, and he welcomed a re-evaluation on their role.

But at some of the bigger secondary schools, especially in Auckland, anger is mounting. In this week’s strongly-worded attack, Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves wrote to parents and staff in the holidays to say the proposed changes would “destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it”.

Hargreaves joined other heads, including Auckland Grammar’s Tim O’Connor, in revolting against the proposals.

Taking power away from boards would create “bland, one-size-fits-all” institutions and destroy the role of communities in schools, Hargreaves said.

He called on parents to oppose the recommendations and said parents had already been quick to voice their backing for him.

Over the summer break, schools would be picking over the report in detail and identifying the key issues, Hargreaves said. A parents’ information evening would be scheduled in February and from there they would aim to get traction through the board of trustees and local MPs.

Hargreaves said he was ready to “descend on Parliament” with other principals if necessary.

This weekend, Bali Haque, chairman of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce, emphasised there could be scope for hubs to hand responsibilities back to boards.

Haque said there was no intention in the report to take away the “critical jobs” boards currently have.

Boards would retain control over teaching at their schools, the locally-raised funds, and receive a veto or final approval over their principal’s appointment if the taskforce’s recommendations are adopted.

It looks like a lot of consultation is required here.

The Government and Minister of Education Chris Hipkins have already had to try to deal with teacher unions campaigning for substantially improved pay and and staffing levels.

Controversial renaming of Victoria University blocked by Minister

A controversial attempt by the Victoria University Council to rename themselves as as University of Wellington has been blocked by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has declined Victoria University of Wellington Council’s application for a legal name change.

The Council formally made an application to change the institution’s name to the University of Wellington on 27 September 2018.

“I have considered the University’s recommendation and supporting information along with advice received from officials,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Council identified benefits that it considered would follow a name change and its consultation process which, although the subject of some criticism, brought out a wide range of views.

“The Council’s consultation showed that staff were divided on the name change, and there was significant opposition from alumni and students who responded. This opposition is also reflected in surveys conducted by the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association and the VUW Law Students’ Society, and to a lesser extent one from the Tertiary Education Union.

“I also received more than 450 pieces of correspondence on the name change question from students, alumni and others mostly opposed to the name change. Many of these referred to a change.org petition with more than 10,000 signatories listed as opposing the name change.

“While Victoria University of Wellington, like other universities, has significant autonomy in making academic, operational and management decisions, it is accountable to its community and the groups that make up the University.

“I am not convinced that the University engaged sufficiently with the views of those stakeholders who should have their views considered. Given the level of opposition to the University’s recommendation, including by its own staff, students and alumni, I am not persuaded that the recommendation is consistent with the demands of accountability and the national interest.

From what I have seen there had been widespread opposition to the renaming on social media, and the decision of Hipkins has generally been applauded.

I haven’t seen any grizzling about the decision.

“In the interests of transparency, I am releasing the advice I have received to inform my decision on the application for a name change,” Chris Hipkins said.

Good to see a Minister walking the transparency talk.

 

Kaye and Hipkins working together on language teaching bill

This is a very good sign from two younger senior politicians – Minister of Education Chris Hipkins is supporting Former education minister Nikki Kaye’s members’ bill – the Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill – to at least the committee stage in Parliament.

NZ Herald:  Ex-education minister Nikki Kaye signs up sitting Minister Chris Hipkins to progress bill for teaching languages

Foreign language learning in primary schools looks likely to become commonplace for Kiwi kids with widespread political support for a private member’s bill promoting second-language teaching from a young age.

Former education minister Nikki Kaye has won the support of current Education Minister Chris Hipkins and the Labour caucus, plus the Greens and Act, to progress her bill to select committee.

The bill is also likely to extend the provision of Māori language teaching in schools as well as foreign languages.

The bill requires the Government to set 10 priority languages – likely to include Mandarin, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Pacific languages and possibly Hindi as well as official languages Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.

It also requires the Government to resource the provision of those languages in primary and intermediate schools.

Kaye said a number of issues would need to be worked through at select committee.

“These include investing in workforce development to ensure we have the teachers and that adequate time is given for schools to implement this. I realise this could be phased in over a number of years.”

The bill won’t come up for its first reading vote until next year but she has had a commitment in writing from Labour, the Greens and Act that they will support it. New Zealand First is still considering it. Kaye was particularly complimentary about Hipkins.

“He has been incredibly generous and understanding that while there may need to be some changes to the bill in the future, that he is supportive to send it to select committee.”

Hipkins said there was real value in second-language learning.

“Kids who do a second language generally tend to do better in their first language,” he said.

“It is not going to be something that any Government can deliver in three, six or even nine years. It is going to be something we are going to have to work on over a long period of time.”

He said one of the areas of debate would be around the concept of priority languages, the role of Pacific languages, the focus on Asian languages in the context of economic partnerships and the traditional European languages which have taught for a long time.

“I’m not sure whether we should restrict down to a small list of priority languages but the bill gives us an opportunity to have that discussion.”

He welcomed the opportunity to have a discussion about what was taught in schools, including language learning, on a cross-party basis rather than being divided along party lines.

This is a good bill to have put into the Members’ ballot, so good on Kaye for that. Lucky it was drawn.

And it is very good to see the ex-minister and current Minister, from normally opposing parties, working together to get this bill debated and worked over in Parliament. It doesn’t guarantee it will end up passing, but this shows our MPs and parties are capable of working together on policies of common interest.

I would like to see more of this cooperation between the Government and the Opposition – it does happen quite a bit as business as usual in Parliament but usually gets little or no attention.

Holding to account, and even attacking opponents constructively, are important parts of our democratic system, but those actions should be exceptions rather than the norm.

Unfortunately media tend to prefer to report on conflict rather than cooperation, but I think that most voters would prefer to see more working together between all our representatives in Parliament.

This cooperation on Kaye’s language bill is a very good sign.

Early childhood education likely to get more expensive

The Government has announced a ‘bold ten year plan’ for early childhood (pre-school) education,  an area in education that has increased a lot over the last decade or two. I

Changes include moving towards 100% fully qualified teachers and improving adult child ratios, which will make what effectively is childcare for working parents more expensive.

RNZ: Govt announces $3.5 billion early childhood plan

The government’s draft 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education also suggested regulation of early childhood teachers’ pay and greater restrictions on where new services would be allowed to open.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said quality was the focus of the plan, which would be open for consultation until 15 March 2019.

Mr Hipkins said a top priority was the reintroduction of a higher government subsidy for early childhood services where all teachers were qualified.

He said another priority was to raise the minimum ratio of teachers required to look after the youngest children.

“At the moment the ratios for under-twos are one-to-five, but also in the two-year-old age bracket it’s a one-to-10 ratio at the moment. The plan aims to get us to a one-to-five ratio for the two-year-olds and then moving down to a one-to-four for the under two-year-olds,” Mr Hipkins said.

The draft plan suggests raising the minimum percentage of qualified teachers in teacher-led early childhood centres from 50 to 80 percent by 2022, and to 100 percent in the longer-term.

There are some concerns:

The Early Childhood Council said it agreed with the goal of raising quality, but warned that it would be difficult to find sufficient teachers to fill improved teacher-child ratios for the youngest children.

“We wonder where the increased teaching staff will come from given there is currently a significant shortage of teachers,” the council’s chief executive Peter Reynolds said.

Beehive: New plan for high quality early learning

A bold ten year plan looks to restore the Government’s commitment to quality in early learning, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Moving towards 100 percent qualified teachers in early childhood education centres and improving adult:child ratios are among some of the key proposals for change put forward by the sector and experts in the new draft ten year strategic plan for early learning,”  Chris Hipkins said.

The draft plan, He taonga te tamaiti, sets the direction for early learning for the next 10 years and is open for consultation until 15 March 2019.

“This ten year vision for early learning puts the focus back on quality, picking up on the huge progress made by the last Labour Government.

“All the evidence shows that early learning gives children a head start in life, improves their wellbeing and contributes to a happy safe childhood. But only if it’s high quality.

“Participation in early learning has grown in recent years, but this doesn’t mean that all children have access to high quality learning opportunities.

“This is why I appointed a Ministerial Advisory Group and a Reference Group to work with the sector and the Ministry of Education on a new Strategic Plan for Early Learning. I asked them to focus on three themes:  quality, equity, and choice.

“Their draft plan released today sets out a path to develop and strengthen the early learning sector over the next 10 years, to meet the needs of all children and their families and whānau,” Chris Hipkins said.

Key proposals for change include:

  • moving towards a 100% qualified teacher workforce in early childhood education centres
  • improving the adult:child ratios for babies and toddlers
  • increasing the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions across the sector
  • a more planned approach to establishing new services, greater support and increased monitoring.

“The draft plan will see some significant changes in the sector, including the increase in demand for qualified teachers.

“This is a long term commitment which requires a staged approach to allow time for the sector to respond to the changes and additional workforce demands.

“I am keen to hear from families and whānau, kaiako, service providers, educators and the wider community about the specific changes suggested, as well as the proposed timeline for implementation,” Chris Hipkins said.

Consultation will include an online survey as well as a series of hui around the country.

Here is the draft Strategic Plan for Early Learning and here is the Cabinet paper.

RNZ’s Insight programme reported serious complaints about the quality of some early childhood services last year.

 

Teacher strikes again this week

Primary school teachers are still unhappy with pay negotiations and plan more strikes this week, starting in Auckland today and rolling out across the country through the week. This will inconvenience many people.

Last Thursday: Revised pay offer for secondary teachers labelled as ‘laughable’

About 1500 teachers turned up for a meeting yesterday to discuss the new offer from the government over pay and conditions, which would increase most teachers’ pay by 9 percent over three years.

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association has suggested teachers reject the offer, which it said was largely unchanged from another offer in September that teachers also rejected.

Teachers are seeking better pay, better staffing, cuts to unnecessary administrative red tape, and upped allowances to create better conditions in the classroom.

I wouldn’t mind 9% of increases over three years, but teachers think they need more of a catch up for that – for the sake of the kids of course.

Friday:  Primary teacher strikes to go ahead as last-ditch offer fails

A last-ditch offer from the Education Ministry has failed to avert next week’s strikes by primary teachers and principals.

New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said the Ministry made the offer yesterday afternoon after a week of bargaining facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority.

She said it removed the $63,929 upper limit on pay rates for teachers with diplomas and moved it to $82,992 by 2020, the same top rate as teachers with degrees.

The top rate for those with graduate diplomas and masters degrees would rise to $85,481 by 2020.

Ms Stuart said its members would discuss the offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.

But are going on strike this week.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he was disappointed the teacher union decided to push ahead with strike action.

Mr Hipkins said teachers were not even given the opportunity to vote on the latest offer before the union dismissed it.

“The latest offer that the government has made is it. There’s not going to be any more money, so they can choose to accept the offer, they can ask for the offer to be reconfigured, but striking in the hope that more money will eventuate is going to lead to disappointment.”

RNZ:  Primary school teachers on strike again today

More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year.

Today’s strike is the first of five expected across the country this week.

The strike is in Dunedin on Thursday, which will impact on me.

The Educational Institute said its members would discuss the ministry’s latest offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.

The Employment Relations Authority has slammed the teachers union’s pay demands as “totally unrealistic” and is urging teachers to take the Government’s offer.

Teachers get some parent sympathy when pushing for better wages and conditions, but run the risk of losing that support if they strike too much. Strikes impact on many people. The kids like getting an extra day off school, but it inconveniences parents, grandparents and other caregivers.

 

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.