Hipkins trying to resolve teacher pay dispute

Teachers had their biggest strike ever this week, protesting over what they claim are insufficient wage increases. Minister of education Chris Hipkins spoke to the crowd of teachers who gathered at Parliament, saying there was no more money available. Teachers responded by threatening more strikes.

Hipkins is now trying to resolve the deadlock.

RNZ: Minister intervenes in teachers’ pay dispute, calls forum

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has called for a forum with the teacher unions, the NZEI and PPTA, to resolve what he calls an impasse over pay and conditions.

Secondary school teachers will start five weeks of industrial action on Tuesday when they refuse to teach students in year nine. The action comes hard on the heels of this week’s joint strike with primary teachers.

In a release tonight, Mr Hipkins said the government was committed to progressively taking action to address the concerns of teachers and principals.

The talks were set down for 6 June.

“The issues being raised by teachers are many, varied and complex,” he said in tonight’s statement.

“We will make no further comment until after the parties have met.”

The primary teachers’ union has yet to announce its next move, but it has already held three strikes and further action is considered likely.

One problem that is probably unresolvable is pay scales that don’t reflect effort and effectiveness. Teachers claim they work long hours, and I’m sure some do, but they get paid the same as teachers with similar a length of service who do the bare minimum.

Teacher unions have always been strongly against performance linked pay rates.

This can mean that better teachers can leave to find better paid work elsewhere, while more mediocre teachers stay with fairly good pay for their efforts (but there are still good teachers who are underpaid).

When he was opposition spokesperson on education Hipkins had an easy ride on the side of teachers complaining about the National government. It is a lot more challenging for Hipkins now that he is up against teacher demands.

Teachers strike, more to come

After large teacher strikes yesterday the Minister of Education said there was no more money available for teacher pays for now. Teachers have indicated strikes will continue.

RNZ: Teachers vow to strike again if govt doesn’t up its offer

They marched, they sang, and they shut down most of the country’s 2400 state and integrated schools, but it remains to be seen if today’s historic joint strike by primary, secondary and area school teachers has moved the government.

The joint action by nearly 50,000 members of the Educational Institute and the Post Primary Teachers Association was an attempt to persuade the government to expand the$1.2 billion envelope it has imposed on its offers to teachers.

But speaking to striking teachers in Wellington, the Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, stuck to the line he has consistently given – that the government is doing a lot to improve schools but it can’t do everything at once.

That did not go down well with the thousands of teachers gathered in front of the Beehive and Mr Hipkins retreated from the podium on Parliament’s forecourt to boos and chants of “not enough”.

Unless the budget comes up with something unexpected today it looks like teacher strikes will continue.

Hipkins questioned about teacher strikes and budget

With the largest teacher strike ever planned to coincide with this week’s budget Minister of Eduction Chris Hipkins was interviewed on NewsHub Nation.

“…with $1.2 billion on the table and a $10,000 pay rise for most teachers on the table, we think that that’s as far as we can go in terms of putting more money in their pay packets in this pay round.”

Simon Shepherd: This week, a megastrike. The words no Education Minister wants to hear. For the first time in New Zealand history, all state and integrated schools will strike together this Wednesday. The action comes after talks failed to secure an offer acceptable to the 50,000 affected teachers and principals. I asked Chris Hipkins if he had a last minute deal to stop the strike going ahead.

Chris Hipkins: Look, we’re going to continue talking to the teachers, right up till the point of the strike action. If we can avoid strike action, of course we would like to do that. We’ve been very clear, though, that with $1.2 billion on the table and a $10,000 pay rise for most teachers on the table, we think that that’s as far as we can go in terms of putting more money in their pay packets in this pay round. But we also recognise that for many teachers this is about more than just pay, and they’re raising a whole lot of other issues that they also want us to address.

Well, let’s talk about pay. They want a package, between them all, of like $3.9 billion. It seems you guys are like a universe apart. Is there no more money to just get this done?

We’ve been really clear that for salaries there isn’t any more money on the table, and there’s not going to be, but there are many other issues that teachers are raising. We know that there are more kids in classrooms that have additional learning needs, for example. We do need to do more in that area. We know that there are big workload issues that teachers are grappling with, and we need to do more in that area. We’ll keep talking to them about how we can address those issues, but in terms of the pay round, we’ve been pretty clear that $1.2 billion is what there is.

The Crown had a surplus in the March figures of $2.5 billion, and the teachers are going to be looking at that and going, ‘Look, there’s some money.’

I don’t think teachers will put their hands up to take a pay cut, if the surplus were to go down. You can’t base your decisions about pay negotiations based on government surpluses because actually every other workforce in the public sector is looking at that money as well. We’ve got to look at what’s sustainable. We’ve also got a number of other big workforces— nurses will be back in bargaining next year. We’ve got doctors in bargaining. You’ll have police back in bargaining next year, and we do have to think about what are sustainable pay rises across the public service? Teachers are right at the top of those. You know, they are being offered some of the biggest pay rises across the broader public sector

Secondary principals now have a pay claim as well. Are you fearful that you’re going to see another strike on your hands from them?

Look, we’ll go into those negotiations in good faith. The secondary principal bargaining is just getting underway, and we need to let that take its course.

You talk about this pay round. What about next pay round? Is that one of the reasons that the government’s decided to loosen its debt cap — to create more money, to be able to borrow more money, to be able to make these kind of pay rounds work?

I’m not going to pre-empt the next pay round before we’ve even concluded this pay round. I’ve always been very clear with the teachers — as long as I have been doing this job for the Labour Party, and that was five years in opposition as well — that they need to think about their pay strategy over every pay cycle and not just a big action roughly every 15 years when there’s a Labour government.

This mega-strike that’s coming up on Wednesday, I mean, that’s hundreds of thousands of children, parents affected. Do you understand what kind of effect that this is going to have for families?

Well, look, I know that this will have a big impact for families. I don’t think that the strike action is justified. As I’ve said, the pay rise on the table now over the next two years is worth an average of $10,000 to the majority of teachers so that is a pretty sizeable pay increase. It’s $1.2 billion, and actually parents are also saying that they want the government to get serious about mental health, they want the government to properly fund district health boards, so that the hospitals that they go to are well-funded and well-resourced. They also want us to deal with the housing shortage and the housing crisis. They want us to lift children out of poverty. We need to be able to do all of those things.

But how long can you let this drag on for? One of these pay negotiations has been going on for more than 18 months.

Look, we continue to negotiate. We went to the Employment Relations Authority late last year. The Employment Relations Authority, in fact, said to the primary school teachers at the time that they thought the government’s offer was very competitive — ‘handsome and competitive’ was how they described it. We’re doing everything that we can.

And you’ve gone back there now? I mean, there’s new, urgent talks on the table, isn’t there?

That’s right. We are doing everything that we can to continue to sit around the table to try and resolve the issues that the teachers are raising. But obviously, any government — whether it’s our government or any other government — is always going to have a limit to the amount of money that they can put on the table in any given pay round.

Okay. Let’s talk about this week in parliament. Haven’t really seen anything like this before with allegations of bullying, harassment, sexual assault — how surprised were you at the findings of the Francis Report?

Look, I think parliament has come a long way over the last 20 or 30 years in terms of changing its culture, being more representative of all New Zealanders, but we’ve still got a long way to go nad I think the Francis Report clearly highlights that. We need to change the culture around this place. We need to create a much more people-friendly environment, and clearly there are some big areas for improvement.

You’ve been here — what? —almost 10 years, 10 and a half years, have you been involved, have you seen, have you experienced bullying and harassment of this nature?

Look, I wouldn’t say that I’ve been the victim of bullying. I have seen people treating other people inappropriately and unfairly. Now let’s just be clear about this — in a democratic system of government, like we have here in New Zealand, an adversarial approach is built into it. You know, it’s designed to be adversarial, and that is going to create conflict. There’s a different between legitimate conflict, legitimate scrutiny, legitimate accountability, and bullying. And certainly the staff, the interactions that some MPs have with staff, the interactions that some staff would have with each other — they’re not okay, and we need to be really clear in saying that. You can be adversarial, you can do your job in a democratic system without treating people as abysmally as some people around here have been treated.

It’s also been described as a very high-intensity workload. I mean, you’re a father, you’ve got to manage your family as well as this. I mean, how hard is it to be able to do the job?

Look, it’s a tough job. MPs are away from their homes a lot. I’m lucky in one sense, as a Wellington MP, I get to go home every night to my family. I think everybody who’s working who has a family struggles with this. I think MPs particularly, given the lengths of time they spend away from their families, do really struggle with that.
Okay, but what changes do you think should be made within parliament, both for staff and members, to make it more family-friendly?

Well, I think that the Francis Report, again, sets out some good recommendations around how we can improve the culture of this place.

What recommendations do you like?

Well, I think having a single point of contact or various points of contact for people who are feeling bullied or feeling harassed, so that they know where they can go to get extra help. We’ve been working for some time to make this place a bit more family-friendly. I think it humanises parliament a bit more, and I think we’ve made real advances in that in recent years, and there’s more that we can do there too.

So do you think we need a wider review, like the Francis Report, but for the wider public service? Do you think this kind of culture exists out there?

Look, I think any workplace is going to have challenges, if they have a culture that allows bullying. Now, without going through every different department or agency, I can’t say where that might exist, but my message to every chief executive in the public service, is my expectation of them is that they will ensure that their workplace is not one of those workplaces that has that type of culture.

Okay. It’s Budget Week, and Finance Minister Grant Robertson has been looking around for extra cash, and he’s taken $197 million dollars from the tertiary education policy — the ‘fees-free’ policy. Why not just give that to the teachers?

Well, when we set up the ‘fees-free’ policy, we deliberately budgeted conservatively because it’s very difficult when you’re introducing a new policy like that to understand the behavioural effects of that. You know, enrolments could have gone up significantly, they might not have. You’ve got to be conservative. You have to make sure that the money is there if you need it. We knew that we were probably going to get some money back from that. That money is going to go back into tertiary education, particularly into vocational education — where we know that our polytechs have been scaling back, where we know we’ve got critical skill shortages in areas like building and construction. so that money is still going into education, and it’s going into an area where we’ve also got a big pressing need.

With this tertiary policy— I mean, the Labour policy was to roll out free years in the second and third year by 2024. Has that gone?

No, that hasn’t gone. That continues to be the Labour Party’s policy. Of course, it’s a coalition government, so everything is—

So you can’t commit to that for the next election, is that what you’re saying?

Well, what I’m saying is we’ll go into the next election campaign with a very clear policy. Under this government where it’s a coalition government, the commitment that we made in this term was to introduce the first year free, which is what we have done. You know, beyond the next election, of course, that’s going to depend on the outcome of the election.

Okay. Finally, one last word to the teachers and the pupils and the parents who are going to be the subject of this strike this week, I mean, what would you say to them?

I would say that this strike isn’t necessary, that we are hearing the concerns of teachers. We are committed to addressing them. We have given teachers a very significant pay offer, the largest that they’ve had in over a decade. In fact, it’s worth more than all of the other pay offers that they’ve had over the last decade put together, and we’re also committed to working on the other issues that they’re raising.

Chris Hipkins on education reviews

Seymour grandstanding while Parliament sat and acted without him

David Seymour was busy talking the democratic high ground over the pending rush job on the Arms Amendment Bill, the Government (with the support of the National Opposition) outmanoeuvred him in the House.

NZ Herald: ACT Leader David Seymour misses chance to force Govt to use urgency for gun law’s first reading

Act leader David Seymour was so busy objecting to media about the speed of the Government’s gun law reform that he missed being in the House to block the process being streamlined.

The Government was planning on seeking leave to streamline the bill’s passage through Parliament, including having the first reading this afternoon.

Seymour had planned to block any such attempt, which would have forced the Government to use urgency, but Seymour was not in the House when a motion for an expedited process was moved.

He was outside the House at the time, telling media that the Government was too concerned with “being seen to do the right thing on the global stage”.

TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

ARMS (PROHIBITED FIREARMS, MAGAZINES, AND PARTS) AMENDMENT BILL

Procedure

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I seek leave for the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill to be set down for first reading after general business today, despite Standing Order 285(1)(b); for there to be no debate on the instruction to the select committee to consider the bill despite Standing Order 290; for the bill to be available for second reading on Tuesday, 9 April, despite Standing Order 296; should the member in charge desire, for the bill to be set down for the committee of the whole House forthwith, following the second reading, despite Standing Order 299; and for the bill to be set down for third reading forthwith, following the committee stage, despite Standing Order 310.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that process being followed? There appears to be none.

Chuckling could be heard from Members, most of whom had made it into the House on time.

Claire Trevett: Act’s David Seymour hoist on tardy petard

Seymour had been strutting around proud as a peacock for being the only self-proclaimed true champion of democracy by refusing to give his leave for firearms legislation to be passed in a hurry.

He stood alone on his high horse. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, all other parties had agreed to support hasty progression for at least the first tranche of changes – the banning of some guns, and tougher new penalties.

Seymour was so busy talking to the media about his plans to refuse leave for the reforms to be rushed that by the time he made it to his seat to carry out this superhuman feat it was already done.

Instead of delivering democracy he was outfoxed by Leader of the House Chris Hipkins.

Rather than wait until after Question Time as usual, Hipkins stood just before Question Time began to ask for the leave of Parliament to expedite the bill. Seymour was still outside, oblivious.

Members of Parliament did not quite manage to stay as deadpan as the Speaker. Audible laughter swept through Parliament. The Greens – usually most opposed to the hasty progression of legislation – were first to gloat on Twitter.

National MPs Maggie Barry, Paul Goldsmith and Paula Bennett could all be seen looking at Seymour’s desk and laughing. He wandered in a few minutes later.

Undaunted, Seymour sought to re-cast himself as the Superman of Democracy. Rather than berate himself for bad timekeeping, he claimed the fact Hipkins had taken advantage of his tardiness in such a fashion showed what little regard Hipkins had for democracy.

To succeed at democracy you have to be on top of democratic processes. Seymour should have saved hos crowing until after his democratic egg was laid, but he ended up with yolk on his face.

Whether it was good democracy or not, the quick thinking and speed reading of Hipkins meant that the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill is rushing through Parliament than Urgency would have allowed.

Hostile reception for Minister of Education in Invercargill

Plans to reform the administration of schools is in it’s consultation stage. Good on Minister of Education Chris Hipkins fronting up in Invercargill, where he received some good Southland straight taking.

ODT: Hostile southern reception for Hipkins

Education Minister Chris Hipkins’s bid to reassure a public meeting in Invercargill that the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) would not be destroyed in his plans to merge the country’s 16 polytechnic was met with disbelief and hostility.

In his address Mr Hipkins paid tribute to SIT’s achievements and said the Government wanted this replicated on a national scale.

It has been pointed out that one size doesn’t fit all pupils or regions in education.

One speaker at the public meeting of about 500 people made it clear how angry she was at the proposals.

“If I had sandals or something I would be giving it to you because you are flip-flopping all over the place.”

Any size would probably do there.

Invercargill councillor Toni Biddle said his decision would be detrimental to the community, the iwi, housing and future generations.

“I feel frustrated because there is a lot of smoke and mirrors and no guarantees. You never worried about Southland before, so why worry about us now? You don’t want to be the minister that completely demolished the work that we have done for the last five years.”

He drew a rebuke from SIT CEO Penny Simmonds when he said that much was already decided nationally, including the institution’s budgets.

Ms Simmonds pointed out that a third of SIT’s did not come from government, but from other sources.

Speaking afterwards, she said much of what Mr Hipkins was saying was not in the proposals.

“We don’t know how this works. We are lost about what he is saying here and what is written.”

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, speaking in the afternoon, after Mr Hipkins held a meeting with the SIT Council, said Mr Hipkins had offered “nothing specific” in terms of SIT’s future.

“It was a lot of vague promises taking us into the promised land.”

That isn’t going down well in Southland where they prefer that a swede is called a swede (the turnip variety).

But speaking before a visit to Waihopai Primary School, Mr Hipkins said that the community’s understandably “passionate” welcome had been fully expected.

He said that that while the country was moving to a national system it had to still be decided what would be run nationally and what would be run locally.

He repeatedly stressed that no decisions had been taken and described the the proposal as “a framework” in which to improve vocational training.

That sounds like mushy overcooked swede.

He said fears that SIT would lose its distance learning facility were unfounded.

His attempts to appease those in the audience appeared to fall on deaf ears and one speaker accused him of punishing SIT for being successful.

SIT is something Southland has worked hard for. Taking away their points of difference would be like banning the Ranfurly Shield from Southland, or banning oysters.

More from ODT: ‘Vague promises’ over SIT’s future

I wonder if Hipkins will go to Invercargill to announce what reforms he ends up deciding on.

Consultation on education reform

The Government is proposing major changes to how schools are administered.

From December:  Minister wants ‘wider discussion’ on proposed schooling changes

The Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce is proposing significant changes to the way our schools are run, governed, and managed to ensure every student receives the best quality education in future, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“The next four and half months until April 7, 2019 provides opportunity for the wider public discussion we are seeking.

“Now is the chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on building a schooling system that meets the needs of all students, educators and parents, and that is fit for purpose for the 21st century.

“The Taskforce will lead the consultation, and report on the results. The Government will make decisions on implementing the review in mid-2019,” Chris Hipkins said.

A full copy of Our Schooling Futures: Stronger Together | Whiria Ngā Kura Tūātinitini is available here.

There is alternative consultation going on.

Big Read (NZH): One night with the man who could change all your children’s futures

Bali Haque’s got the electricity of a preacher. He’s an education evangelist with a fire in his eyes.

“We have a world class education system,” says the academic-principal-teacher leading the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce.

He’s on the road, from the south of the country to the north and back again, telling people why this “world class education system” needs to become something completely different.

The reason?

“In this country, we have a really significant issue with equity,” he says.

Haque is speaking in the Kerikeri High School library, the Far North’s centre of relatively comfortable affluence where citizens know all about equity. They are well aware they enjoy a life different from the abject poverty which eats at the heart of almost all Far North towns.

The gap between poor and rich has grown to a chasm. School is one place where foundations are laid to bridge that gap.

“The gap between best performing and least-well performing is large. And it is stubborn.”

And there’s the problem. The 1989 promise of former Prime Minister David Lange’s
Tomorrow’s Schools has not been realised. Our 2500 parent-led schools have developed a host of different answers to the question every child poses, which is: Who is the best person you can be?

He tells the 30 people in the audience: “We are good at innovation but have a problem with scaling up, or sustaining innovation.”

And so, if we are to have an education revolution – this biggest school shake up in 30 years – then it needs to happen in a way which lasts.

“It’s our view one of the reasons we have this stubborn gap is the system we are working in.”

Having listed his Five Great Truths, Haque is off and painting a picture with words of a new system of schooling.

These meetings are happening across New Zealand this month and next. By the time they have finished, Haque and the other four people on the Taskforce will have given or heard this talk 33 times, from New Plymouth on Valentine’s Day to Palmerston North on March 27.

There are around 800,000 children in our primary-through-secondary education system. If Haque gets his way, these changes will have a dramatic effect on how they are educated, and how their children will be educated.

Haque hasn’t just redesigned our school system. He’s drafting a fresh blueprint for our future.

And yet, there are just 30 people in the Kerikeri High School library. Of those, 25 people are teachers or Board of Trustee members. Only five – including this reporter – are parents of children at school.

For such a monumental upheaval, is this really consultation?

A big read follows that.

National’s Nikki Kaye is also going around the country consulting – National to hold 40 education public meetings

“The meetings will be jointly hosted by myself and the local National MPs, some members of National’s Education Caucus will also be in attendance. I plan to attend all of the 40 meetings.

“National has also welcomed a request by the Chair of the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce, Bali Haque, to have some of the taskforce or officials attend some of our meetings as part of their own public consultation process.

“National want to ensure that the 19,000 trustees on school boards and hundreds of thousands of parents have the opportunity to have a good understanding of the proposals. To ensure this we will be providing factual information on the changes as well as seeking feedback.

More from the Big Read:

Last year, Hipkins stressed to Cabinet the importance of “public consultation”. It was this, he said, what he would bring to Cabinet before “decisions on a Government response” to the taskforce recommendations.

He wouldn’t be interviewed about the timeframe, but said through a spokesman he was happy with the level of consultation.

The Bali Haque Roadshow set off for Whangārei, and then further south. They will soon be in a town near you. If you have children, you need to go to these meetings. Not just for their sake but for the children they will have.

Haque and his cohort of revolutionaries will change education for generations.

And if you do go to a meeting, you will hear him say: “Education reform in New Zealand we don’t do well.”

A list of meetings:

The education road show

East Auckland: February 28, 4pm and 7pm at Bailey Road School.

Queenstown: March 4, 7pm at the Crowne Plaza.

Hamilton: March 5, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Taupō: March 6, 7pm, Taupo-nui-a-Tia College.

Gisborne: March 6, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Napier/Hastings: March 7, 7pm, William Colenso College.

Wellington: March 11, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Porirua: March 12, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Lower Hutt: March 13, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Masterton: March 14, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Rotorua: March 18, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Tauranga: March 19, 7pm, Tauranga Boys’ College.

South Auckland: March 20, 4pm and 7pm, Papatoetoe High School.

West Auckland: March 21, 4pm and 7pm, The Trusts Arena.

Central Auckland: March 21, 7pm, Freemans Bay School.

Nelson: March 25, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Greymouth: March 26, 5.30pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Whanganui: March 26, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Palmerston North: March 27, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

More from NZ Herald:

• Bali Haque: Tomorrows Schools review must deal with the market’s failure
• Tomorrow’s Schools meeting: Teachers speak out against Bali Haque’s plan
• Biggest education shake-up in 30 years proposed
• ‘Stalinist’ or ‘exciting’: Battle begins over radical school reforms

Major changes for Polytechnics proposed by Government

Polytechnics around the country have been struggling financially for some time. In response the Government is proposing all sixteen Polytechnics be merged into one ‘entity’ called the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology (even the acronym NZIST or NZIOSAT will not be particularly catchy).

Public consultation on the proposed will run to 27th March, so this looks like a rush job, particularly compared to a lot of long drawn out inquiries and working groups.

I can’t see the changes signalled in Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, and it is not mentioned in either governing agreement with NZ First or the Greens.

Beehive: A new future for work skills training in NZ

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today released wide-ranging proposals for strengthening vocational education so that school leavers get high quality training opportunities, employers get the skills they need and New Zealanders are better equipped for the changing nature of work.

“Instead of our institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery in more locations around the country.

“It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.

“The Coalition Government proposes to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training. The proposals are:

  • Redefined roles for education providers and industry bodies (Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)) to extend the leadership role of industry and employers;
  • Bringing together the 16 existing ITPs as a one entity with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision; and
  • A unified vocational education funding system.

“We would also ensure there’s strong regional influence in the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology through the proposed formation of Regional Leadership Groups which would identify the needs of the local economy and become a key link between local government, employers, iwi and communities.

“The development of courses and programmes would be consolidated, improving consistency and freeing up resources to expand front-line delivery. There will be more sharing of expertise and best-practice, and more use of online, distance, and blended learning.

“The Government envisages that the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, and perhaps also wānanga, host Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs). These power houses of expertise could cover key sectors and industries, which could be broad (eg, agriculture) or specific (eg, viticulture).

“What we are proposing is ambitious, but it needs to be. We cannot continue to tweak the system knowing that the model is fundamentally broken, and isn’t delivering our workforce the skills that they need to thrive.

“The proposals released today may go ahead in this or another form, but the Government won’t make any decisions until we have heard and carefully considered feedback from this consultation process,” Chris Hipkins said.

Public consultation is open until 27 March.

Six weeks seems a short timeframe for consultation on such major changes. .

It has been reported that the intention is to have these changes up and running by the end of the year.

Hipkins seems to be one of the better ministers for providing information available.

The decision making documents are dated from 28 March 2018, showing that changes have been considered for at least a year, probably initiated just after Hipkins took over as Minister of Education.

There was no mention of reform of Polytechnics in either the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement or the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

There is no mention of it in Labour’s Vision for Education, their 2017 campaign policy document.

From Labour’s Education Manifesto:

Strong Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) are a crucial element of New Zealand’s tertiary education system. They play a key role in ensuring that the workforce has the skills and training to drive innovation and to ensure labour market needs are met. They are important for regional development, and serve as economic ‘anchors’ for the communities they serve.

  • Labour will ensure that there is a strong network of regional public institutions dedicated to meeting the labour market and skill needs of our regions.
  • Labour will establish Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) to be based at Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics to provide a focus for driving excellence in training, research and innovation in a particular industry
  • Labour will improve the way that ITPs and ITOs work together including through joint curriculum development, clearer qualifications and more flexible learning pathways.

I can’t see any reference in the rest of the manifesto for centralising administration of the Polytechnics.

They emphasise “Labour will ensure that there is a strong network of regional public institutions”.

It will be interesting to see how they achieve this by merging 16 regional providers into one centralised body – I presume centralised in Wellington or Auckland.

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.