School principals concerned over partial re-opening

Concerns have been expressed by principals and teachers over the partial reopening plans for schools under Alert Level 3. It will be tricky trying to deal with possibly fluctuating numbers of pupils at school but also keeping work going for all the kids learning from home.

But Covid-19 lockdowns have disrupted many people in many occupations, making work harder for a lot of us. And making education harder. It’s a given that this year’s education will be tricky for everyone.

Under Level 3, which we may be dropping to next Thursday (a decision will be made on Monday), schools will be opening for children of essential workers and optionally other children to enable parents to go back to work, up until year 10 (the old Form 4).  This allows for care of children up to age 14, who can’t legally be left at home alone.

RNZ – Principals concerned over level 3 reopening: ‘It’s going to be a shambles’

Principals are warning the government’s plans for partially reopening schools at alert level 3 will be a shambles.

Things are a bit of a shambles now.

They warn that teachers will struggle to teach classes in-person and online, social distancing will be nearly impossible to maintain, and parents will send children to school simply because they are sick of having them at home.

Otorohanga College principal Traci Liddall said she could see potential problems with the government’s plans.

“It’s going to be a shambles. Who is allowed to come back? What is the purpose of them coming back? Are they just coming back because parents are sick of them? Are they coming back because they are the children of essential workers?” she said.

“I can’t see it running very smoothly at all.”

The president of the Principals Federation, Perry Rush, said principals needed a lot more detail about how partial reopening would work.

He said there would be challenges with maintaining social distancing at schools.

“That is always a really difficult challenge in any school and it will largely be impossible,” he said.

The president of the Auckland Secondary Principals Association, Richard Dykes, said teachers would not be able to provide an in-class lesson for students who were present in person and a remote lesson for those studying from home.

“If students do turn up, they’re going to be working online, maybe with some teacher oversight, but certainly it won’t be face-to-face teaching as we know it,” he said.

Dykes said he expected most students would stay home.

RNZ: Covid-19 level 3 school rules ‘most irresponsible’ – Auckland Grammar headmaster

An Auckland headmaster says the government’s decision to partially reopen schools is totally irresponsible and teachers are being asked to babysit, not educate.

… teachers and students will still have to keep their social distance. Auckland Grammar Headmaster Tim O’Connor said he had no idea how it would all work.

“It is, from my mindset, one of the most irresponsible decisions for New Zealand education in my time as headmaster of the school.”

Perhaps schools have a responsibility to help out how they can in a time of unprecedented disruption to out society.

O’Connor said that if it’s safe to partially reopen a school under alert level 3, the government should be targeting the students who are most in need in the secondary sector – the Year 12 and 13 students who are sitting NCEA, Cambridge, or International Baccalaureate.

Older students will be best able to mamange their own learning from home.

“The government’s not making a decision about education, it’s making a decision about how to provide child care for reopening the country.

Like everything else education has been massively disrupted by Covid-19.  Principals can’t expect a plan could have been made to carry on with education as usual this term.

It can’t be anything like back to normal. I don’t think teachers will be expected to provide full curriculum learning for all students at school and home. The aim is a partial resumption of studies and allow for a partial resumption of work for some parents. So that’ means a form of babysitting.

Learning from home and transitioning back to school will be a big challenge for schools, but they should be seeing what they can do as best they can in the circumstances.

However it is tricky for teachers concerned about catching the virus, some will not want to go back to schooling pupils in person, and that’s understandable. Resuming classes at school should be optional for them too.

Minister extends NCEA consultation after meeting principals

It’s good to see a positive response from Nikki Kaye to the extension of consultation on NCEA announced by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins. And good to see Hipkins listen and adjust his approach.

NZH: Advisory group of principals and teachers to be set up to consult on NCEA review

Education Minister Chris Hipkins will set up an advisory group of teachers and principals to consult on the NCEA review, and has extended the consultation period after complaints from a coalition of 70 schools which said the process was being rushed.

Hipkins has written to members of the Principals NCEA Coalition today after an urgent meeting last week, confirming that he would speak to his Cabinet colleagues about proposed changes to the proposed review process.

He would establish a professional advisory group made up of principals and teachers, in addition to a ministerial advisory group already set up, to advise him on the outcomes from the review process next year.

In addition, the consultation period would be extended from September 16 until October 19 this year.

“We are grateful to the minister for meeting with us and welcome these initial changes as a good start,” said coalition spokesman Glen Denham, principal of West Auckland’s Massey High School.

“As a 70-strong coalition, we will now begin work on our vision for NCEA and the details of how it should operate. New Zealand’s remaining secondary schools are very welcome to join us. It is vital to get this right for the future of the young people of New Zealand,” Denham said in a statement.

Hipkins had issued an open invitation to principals to meet him last month after the coalition took out a full-page advertisement in newspapers which criticised the NCEA review.

The group called for the review to be halted, describing the consultation process as “bizarre”, putting the views of children ahead of professional educators and lacking proper consultation with school leaders and teachers.

Hipkins previously said he believed the process would be sufficient and would not be extending the consultation period.

Today he said the changes were a “sensible step that acknowledges the issues raised by the coalition.

“We’ve already had about 1000 submissions from teachers and principals but I’m happy to improve the clarity of the process and give principals more opportunities to be heard alongside teachers, parents, students, employers and others.”

It’s refreshing to see a Minister prepared to meet, listen, and improve consultation.

And it’s refreshing to see an Opposition spokesperson who is often critical prepared to back a sensible move.

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.