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 planning largest NZ strike ever

Primary and secondary school teachers are planning New Zealand’s largest strike ever the day before the budget. The Government has said they doing have enough money to meet the teacher’s demands.

I guess targeting the budget is symbolic, but it will be far too late to influence this year’s budget, which will have been settled weeks ago,.

RNZ:  NZ primary and secondary teachers vote for largest ever strike

Primary and secondary teachers across New Zealand have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking joint strike action.

The two teachers’ unions – NZEI and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association – announced today a “mega-strike” on 29 May.

Primary teachers and principals have voted in secret ballots at meetings across the country over the last week, while the PPTA held an online ballot of secondary school teachers.

The joint strike will be the largest ever industrial action taken in New Zealand, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions.

Both groups have refused to settle for three pay rises of 3 percent each and their talks with the Education Ministry have been deadlocked for months.

The government has insisted it will not increase the total value of its offers, which it said were more than $1.2 billion over four years. The government is willing to rearrange how the money might be applied to pay rises and staff claims.

Ridiculed ‘teacher’ bill dropped

A New Zealand First members’ bill that would have restricted who could call themselves a teacher has been dropped. Sometimes ridicule can be effective.

Newshub:  NZ First drops ‘severely flawed’ Bill restricting use of word ‘teacher’

New Zealand First has abandoned a controversial Member’s Bill which would have placed restrictions who can call themselves a teacher.

On Monday, MP Jenny Marcroft announced she had withdrawn the ‘Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill’ after a “positive discussion” between her party and the office of the Minister of Education.

She says the launch of the nationwide initiative ‘Education Conversation 2018’ over the weekend has given her renewed confidence in the country’s respect for teachers.

“Add this to the multiple trains of work the Minister of Education is undertaking and I see a real commitment to raising and recognising the status of our teaching profession which gives me confidence that my Member’s Bill is no longer needed.”

The Bill would have meant that only those who have trained and are qualified as teachers can use the title in order to “lift the status of teachers”.

It would have become an offence, punishable with a $2000 fine, to connect the word with any unqualified person or business. People who were not qualified would have had to use the title of lecturer, tutor or educator instead.

The proposed Bill was harshly criticised by National, which NZ First MP Tracey Martin called “scaremongering”.

I think it was criticised and ridiculed quite widely.

National education spokesperson Nikki Kaye: Coalition Govt finally sees sense on teacher title bill

The withdrawal of the Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill is a big win for hardworking swimming teachers, music teachers, ballet teachers and other teachers affected by the bill, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“It’s clear that National’s campaign against this flawed bill has succeeded. The lack of work on the bill to determine the number of people affected, the costings, and the general impact that the bill would have had meant that it was destined to fail.

Fair enough for Kaye to claim some credit for National, but there was other pressure as well.

“The bill’s misguided attempt to raise the status of the teaching profession by stopping those who have not gained recognised teaching qualifications from calling themselves ‘teachers’ was not even supported by the teaching profession.

“It’s extraordinary that it got to Select Committee with the support of Labour and the Greens despite opposition from the Government’s own Attorney-General David Parker.

“It’s good that Jenny Marcroft has recognised the overwhelming opposition to the bill she inherited from Tracey Martin and made the right call to drop it. Her heart was in the right place but the bill was not well thought-through.

“People who teach swimming, music, dance or art make a significant contribution in our communities and should have every right to call themselves teachers. Fining them for using that title would have done nothing to raise the status of qualified school teachers.

“There are far better ways to raise the status of teachers. We need to make sure we have high quality graduates choosing teaching as a career and investing in professional learning and development opportunities.

If this bill had been passed the Government would have worn the ridicule, including Labour.

I presume NZ First discovered they wouldn’t get the numbers so it was better to withdraw it rather than have it fail.


Legal ring fencing of the word ‘teacher’ proposed

It may become illegal to use the word ‘teacher’ unless you have a specific university degree – namely ” a three-year Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor’s degree with a one-year Diploma of Teaching, or a conjoint degree that combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training”.

This sort of silliness could be a coalition killer.

Newshub: Proposed Bill to restrict use of word ‘teacher’

A Bill which would make it illegal to use the title ‘teacher’ without a formal qualification is before a select committee.

Submissions for The Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill, fronted by New Zealand First MP Jenny Marcroft, closed on Friday.

It aims to “lift the status of teachers” by removing the ability of those without the qualification to represent themselves with that title.

“Clarity around the use of the title of teacher is essential in order to avoid any misunderstanding by the public about the qualifications,” the proposed Bill reads.

It would become an offence, punishable with a $2000 fine, to connect the word with any unqualified person or business.

Qualifications which could use the title are a three-year Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor’s degree with a one-year Diploma of Teaching, or a conjoint degree that combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training.

Those who aren’t qualified can still use the titles of lecturer, tutor or educator.

Educator sounds more school orientated to me than teacher.

I guess this is trying to emulate restrictions on the use of the word ‘doctor’ or the words ‘sir’ or ‘dame’, but it is risky using legislation to limit the use of such a widely used word like teacher.

National education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says the Bill “jeopardises many of our current teachers and early childhood teachers”.

“It has the potential to undermine and devalue our many educators who contribute to the wellbeing of our country.

“The impact of the Bill is not even isolated to the education sector. Are we going to fine every music teacher, dance teacher, and swimming teacher?”

“Even the Attorney-General has come out against the bill as it breaches the Bill of Rights, yet the Government continues to support it.”

But Ms Marcroft says it’s “nonsense” that there’s currently no differentiation between those that have “significant skills and training” and those who don’t.

“If we are going to have strong partnerships with whānau and communities to improve the educational outcomes of all tamariki, we must ensure the professional status of teachers is recognised,” she says.

“The Bill will elevate the public status of teachers and provide parents with a clear distinction between teachers who are fully trained and qualified, and those who are not.”

It’s highly questionable trying to legally limit the use of a common word used in a wide variety of ways.

Oxford dictionary: doctor

A person who is qualified to treat people who are ill.

North American A qualified dentist or veterinary surgeon.

A person who holds the highest university degree.

They are well established uses.

Oxford dictionary: teacher

A person who teaches, especially in a school.

That’s far more general.

This legislation seems to be a misguided attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

What about home teaching?

If the Government wants to assign a unique word to teachers they should make one up rather than legally ring fence a widely used and interpreted word.

Enough of that, now I must move on to teach you lot how to comment properly – perhaps you should have to be qualified?

Pushing politics in Primary School

From an ironically named column at The Spinoff: Group Think: Winston goes with Labour:

I spoke to my eight year old daughter, heard the immense happiness in her voice. Her teacher had made her a committed Greens/Labour booster and it’s been the sweetest thing I’ve been near in a while to witness.

I think it is alarming and highly unprofessional for primary school teachers (or any teachers) to be pushing politics through their pupils.

If I had found out a teacher of my kids had pushed political views to my children, or religious views or drugs, I would have been livid.

Fair enough to teach kids about politics and the different political parties, and about our political leaders, but promoting specific politicians and parties to and through children is, I think, disgraceful.

Status versus teaching

Today’s ODT editorial looks at the push to higher education for teachers, versus what makes teaching effective in Various degrees of teaching

Teachers play a significant role in the development of young people, some of it good, some of it bad.

I was taught stuff but largely uninspired by my education. Since leaving school most of what I have learnt that has been of benefit has been on the job and self taught.

In what must be one of the last acts of Education Minister Hekia Parata, she is backing a shift to make would-be teachers complete a degree in their chosen subject as well as a post-graduate qualification in teaching.

The Education Council is moving towards a position that all people wanting to become teachers – in early childhood, primary and secondary – should be required to have a bachelor-level degree, as well as a post-graduate level qualification in teaching.

One thing inherent in the success of any teacher is the ability to communicate with pupils of all ages. A teacher can be the brightest and smartest person in the room, but without being able to change the motivation of pupils to believe it is in their best interest to learn, success will remain elusive.

The most highly educated teacher I had, Professor Nimmo, ‘taught’ me 6th form physics – if you call writing screes of words on a scrolling blackboard that we were supposed to copy verbatim and learn from. While I knew how to do enough to pass exams that was very uninspiring.

The teacher who connected the best, albeit in small patches, was someone teaching outside of their main interest. It was hard to package the prose Shakespeare and a comparison of West and East Pakistan in an exciting way, but I remember Graeme Sydney trying a few tricks to stir interest up. He was an inspiring rugby coach, which was my real passion. A couple of years later he left teaching to go pursue a career in painting.

A degree in a subject is a good thing, but there are concerns a post-graduate degree will lead to qualification inflation, where teaching methods are secondary to a list of letters after a name.

At an early childhood level, the most important qualification is understanding human behaviour and development, rather than content. How the youngest in the education system develop has a life-long effect on their lives, as the longitudinal study run in Dunedin continues to show.

One of my grandkids went to a very good Early Childhood Centre. I have no idea what qualifications anyone there had, but the kids loved them and they had them doing all sorts of fun things – including working together to write a book illustrated by the kids.

The only thing I remember from my pre-school was sitting on the mat waiting to be given a quarter of an apple for a snack – that seemed very odd because I picked my own whole apples at home.

The Education Council is moving towards a view of all teaching training in the future being at a post-graduate level. This goes back to the core purpose of the council, to raise the status of the profession.

But the ‘status’ of teachers is a self-interested focus, effectively teaching kids should be the priority.

I know of a teacher from twenty years ago who had a van so he could sleep in it to avoid drink driving – whatever his qualifications were they didn’t determine his status.

Having a degree convinces employers the person has the ability to learn, understand and adapt – all important traits for teachers. However, the ability to literally teach a subject must be the most important consideration.

Surely any post-graduate teaching degree must concentrate on applying the valuable skills of motivation and communication.

I love looking up topics of interest online, I do it a lot. It’s far more interesting and effective than reading a text book or encyclopaedia. But I’ve obviously changed a lot since my primary and teenage years.

I have done a lot of looking up stuff of interest on the ‘net with grandkids, but if given the choice they would choose to watch cartoons or play games.

The competition for gaining children’s attention and teaching them things they will enjoy and benefit from must be a real challenge for teachers today.

I’m not sure how a post graduate qualification will help that. By the time a high falutin’ course has been developed and taught things are likely to have already changed again.

Teachers need to be able to learn as they go, and keep up with the play, because that’s what kids have to be able to do.


Teacher quality versus class size

It’s easy to sell a smaller class size policy. On the surface it seems a no-brainer. First points to Labour (and the teacher unions).

But would pupils and their parents choose (smaller) class size over the quality of teacher?

I know from my own experience as a pupil, and as a parent of pupils, that in hoping for or pushing for a particular class the teacher was always the primary consideration.

Would I choose a poor teacher with a class of 20 or a great teacher with a class of 25? 30?

If parents and pupils could choose their class then crap teachers would have tiny classes and the best teachers would have the biggest classes.

Teacher quality versus class size will be an interesting debate through this election campaign.


Major problem with education protests

There’s a major problem with today’s education protests. They have been organised by NZEI, who have been trying to motivate and cajole teachers into joining the protests.

See NZ Education InstituteStand up for kids and The NZEI campaign.


The Government is trying to create a crisis in education and impose a business model on our world class education system. This model, known as the GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) has infected other countries by introducing standardisation, competition and test based accountability.

Good grief, world wide conspiracy.

In ECE, the Government says it wants to test ECE’s effectiveness through measuring “outputs”. This may affect funding of services, Te Whaariki and the way we assess children.

But we have the antidote!

It’s all of us fighting to protect a quality education system which is fair and equitable, based on collaboration and trust and where every child’s learning needs are met.

This is a teachers’ union and teachers protesting about Government proposed changes to education. They don’t want to be told how they should teach kids, and they don’t want to be told

Shouldn’t it be parents standing up for their kids?

Shouldn’t it be parents protesting if the don’t like the changes?

Shouldn’t it be parents demanding what sort of educational opportunities the want their kids to have?

  • Nurses don’t protest about what sort of health care people should get.
  • Police don’t protest over how they should fight crime.
  • IRD employees don’t protest over how people should be taxed.

Why should teachers be dictating how they do their jobs and how our kids are educated? They are employed by Government to teach everyone’s children.

They have experience and expertise that can make a valuable contribution to determine what education policy should be,  along with politicians – and parents.

But teachers should not dictate what they will do and what they won’t do in their employment.

What parents want and need should be paramount, and teachers should be prepared to do what is asked of them.

If they wanted to be genuinely…

…fighting to protect a quality education system which is fair and equitable, based on collaboration and trust and where every child’s learning needs are met…

…they would collaborate with parents and politicians and Government officials to work out together what parents thought would be best for their children.

But teachers seem to be confusing their own paranoia, politics and ideologies with their roles as teachers of children and servants of parents.

And what NZEI is saying is that children that don’t do well in the current system, and parents of children who don’t do well, have to either struggle with the current system or drop out and fail – as happens now.

Comparatively we have a very good education system, but it fails many kids. Teachers and teacher unions have to understand that for some kids and parents change is necessary. And it should be the parents of those kids demanding and protesting, not teachers wanting to retain the status quo.