By: Simon Collins

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has set up a taskforce to ‘clear the clutter’ off teachers’ and principals’ desks.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has promised to scrap some official reporting requirements for teachers to reduce their workloads.

He has set up a taskforce of education sector groups to report by September on how to “clear the clutter” of administrative reporting off teachers’ and principals’ desks.

“The purpose of this taskforce is to identify and assess compliance and administration tasks generated by external government agencies – including the Ministry of Education,” he says in a Cabinet paper released today at an education summit in Christchurch.

“The taskforce will look for those tasks that are unnecessary, overly complex, or duplicative with the aim of redesigning processes and reducing tasks, thereby reducing the burden of compliance and administration on principals and teachers.”

The move is part of developing a wider “workforce strategy” for pre-schools and schools for the next 14 years which goes beyond more urgent measures taken by the former National government and by Hipkins to tackle the immediate teacher shortage, such as scrapping fees temporarily for retraining teachers who have been out of teaching and paying temporary grants to teachers recruited from overseas.

That shortage remains, with an ageing teacher workforce, declining trainee intakes and a short-term jump in student numbers partly due to record immigration.

In the short term, Hipkins promises to “build on” measures he took in December, “including better understanding supply and demand for teachers and how we identify acute pressures that may exist so that we can implement effective interventions ahead of the 2019 school year”.

But he has told Cabinet that he will also develop a 14-year workforce “action plan” by April next year to improve teacher quality as well as numbers.

Hipkins said the plan would include:

  • New requirements for teacher training to be unveiled by the Education Council in the next few months.
  • An Education Advisory Service to “share best-practice, act as mentors and advisers to teachers throughout New Zealand, and oversee all centrally-funded professional learning and development”.
  • A College of Educational Leadership to set minimum requirements for principals and other leaders and ensure that they get professional development.
  • Ensuring that all teachers respond to Māori students’ identity, language and culture and embedding “urgent focus and accountability on equity and excellence for Māori” students.
  • Growing the quality and quantity of te reo Māori in both Māori-language and English-language schools.
  • Requiring teachers to have “knowledge and strategies to effectively teach an increasingly diverse population of children and young people, including people with disabilities”.
  • Planning for enough guidance counsellors, teacher aides and learning support specialists.

The paper stresses that “enabling participation and raising achievement of children and young people with disability and additional support needs is a key aim of this Government”.

“We need a confident, diverse, skilled and inclusive workforce to do this,” it says.

Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin have promised to produce a separate “action plan” on learning support needs by this October.

Source: NZ Herald

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