It is really pleasing to hear that the Minister of Education has requested to meet the teacher unions on Thursday. As a past member of PPTA for 50 years, my experience was always that the union made clear criteria for settlement, but the 2018-2019 negotiations have been blurred by the several perspectives that members seem to have about what is required for settlement. Most members emphasize that the settlement is all about salary, while others claim that the settlement must include better conditions of time, respect, staff recruitment and teacher to student ratio. It certainly appears that there are differences of opinion and strategy.
- The need to form an agreement about the current Collective Contract agreements is not just about 2019 and 2020.
- It is about the changes to teaching philosophy and the new teaching and learning framework that is needed. It is about a totally new NZ Curriculum that could be and should be developed.
- It is about the diverse teaching-learning-assessment strategies needed for 21st Century teaching, learning, and student development.
- It is about the effects of the Review of Tomorrow’s Schools and the administrative changes that are coming.
- It is about current and future changes to NCEA and the changes that are possible in Literacy and Numeracy.
- Teachers must be aware of the huge changes that seem inevitable and the need for several steps of salary increase to be guaranteed, not just one for 2019.
This meeting with the PPTA and NZEI unions is a big concession by the Government and a BIG opportunity to gain considerable leverage into transforming New Zealand education into 21st Century education, BUT it comes with BIG conditional and salary requirements too.
While subject-based teaching and learning is still valuable and essential, teachers need to develop a much wider perspective about the new paradigm of education 21C. New Zealand education leaders and teachers are making amazing changes in education in accordance with the Values and Key Competencies outlined in the 2007 NZ Curriculum Framework. However, we all need to look at the education futures 21C with both eyes and use that vision as the inspiration to transition to the 21st-century education paradigm.
The vision of the development of a new teaching-learning-assessment framework, a changed curriculum, and new teaching and learning perspectives such as Concept-Based Inquiry at Years 1 to 12, all need to be made tangible through major PLD requirements that are linked to recognised teacher post-graduate qualifications and step-wise salary increases. There needs to be changes made to the NZ Curriculum, teaching and learning strategies and student management. Developments to understand strategies needed to support development of student agency, learning dispositions, together with capabilities and competencies will require considerable efforts and developed understandings by teachers.
The development of new administrative structures, teaching, learning and assessment strategies for concept-based Inquiry and authentic assessment will be demanding. The stresses and strategic processes of those developments through PLD required to achieve those changes must be rewarded through considerable salary increases that recognise the professional pathway of teaching.
There needs to be deep understanding and discussion between the Minister of Education and his negotiating group with the NZEI and PPTA Union Executive members about the detail of the imminent changes that are extremely likely and required in the next 5 to 10 years.
New Zealand must make efforts to catch up with education developments and advances being made in UK, Ontario, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, USA and Australia. New Zealand educators must look at the evidence from international sources to see the paradigm change required in New Zealand.
The Government does need to provide a small increase to the current salary offer if necessary, but the Government needs to negotiate now for guaranteed improvements in staffing and recruitment, increases in salary steps and conditions that are complementary to supporting and resourcing PLD-teacher post-graduate qualification programmes that provide qualification recognition for teachers educators and support for middle and senior managers.
My suggestion to implement the support of Mobile Education Facilitation Managers (MEFM) would align to these requirements. Unfortunately, Education Hubs will not be as effective as MEFM to facilitate and promote all these developments since each school leadership team needs to respond to the changes within their own special character, with their own pathway, but within a definite time frame.
The current difficulties are stone-walling the progress towards the new education paradigm for 21st Century teaching, learning and assessment. It is essential that there is collaborative effort between the Government and the NZEI and PPTA. The most successful education improvements were made in 1978 when both the Government and the unions combined collaboratively. We need to see these conditions repeated in 2019 to 2025.