This government has established a working group to examine and make recommendations about the schooling sector in New Zealand. The aim is to update the Tomorrows schools’ reforms of the 1980s.
The ultimate objective should be:
“Each and every New Zealand child should have access to a quality education from early childhood to senior secondary school.”
A Possible Pathway could be:
1. Establish a national education council. This is comprised of education, community and business representatives. This council provides long-term strategic guidance for all aspects of schooling in NZ. It also provides objective guidance for overall teacher remuneration and school funding based on government budget constraints, the cost of living and the need to attract and retain quality practitioners. This removes the demeaning and wasteful need for periodic industrial action by teachers over pay and conditions.
2. The establishment of a true teacher professional body divided into early childhood, primary and secondary divisions. This would replace teacher unions and the existing Education Council. Representatives in each sector would be democratically elected by teachers in each sector.
3. This professional body would have binding input into pre-service education in each sector including admission requirements, curriculum and the practitioners involved in delivery of pre-service education.
4. This professional body would ultimately control entry into the profession.
5. The abolition of the Education Review Office. The requirement of measuring teacher performance would replace the current ethos of measuring school or entity performance.
6. There is a basic teacher scale and a master teacher scale. Practitioners are eligible to apply for master teacher status after five years. Admission would be administered by the professional body. Admission would be subject to limited but renewable tenure based on rigorous appraisal. Master teachers are then eligible as pre-service educators, mentors and exponents of professional development. This role would involve significant extra remuneration.
6. Eligibility for master teacher status is conducted by the professional body. Entry is based on rigorous 360 degree performance evaluation.
7. The funding and availability of meaningful professional development is centrally funded and administered by the professional body to ensure research and implementation of international best practice and the sharing of domestic best practise. Ongoing professional development is a requirement for all professional teachers.
8. Disciplinary proceedings for poor performance or unethical behaviour are investigated and conducted by the professional body.
9. Curriculum development and assessment are constantly reviewed and updated by the professional body in conjunction with government agencies to ensure relevance and best international practice.
10. Appraisal of basic scale teachers initially occurs within their entity. Provisional teachers are mentored by a master teacher. Teachers dissatisfied with this appraisal can request external appraisal by their professional body. This would involve a refundable bond requirement.
In recent decades the ethos in schooling in New Zealand has been dominated by the concept of competition between schools. This only serves to magnify the inequalities in our society. We need a system that ensures all students are taught by high quality teachers. Teachers need to work in a system where they are well remunerated, professionally supported and rewarded but also accountable for their performance. Schools are the vehicle but teachers are the drivers of a quality schooling system.
Peter Lyons teaches Economics at Saint Peters College in Epsom. He has written several Economics texts.
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