QPEC

Gloriavale Christian Community School: What does it teach?

Gloriavale Christian Community School: What does it teach?

27 April 2015

Registered by the state; inspected by the Education Review Office, and partially funded by taxpayers – but what is taught there?

Liz Gordon, co-Convenor of QPEC, has been researching the Gloriavale School for three years. She has concluded that the ‘education’ that takes place there deprives young people of their human rights, supports a context that allows girls to be sexually abused and teaches young people a false curriculum – all sanctioned by the state.... more

Funding for education success going to …. the educationally successful!

Funding for education success going to …. the educationally successful!

23 March 2015

QPEC wants to know why the extra resources provided by the government’s flagship teacher policy are overwhelmingly being captured by the schools that cater for the wealthiest suburbs of our richest city.

“It is now clear the ‘education for success’ is a policy to keep National and ACT voters in Epsom and Remuera happy, rather than to lift the educational achievement in our poorer communities” says John Minto, QPEC spokesperson.

“The glaring anomaly is that 21 of the 43 new teaching positions doled out in this funding round have gone to very wealthy communities in central and north Auckland.

“This is the government’s one big initiative in seven years to raise student achievement but ‘success’ funding is going to the already successful.

Low decile areas have been promised additional resources – they are the government’s priority. The lowest decile group of schools allocated funding will get only 2 additional teachers, and that is the only group in which most of the schools are serve poor communities.

The policy is supposed to provide expert teachers to support learning in areas that need it, but instead the majority of the resources in this round have gone to many of the richest schools in the country.

“The rich get richer and the poor get zilch”, said John Minto.

 

ENDS

Are partnership schools more trouble than they are worth?

Are partnership schools more trouble than they are worth?

19 February 2015

When National fundamentally altered the Education Act to provide for a new, non-accountable, category of schools, the justification was that these schools needed to be freed from the shackles of government regulation in order to provide excellent education to high risk students.

Today it was revealed in the House that no Partnership/ charter School has included a single high needs student, leaving the state schools in those areas to grapple with the most challenging students. It appears that these schools have found ways to cream off the best students among high needs groups, leaving the rest for state schools to tackle. More

Fee paying education not in our interests

Fee paying education not in our interests

15 February 2015

Dr Liz Gordon, QPEC spokesperson and educational researcher, today argued against proposals being aired in the media to allow state schools to charge fees.

“In 1877, in the middle of a long recession, New Zealand politicians passed an Act of Parliament stating that schooling should be ‘free, compulsory and secular’”, she said.

“The trade-off for requiring children to attend school was that the schooling, and if necessary transport to school, would be available at no charge”.

Dr Gordon notes that the right to free education has been eroded over the years. “Most parents now pay a fortune for school uniforms, stationery and, increasingly, capital items such as laptops and tablets”..  More...

Inteuri buys ITTI

Inteuri buys ITTI

6 February 2015

 "Inteuri's purchase of ITTI (the Information Technology Training Institute) continues the process of undermining public tertiary education in New Zealand," says Dr David Cooke, spokesperson for QPEC, the Quality Public Education Coalition.  More....

David Cooke: 027 404 9721  

Tertiary education spokesperson

As predicted, charter schools in trouble

As predicted, charter schools in trouble

1 February 2015

Statement from joint spokespeople

When the government changed the Education Act to allow for charter schools, it bet that a bunch of non-educators using their own untested theories of education could run schools for our most disadvantaged students and achieve better results than state schools.

Not only that, it stacked the decks by deliberately removing the charter schools from the checks and balances that all state schools must face and gave them more money (as a series of set-up grants). For example, these schools are exempt from making disclosures under the Official Information Act, despite the fact that they are government funded.

The policy was always ideological, always about neo-liberal thinking rather than straight thinking. In Sweden and the UK, charter school models (free schools) are contributing to the decline of educational outcomes. There are calls for change in both countries.

In the USA, scandal after scandal has swept charter schools: poor teaching, poor facilities, financial scams, corruption, profiteering, abrupt closures of failed schools, political patronage, abuse…. Almost everything that could go wrong in these schools has done so, often over and over again. QPEC has been tracking US charter schools daily for over two years ago now, and not only are many of them an educational disgrace but they continue to contribute to the overall educational collapse of the USA in world educational rankings. Per dollar spent, US schools are the world’s worst.

The public was told things would be different in New Zealand (despite depressingly similar policy settings). But our own tiny number of such schools have already suffered from student loss, concerns over quality and now a new school is being led by a principal under investigation by the Teachers Council for potential serious misconduct. This is a clear example of de-regulation leading to poor practice.

The Minister calls these “teething troubles”.

QPEC calls them an educational disaster in the making, and calls on this government to stop this experiment, which is following the worst practices of schools internationally and will not improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged.

There is no empirical research that supports this model of charter schools, and plenty of evidence against the model. It is being driven by the first term right wing ACT MP, David Seymour, who promises to support these schools through thick, thin and very expensive, success or failure – competition at all costs, and the taxpayer must pay.

 

John Minto

0220850161

Liz Gordon

0274545008

QPEC National Spokespeople

28 January 2015

28 January 2015

State housing sell-off will harm vulnerable children 

“The government’s planned sell-off of state housing will cause serious harm to the education of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children”, says QPEC Spokesperson John Minto.

Pushing more low-income families into the private housing market and social housing will mean another increase in transience (children changing schools frequently) because more families will struggle to pay the higher rents.

Housing from private landlords and social housing providers is typically much more expensive than income-related rents provided through state housing. When income-related rents were introduced, school transience reduced. This policy will have the opposite effect.

The effect will be to destabilise more families and increase the educationally-disastrous levels of transience. Some schools in low-income areas already have a student turnover of more than half their school roll each year because of transience related directly to poverty.

These transient children are the students who are failing. They make up the “long tail of underachievement” the government says it wants to address.

However National’s policy of selling state houses will increase the huge pool of children changing schools frequently. It will throw up more barriers to education for the children who need the most help.

“Selling state houses is a very cynical policy targeted at families already struggling with issues related to poverty and inequality. John Key’s trademark is to be able to say with a straight face that policies that are destructive to the poor are good for everyone. But there is no good news story with this announcement – only another rise in housing costs for those least able to afford it”, says John Minto.

State housing provides affordable income related rents and helps stabilise families. We need more state houses to stabilise more children and enable them to succeed at school. QPEC challenges the government to find any family paying income-related rents who will be better off or have a more stable existence as a result of this policy.

 

John Minto

0220850161

Liz Gordon

0274545008

QPEC National Spokespeople

 

Government misguided to base funding on employment outcomes

20 November 2014

 

“QPEC is alarmed at proposals to tie tertiary education funding to "employment outcomes," says QPEC tertiary education spokesperson Dr David Cooke.

Ministry briefings, the Ministry of Education, the TEC and Treasury recommend a change in funding "away from student numbers and qualification levels to outcomes."  

Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce today commented favourably on this suggestion.

“Tertiary institutions contribute significantly and consistently to employment and work, but it is not their function to provide employment,” says Dr Cooke. “Their role is to deliver first-class, leading edge education.   This they do.   But as thousands of job applicants in NZ can testify, getting a job is uncertain and capricious.”

“While tertiaries regularly and actively help and support job-seekers, the employment market is constantly forbidding and dependent on factors well outside the control of universities, polytechnics and potential workers.   In any given year, there could be few opportunities in certain categories of jobs, while in later years the position might change for the better.”

“As a nation, we should be mature enough to recognise that tertiary institutions contribute to the country's wealth and richness in many ways in addition to preparing people for jobs.”

“It would be totally misguided to base funding on employment outcomes.”

 

Dr David Cooke

QPEC Tertiary Education Spokesperson

027 404 9721  

d.cooke@xtra.co.nz

Don't dump the decile system until there is a workable alternative!

Don't dump the decile system until there is a workable alternative!

13 November 2014

Liz Gordon has been following arguments around the school decile system since 1989 and argues that it should not be dumped until a better approach has been developed - and that hasn't happened yet! Read the press release here....

Another $15 million to be wasted on failed charter schools policy

Another $15 million to be wasted on failed charter schools policy

11 September 2014

Four new schools are to be opened under the Partnership Schools banner in Auckland and Whangarei. QPEC Chair, Bill Courtney, notes that he is most concerned, given the lack of accountability already evident in the programme.
“The Minister and Catherine Isaac have been unable to answer some key questions about the policy and the five existing schools”, Mr. Courtney notes.  More....

Charter Schools now even smaller and more expensive

Charter Schools now even smaller and more expensive

9 September 2014.  Bill Courtney

NZ’s charter school experiment is proving to be even more expensive than first thought, as two schools have experienced falling rolls since the start of the 2014 school year and three remain below what is termed their “Guaranteed Minimum Roll” for funding purposes.

As a result, the number of students enrolled has fallen to 358 across the 5 charter schools and the schools will now receive an average of $20,878 in per capita funding this year.

Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, discussed the controversial initiative on TV’s Q&A programme last weekend, describing it as a “…niche sort of thing…”

But the argument that this is only a “niche” is in stark contrast with ACT Party policy. The ACT Party wants to expand the charter school programme and ultimately convert all state schools into privately operated charter schools.

The arguments behind the establishment of NZ charter schools have always been weak and the Working Group, led by former ACT Party President, Catherine Isaac, never produced a written report.

This is in contrast to former ACT MP John Banks’s claim in Parliament that we could learn from the successes and failures of charter schools overseas. But with no written report from his former party president, we simply don’t know how the NZ model supposedly does this.

Two charter secondary schools, Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru and the Vanguard Military School, have seen their rolls fall by around 10% between March and July: Whangaruru from 63 to 56 and Vanguard from 104 to 93.

Under the terms of the charter school contracts, each school is funded for the full year at a minimum level set in advance at the start of the year. Whangaruru is funded for 71 students and Vanguard is funded for 108 students. In addition, the primary school, Rise Up Academy, is funded at a level of 50 students but has only 46 students as at 1 July.

Based on the 1 July roll returns, Whangaruru will now receive $26,939 per student in 2014 and Vanguard will receive $22,837 per student (see table below).

 

School

“Guaranteed Minimum Roll”

March Roll

July Roll

2014 Minimum Operational

Funding

($ p.a.)

$ per student (March Roll)

$ per student (July Roll)

South Auckland Middle School

90

108

110

1,340,944

12,416

12,190

Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru

71

63

56

1,508,561

23,945

26,939

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa

50

50

53

2,016,630

40,333

38,050

Rise Up Academy

50

42

46

484,444

11,534

10,531

Vanguard Military School

108

104

93

2,123,804

20,421

22,837

Total

369

367

358

$7,474,383

$20,366

$20,878

 S o across the 5 charter schools, total student enrolment has fallen to 358 and the average minimum operational funding cost per student for 2014 has increased to $20,878.

 In practice, actual funding per student may be higher than these estimated figures, if the school roll has exceeded its “guaranteed minimum roll”, as the contract stipulates funding will be set at the greater of the two.

 One further aspect that disturbs us, is that the Vanguard Military School is sponsored by a for-profit family owned company. Will the fixed revenue stream be spent on the remaining students or will it fall into the Income Statement of the Sponsor?

 QPEC reiterates its call for a review of this controversial policy.

 QPEC also wants to see a major review of school funding take place after the election. It is time to re-examine all aspects of school funding and to seek a more equitable basis for funding our most deserving students and the community schools that serve them.

 

8 September 2014

ACT Party supports big spending policy – price no object!

The ACT party has foisted a secretive, undemocratic, expensive and ideological experiment on New Zealand taxpayers with its so-called Partnership Schools.

 ACT, the party of so-called fiscal responsibility, is quite happy to squander more then seventeen million taxpayer dollars on five small schools.

QPEC is concerned the policy has set up the conditions for the same kind of scams, fraud, mismanagement and poor academic performance that is plaguing charter schools in the United States.

Now the Epsom candidate is crowing that the “children are thrilled” to be going to these five schools. QPEC would like to know how the ACT candidate knows this.

No information on these schools is available through the Official Information Act, because the National Government legislated that the schools could work in complete secrecy.

There is no National Standards data so no public record of how they are doing.

We do know that the schools are costing taxpayers more than double the price of a state school education, and that three of the five schools had enrolment numbers below the guaranteed minimum at 31 March.

Local communities concerned were never consulted on whether they even want a so-called partnership school, nor on whether it is needed, nor on how they are expected to continue to offer a quality public education when such a well-funded school is set up alongside them.

QPEC is concerned that the ACT Party, having set these schools up to avoid public disclosure, is now claiming that they are successful, when they cannot know that. All we do know is that they are extremely expensive.

In the light of the Dirty Politics scandal, any political group that trumpets the success of a secretive, taxpayer funded scheme, needs to come under scrutiny.

Candidate David Seymour, who is likely to become an MP due to a deal between National and ACT, has been quite specific in supporting the South Auckland Middle School, a fundamentalist Christian partnership school.

We think it is highly inappropriate for David Seymour to be “going to Wellington”, as he said, to advocate for individual schools, or for a system that deliberately hides funding from taxpayers. Where is the openness and transparency the ACT used to support?

ENDS

Contact: Dr Liz Gordon 0274545008

Charter school loses 10% of roll

Charter school loses 10% of roll

Wednesday 13 August 2014

The new military charter school on Auckland’s North Shore has lost 10% of its students since opening in February this year, figures released by the Ministry of Education show.

QPEC chairperson Bill Courtney says this is a sign that the charter school experiment is failing, and should quickly be stopped to avoid any more students being disadvantaged.

Vanguard Military School opened in February with 104 students. But according to its 1 July roll return to the Ministry of Education, only 93 students were on the roll 5 months later. This is before the second term had even finished.

“Vanguard is funded for 108 students this year” says Mr Courtney, according to its contract with the Ministry, which has set the “Guaranteed Minimum Roll” at 108 students.

“But unlike state schools, it has lost no funding as a result of these students leaving, as the funding is guaranteed for the year. “

QPEC is questioning what made such a high proportion of students leave. “The Ministry of Education raised concerns during the application process about this school’s military culture and zero-tolerance ethos, and how that would fit with being inclusive. It seems these concerns may have been justified” said Mr Courtney.

“It is well known from the experience of charter schools overseas that charter schools ‘counsel out’ difficult students who could bring down school grades.

Is this something that could well be going on at Vanguard?”

ENDS

John Banks gives two-fingered salute to parliament with charter school board appointments

John Banks gives two-fingered salute to parliament with charter school board appointments

Media Release - 3 March 2013

Act Party leader and Associate Education Minister John Banks has given a two-fingered salute to parliament with his premature appointment of the government’s new charter school authorisation board.

He is arrogantly undermining the authority of parliament itself which has yet to pass the enabling legislation to even allow these publicly-funded, privately-operated schools to operate.

Act Party appointment to the Charter School Working Group Catherine Isaacs did a similar thing before Xmas when she called for expressions of interest from those wanting to run charter schools – before parliament had heard a single submission on the charter school proposal.

In typical fashion Banks is also setting up charter schools to be an unaccountable success by making it clear the new Board “…will have a role in the regular review and monitoring of their [charter schools] performance to ensure agreed targets are achieved.”

So the same Board that approves school applications will monitor their success. This creates an obvious conflict of interest as those who approve applications will typically be the last to admit failure.

Banks waited till public submissions on the bill ended before making his announcement to avoid criticism of his appointments – none of whom have a track record of improving schooling outcomes for children from low-income communities.

And yet these children are the very group which Act says will be the focus of charter schools.

This is not about improving education for Maori, Pacifika or children from low income communities. Instead these are political appointments to drive a political policy which uses some of our most vulnerable students as guinea pigs for an experiment which has already been an epic fail every country it has been implemented.

Feinberg and Failure

Feinberg and Failure

Comment - 1 October 2012

By any rational measure last week’s New Zealand visit by KIPP charter schools co-founder Mike Feinberg was a failure.

Feinberg was brought here by wealthy “philanthro-capitalist” Julian Robertson to promote the case for charter schools in New Zealand. Feinberg’s KIPP (Knowledge is Power) charter schools were specifically mentioned in the ACT/ National coalition agreement as an example of excellent charter schools which had overcome socio-economic disadvantage and gained excellent achievement for children from low-income communities and ethnic minorities. New Zealand should emulate KIPP we were told. This was of course despite the fact neither party mentioned charter schools in their election policies or during last year’s election campaign.

But despite no obvious interest in charter schools the right-wing thought they could swing New Zealand around to the idea with some old-fashioned barnstorming using a passionate charter school advocate. Feinberg has been successful spinning for charter schools in the US so why wouldn’t he do well in New Zealand?

But it wasn’t to be. Feinberg was here for four days and spoke to public meetings in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland but all the meetings were small and politically insignificant. In Wellington there were 80-100 people, in Christchurch 20 (sic) and in Auckland 102 spread out in an auditorium which could seat 550.

The low turnouts weren’t for the lack of trying. The ACT party promoted the meetings through corporate networks and Feinberg enjoyed lots of positive largely-uncritical media coverage early in his visit. On his arrival in New Zealand for example the New Zealand Herald devoted almost a whole page to a favourable interview with him and included prominent free advertising for his three New Zealand public meetings.

Feinberg did many other radio and TV interviews in the few days leading up to his last Auckland meeting which was clearly designed to be the highlight of the visit – huge auditorium, New Zealand’s largest city, lots of free publicity, charismatic speaker. The recipe seemed right. All that was needed was to get the a big crowd going with an evangelical message of choice and the case would be sealed.

It didn’t work. Only 102 showed up and at least a third were opposed to charter schools. Another third would have been Act Party members and the last third was hard to pick.

Feinberg gave his presentation with lost of passion, personal anecdotes and well rehearsed lines. Nothing surprising there but in question time he was evasive and disingenuous.

The first questioner asked Feinberg about claims KIPP schools had a 40% dropout rate of African American boys. Feinberg said it came from just one school in about 2003 which he implied was a rogue school and that they had fixed up the problem. He was challenged on this later when another questioner (myself) raised the 2011 study by West Michigan University which found an average 30% dropout rate in KIPP schools nationwide before Year 9 and a massive 40% dropout rate for African American boys. Comparable dropout rates in public schools were just 8%.

Feinberg was forced to then acknowledge the research but said it was shoddy and poorly conducted. Instead he said we should read the Mathematica research which was genuinely independent and it said KIPP had similar dropout rates to public schools. When I had a second opportunity later to ask another question I suggested to him the Mathematica research was “vested-interest” research because it was commissioned by KIPP and paid for by KIPP’s corporate backers. Feinberg avoided the question and instead repeated that the West Michigan research was shoddy and paid for by teacher unions as though that negated it automatically. He was warmly applauded by the Act acolytes.

But despite the poor turnouts and lack of resonance with the public the government will press ahead with its charter school proposals because it wants to drive a wedge into public education – especially since it has faced such staunch resistance to its national standards/league tables policies from a sector determined to defend quality public education.

Driving this wedge will mean getting groups or sections of communities to agree to split off from public provision of education. The Charter Schools working group will now redouble its efforts to get Maori and Pacifika groups in particular to buy into charter schools before the first proposals are sought from interested groups next year for a 2014 start.

QPEC will continue to work to resist charter schools because we know from what’s happened overseas that proposals such as these weaken and undermine public education and have the most negative impact ont he very students they are supposed to help. Whether its beneficiary bashing, charter schools, league tables, the government is using the poor to advance the agenda of the 1%.

 

John Minto

National Chairperson

QPEC

 

Resources on KIPP and charter schools:

  1. The Research on charter schools by the Massey University Policy Response Group is here.
  2. QPEC’s leaflet on charter schools is here.

KIPP SCHOOLS PUBLIC MEETING IN CHRISTCHURCH TONIGHT!!!

KIPP SCHOOLS PUBLIC MEETING IN CHRISTCHURCH TONIGHT!!!

 

The charter-mongers

Tonight, Mike Feinberg will speak at a public meeting in Christchurch about the amazing success of his KIPP schools. The ‘Knowledge is Power Programme’ runs 125 schools across the US enrolling 40,000 students. It was mentioned by John Banks as the kind of programme to be encouraged here.

Feinberg’s visit has been funded by the Aotearoa Foundation, which is the local arm of the right wing USA-based Robertson Foundation. The philosophy of this new breed of ‘philanthrocapitalist’ is to use corporate giving to influence government policy, in particular towards the privatisation of public goods such as education. There is therefore a hidden agenda underlying this visit.

After 20 years of charter schools and thousands of new schools opened, the overall position of American schools on international league tables should have improved dramatically if the policy had been successful. It has not, and the USA is many places below New Zealand schools on scores of literacy, numeracy and science.

KIPP claims excellent results for its students. With a school day from 7.30am to 5pm, and several hours compulsory, supervised homework each night, plus half a day on Saturday, there is certainly plenty of time for learning. The emphasis is on learning to pass standardised tests, and on good behaviour. Concern has been expressed about the boot-camp mentality. One researcher, Howard Berlak, noted the following:

When I was there children who followed all the rules were given points that could be exchanged for goodies at the school store. Those who resisted the rules or were slackers wore a large sign pinned to their clothes labelled "miscreant." Miscreants sat apart from the others at all times including lunch, were denied recess and participation in all other school projects and events.. . . . I've spent many years in schools. This one felt like a humane, low security prison or something resembling a locked-down drug rehab program for adolescents…

The dropout rate is high. Children who fail standardised tests at each year level are kept back, and many leave and return to the public system. Thus unsuccessful students are weeded out early. The dropout rate before Year 9 (age 13) is around 30%, compared to 6% at public schools.

Most of the teachers are young and lack experience. Many are graduates of the ‘Teach for America’ programme which fast-tracks teacher education. The dropout rate is very high. Typically, they leave after two years, because they work unsustainably long hours (up to 70 or 80 hours a week is common) on relatively low pay. They burn out.

KIPP schools are very well resourced with government funding and tens of millions of dollars in corporate donations. The average public school child in the US attracts eleven thousand dollars, while the KIPP schools have per capita funding of $18,000.

In his visit so far, Mike Feinberg has been surprisingly muted about the stated success of his schools. He says they are not a silver bullet but another ‘choice’ for parents. This is a very revealing statement, as the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, is also using the ‘no silver bullet’ analogy, as has the Secretary for Education, Lesley Longstone, the head of the now-rebranded Business Roundtable and the head of the charter schools NZ initiative Catherine Isaacs. This feels like subtle political management to me.

Those living in Christchurch might ask the question why, if choice is so good, it is being reduced here through proposed school closure or merger. Is this a dastardly plot to soften us up for charter schools? Are we being prepared for a new menu of ‘choice’ in education here?   Is the Christchurch rebuild going to be used to import new models of privatised education into the city?

Choice, by itself, does not raise educational standards. I am highly suspicious of models of assertive discipline in schools that treat children in ways that none of us, as parents, would treat our own.

The National Standards data released this week has revealed for all to see (teachers have always known it) that there are big educational and social gaps between our children. But is the upshot of that the need to enrol poor kids in school boot camp? Isn’t that a little dire? And does it work, anyway?

In recent years the Ministry of Education and low-decile schools have worked tirelessly to overcome the educational gaps. Here in Christchurch there are some fabulous low-decile schools and teachers that break their backs to help their students. I do not believe that the KIPP model, or charter schools generally, offer anything better for us. Not a silver bullet indeed – rather a shotgun that will fragment our high quality public education system.

Mike Feinberg will speak at 6.30 Wednesday night at Undercroft, basement of University of Canterbury main library, James Height Building

Christchurch consultant - government proposals for Christchurch schooling a “tangled mess”

Christchurch consultant - government proposals for Christchurch schooling a “tangled mess”

Media Release - 16 September 2012

The proposals for Christchurch School closures, mergers and changes reflect a confusing mass of conflicting purposes, reasons and justifications, according to a local education expert.

Liz Gordon, a Christchurch-based educational consultant and Deputy Chairperson of the Quality Public Education Coalition, spoke of her bewilderment and despair on reading the list.

Dr Gordon said that the most worrying thing was a lack of discussion and consultation within communities.

The Quality Public Education Coalition is requesting that the Ministry of Education go back to the drawing board. “The plan is ill-informed and anomalous. It should never have been released in that form. As others have said, all it has done is cause upset and concern across the city. We really could have done without this.”

Dr Gordon wants the Ministry of Education to withdraw the plan, and start again. “There is an opportunity to really improve educational provision and results over the next 20 years in this city. This will not be achieved by top-down mergers, but by serving communities effectively.

“The Ministry needs to compile a public consultation document that includes population projections, civil aspirations, providing services that overcome educational disadvantage in poorer communities, and a city-wide discussion over our educational futures.

Dr Gordon calls on all parties for a democratic, integrated, aspirational and planned model of schooling for the city into the future, not “the tangled mess released this week”.

13 public schools in Christchurch to close – how many will reopen as charter schools?

13 public schools in Christchurch to close – how many will reopen as charter schools?

Media Release - 14 September 2012

QPEC is calling on the government to come clean over the decision to close 13 public schools in Christchurch as part of an educational re-organisation following the city’s earthquakes.

It appears the wholesale closure of public schools in the city is at least in part to make room for charter schools to take their place.

We saw this happen after Hurricane Katrina devastated the US city of New Orleans and private profiteers worked with the government to close the city’s public schools and reopen them as charter schools run for private profit.

Will some of these 13 schools be closed as public schools only to be reopened in 2014 as profit-making charter schools? Which sites have been quietly earmarked by government ministers and the private business lobbyists as sites for charter schools?

Christchurch was specifically targeted for at least one charter school at the time coalition agreement between Act and National after last year’s election. Auckland was the other centre suggested for a charter school.

Since then Act’s ambitions have grown with Charter Schools promoter Catherine Isaac now talking publicly of up to 30 charter schools. How many of these will be in Christchurch?

We know no-one can trust Charter Schools Minister John Banks so we want the Prime Minister to assure the people of Christchurch and New Zealand that no public school which is closed will be re-opened as a charter school. Such a move would be an insult to people of Christchurch – its students, parents and teachers.

A good start for Labour on education policy

A good start for Labour on education policy

Media Release - 10 September 2012

QPEC is pleased to see the Labour Party begin to announce some significant improvements in its education policy compared to National’s dangerous drive to undermine public education.

The policies announced yesterday by Labour leader David Shearer are a good start. We would be delighted to see the end of National Standards and league tables; a commitment to feed children at low-decile schools and increased resources to help children falling behind.

It was also refreshing to hear a party leader say “a great public school system is important”. This contrasts sharply with National's attempts to belittle public school and teachers at every opportunity and blows away the foetid atmosphere created by National’s policies for charter schools, league tables and so-called performance pay for teachers.

QPEC will be keen to see further details of this policy and we hope future announcements will include policies to dramatically reduce pupil/teacher ratios in schools in low-income communities as the most effective way to improve student achievement for groups of children, predominantly Maori and Pacifika, who are falling behind.

ERO - a biased political weapon for the government

ERO - a biased political weapon for the government

Media Release - 30 August 2012

Another month and another biased ERO report attacking schools, principals and teachers.

ERO claimed yesterday’s report was a “wake-up” call for teachers, principals and Boards of Trustees and highlighted what it said was schools’ “three most important shortcomings” –  schools need to focus on the needs of individual students, provide a rich curriculum and use assessment results to plan their teaching.

This report is meaningless because it is so negative and biased. It lacks the balance and independence that is essential to its national evaluation function. In this report, ERO has simply trawled through four years of reports to pick out and highlight the most negative aspects of teaching and learning they could find and then launch a broadside against public schools. 

New Zealand has an excellent public education system which overall stands close to the top of OECD rankings but listening to the ERO one would think our children attended banana republic schools.

The report is also completely useless as a practical guide for schools to improve teaching and learning. This is incompatible with ERO's claim to want to 'assess and assist schools'. So what is its purpose?

It seems clear the report is part of government plans to “soften up” parents to see public schools in a negative light and so support the government’s destructive drive for performance pay for teachers, national standards, league tables and charter schools.

By acting in this biased way, the ERO has become the mouthpiece for the government, picking on public education with such broad political attacks that make it impossible for schools to respond effectively.  

Dealing with an ERO report like this is like trying to wrestle with a marshmallow.

We saw this in the 1990s when schools in low-income communities were ERO’s soft targets – now it’s the entire public education system.

If ERO continues to produce such biased reports lacking in objectivity then parents will rightly lose confidence in using their findings.

The ERO must become a genuine evaluation agency of the education system rather than the willing political weapon it has allowed itself to become.

John Key – “do as I say, not as I do”

John Key – “do as I say, not as I do”

Media Release - 5 August 2012

On Friday Prime Minister John Key said he’d be happy for his kids to be taught by unregistered teachers but we can’t find any at the schools he chose for his children (see the attached staff list from Kings College and staff employment conditions from St Cuthbert’s)

John Key made the assertion when defending the government’s decision to allow charter schools to employ unregistered teachers. He claimed registered teachers were not a requirement for a good education but in practice he makes sure his own children get them.

It’s another example of Prime Ministerial hypocrisy and comes hard on the heels of John Key promoting larger class sizes at state schools, saying they would not reduce the quality of education, only to be outed from an earlier interview where he said he sent his kids to private schools specifically because they offered lower class sizes.

In both cases the Prime Minister has tried to sell poor quality education to other people’s children but made sure his own kids were insulated from it.

There is never any shortage of advice from the rich as to how the rest of the country should live our lives but on education the Prime Minister should keep his hypocrisy to himself.

Kings College Teaching staff 2011

   G Adams, BA (Auckland), MA (Hons) (Auckland), DipTchg
    CM Artley, BA (Hons) (Bristol), PGCE, ARCM
    W Baas, MMus (Hons), BCom, BMus (Auckland), GradDipTchg
    R Bairstow, BSc (Hons) (Surrey), DipTchg, DipMathsEd (Auckland)
    DW Barclay, BA (Auckland), TCDip
    JW Beck, BA (Auckland), DipEd (Massey), DipTchg
    MR Bean, MA (Hons) (Auckland), BD (Melbourne), M ès L (Clermont-Ferrand)
    N Bentley, BA (Massey), DipTchg, DipFilm&TV
    AJ Bramston, BBus (Auckland), GradDipBus (AUT), GradDipTchg
    DCG Bridges, BA, BSc, Dip Stats (Auckland)
    A Bryant, BA (AIT), DipTchg
    G Burton, BSc (Hons) (Sth Hampton), PGCE Des Tech
    JC Callie, BPhysEd (Witwatersrand)
    KR Carrington, BA (Auckland), TCDip
    J Chester, BFA (Auckland), Grad DipTchg
    MHS Chieng, BE (Auckland), NZCE, TCDip
    GM Clark, BA (Auckland), DipTchg
    PL Cunningham, Dip NZAHPER, DipTchg
    SB Curnow, BA (Auckland), DipArts (Auckland), DipTchg
    MH Delport, BSc, HDE (Port Elizabeth)
    U Delport, BSc (Port Elizabeth), HED
    J Dickin, BA (Ed).(Hons) (Exeter)
    D Dyer, BA (Hons) (UK), BSc (Hons) UK, PGCE
    M Edmonds, BSc (2nd class Hons), PGCE
    AJ Fowler, MA (Auckland), DipTchg, DipTchrLibship
    RC Foxall, TTC (Wellington), TCDip
    JD Frood, MA (Hons) (Auckland)
    A Gibbs, BSc (Auckland), PGDipEd
    PG Haines, BE (Auckland), DipTchg
    BMC Harter, BA (Hons), GradDipTchg
    A Hernandez-Cubo, MA Spanish & English (Spain), CAP (Spain)        (Term 1)
    SAE Hibberd, CAES (Southampton), AdvCert Maths & Microcomputers)    (Term 1)
    AS Huffadine, BSc (Hons), PhD (Otago), DipTchg
    JD Jackson, BA (Auckland), DipHum
    MP Johnston, MEd (Hons) (Massey), BBusEd (Hons) (Manchester)
    MA Karpik, BPhysEd (Otago), DipTchg
    MC Kennelly, BPE, PGDipSci (Otago), DipTchg
    J Kerr, MA (Hons) (Waikato), DipTchg
    LA Kodikara PhDChem, MSc (1st Hons) Chem, BScChem
    M Lamberto, Licenciatura en Filosofía (Navarra), CAP (Navarra), DipTchg
    B Law, MA (Hons) (Auckland), DipTchg
    S Lofroth, BBS (Massey), DipTchg
    RA Longley, Bsc (Hons) (Sheffield), PGDipTchg        (Terms 1 & 2)
    DC Macpherson, MEd (Hons), DipTC, DipTchg
    REG Massari, BA (Hons) (Capetown), HDE
    AS Massey, BSc (Auckland), DipTchg
    G McKibbin, BSocSc (Waikato), DipTchg
    CJ McLachlan BPhEd (Otago), DipTchg, Cert SMM
    J Meng, MSc (China), BSc (China), DipTchg
    DT Mitchell, BLS, BTchg (Waikato)
    FM Morris, Dip Couns, BCNZ, PG DipEd (Guidance) MNZAC
    M Naidoo, BEd (Massey), DipTchg
    MJM Oliver, BEd, AdvTCert, DipTchg
    DG Parr, Dip FA (Canterbury), DipTchg
    JS Payne, BSc (Auckland), DipTchg (From Term 2)
    M Platt, TradCert(Aust), NZATC, DipTchg
    E Prince, MDM (Unitec), BFurn & Environmental Design (Birmingham), GradDipTchg
    KB Putt, BPHEd (Otago), DipTchg
    J Robson, BSc (Hons) (Bristol), PGCE, PGDip (UEA)
    KAP Rowley, BA (Hons) (Loughborough), CertEd
    HR Russ, BSc (Auckland), DipTchga    
    BF Sapsworth, BSc (Auckland), DipTchg
    LT Savage, BEd (Auckland)
    B Simperingham, Licence Lettres Modernes (Nancy II)
    DM Simunic, BSc (Auckland), DipTchg, GradDip Tessol
    GK Smith, BE (Auckland), DipTchg
    R Snelling, MA (Auckland), DipTchg, LTCL
    JW Southern, BSc (Hons) (Southampton)
    MG Stewart, BA (Hons) (London), MA (Hons) (Auckland), DipTchg
    GG Syms, BA (Auckland), Dip Ed, DipTchg
    RDN Topham, BA (Hons) (ANU), PGCE (Oxford)
    E Tregedeon, MA (Hons) (Surrey), CertEd (London)
    SW van Wyk, BA (Hons) (Rhodes), BEd (UCT), NHED
    ST Walker, MA (Hons) (Cambridge), MInstM (UK)
    GC Walters, BA (Auck), BAppTh, PG DipEd
    D Ward, DipPE (Otago), DipTchg, High Cert Tessol
    PF Watts, BSc (Canterbury), TCDip
    R Wells, BA Fine Arts (Manchester)
    PM West, BA (Hons) (Durham)
    HA Wichman, BSc, DipTchg
    DR Williams, DipTchg, AdvTCert (Waikato Polytechnic)

St Cuthbert’s school ‘package’

Employer of Choice-Teachers

The Trust Board of St Cuthbert's College realises the importance of all staff both academic and support. Therefore all academic staff are offered the following "Employer of Choice" package.

* Remuneration - guaranteed minimum of 7% above State colleagues
* 5% superannuation
* Life/Disability cover
* Generous contractual terms and conditions
* Teacher registration costs paid by the College
* Guaranteed more non-contact periods than State colleagues and very rarely lose these periods
* Extra week’s holiday in July
* Staff scholarships programme
* Laptops at no cost - remote access at no cost
* Examination leave 
* Long Service leave
* Creative initiatives eg: exam supervision undertaken by parents
* Free car parking
* Discounted mortgages - Westpac
* Group health cover - Southern Cross
* Provision of support staff assistance
* Generous professional development opportunities 
* Opportunity to join the Senior Management Group
* Horizon Hour - an in-school weekly professional development programme
* Financial support to improve relevant qualifications
* Robust performance management system
* Comprehensive resourcing
* Induction programme for new staff
* Effective beginning teacher programme
* Higher Order Teaching/Thinking Training
* Ongoing support for new staff 
* Opportunity to take holidays at Kahunui at no cost during term breaks

MANAGEMENT

* Receptivity/Approachability of Senior Management Team
* Culture of attentive listening by Senior Management Team
* Active promotion of the professionalism of staff

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

* Recognition and appreciation of people and events
* Morale boosting
* Mums-in-Touch - parent support group
* Parents & Friends’ Association

FAMILY FRIENDLY

* Support and recognition of family needs
* Support in crisis times
* Recognition of significant personal events

LEAVE

* Discretionary leave with pay
* Discretionary leave without pay

PHYSICAL & MENTAL WELLBEING

* Christian services
* Staff communion
* External professional mediation
* Internal professional mediation
* Free flu vaccinations 
* Training & advice in avoidance of OOS-related injuries 
* Access to workstation assessments
* Access to professional support - Guidance Counsellor, Chaplain, Nurse 
* Access to EAP Counselling services
* Access to College sports facilities - fitness centre, squash courts
* Access to dining hall meals
* A culture of support

Class size matters the most where students are struggling

Class size matters the most where students are struggling

Published in Dompost - 15 June 2012

Relief at the government abandoning increasing class sizes needs to quickly change to focus on improving student achievement.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has said as much and the education sector must take her at her word and be prepared to collaborate in developing policy.

The first thing to recognise is that overall our education system is a world beater. Our kids consistently perform close to the top of international comparisons in the key areas of reading, science and maths. We regularly outperform the US, UK and Australia.

In the latest international survey (2012) from 34 OCED countries New Zealand students were ranked fourth in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy and seventh in mathematical literacy.

Since these PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) surveys started in 2000 New Zealand has stayed close to the top while other countries have struggled. As our Teachers Council reported last week “Australia has recorded a significant decline since 2000 on all the skills measured. England has slipped from seventh in 2000 to 25th in reading, eighth to 28th in maths and fourth to 16th in science. The United States only rates around the average of all OECD countries.”

If our athletes in London competed as well internationally as our students and teachers we’d be deluged with medals.

Prime Minister John Key complains that despite adding additional teachers in recent years our student achievement has “flatlined” over the past decade. That’s true but we are flat lining at the top, which should be a source of pride and only a single country from the original top 10 performers from the first PISA survey, Korea, actually increased its reading literacy score over the last 10 years. Compared to the countries whose ideas the government wants us to emulate, the UK (free schools) and US (charter schools), are dropping or have flatlined well below us.

What is also clear is that our teachers and schools achieve this with lower funding than other OECD countries. Again the Teachers Council reported “New Zealand consistently scores in the top half dozen OECD countries, even though, according to the evidence gathered by the OECD, we spend far less per student than nearly all of the other 34 OECD nations.”

In the words of Massey University’s Professor of Education John O’Neill “...one can reasonably argue that New Zealand schools are underfunded, but overachieve.”

All this should be a matter of huge national pride so why is the government constantly belittling our teachers and schools. During last year’s election campaign John Key told the country that our schools were letting down New Zealand kids. How pathetic is that? We need to ask him why the government doesn’t offer its warmest congratulations to our students, teachers and schools. International success like this is fantastic and it’s easy to make the case that our schools are the brightest spots across our entire economy.

It’s also important to recognise that New Zealand has achieved these high levels of success through a strong public education system. 96% of New Zealand children are educated in public schools while education systems which are in crisis and failing such as the US and UK have highly fractured education provision based on a false notion of “choice” where the most important choice – a high quality school in the local neighbourhood – has been lost to many. Their attempts to improve through so-called “charter schools”, more private funding and getting businesses to run schools have paralysed progress in lifting student achievement. They should be emulating us and not the other way round.

In fact across all OECD countries those with the highest levels of student achievement, such as New Zealand, have their successes based on high quality public education as a right of citizenship.

In Finland, which has the best performing education system in the world there are no private schools but the government has heavily invested in public education with the funding focused for equality and equity and ensuring that every school is a good school. Now there is something worth emulating.

But all is not perfect and the Minister is right to point to significant numbers of students who are still failing in education. There will always be students who don’t do so well for a host of reasons but our Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf is right to point out that we have more low-scoring students than the other high-performing countries.

These students are disproportionately Maori, Pacifika and working class kids in our low-income communities.

What Makhlouf didn’t say however is that there is a strong co-relation between poor educational results for kids from low-income communities and the degree of income inequality in a country. It’s no surprise then that in New Zealand, where we have had the fastest growing gap between rich and poor over the past generation, we have kids left behind. Lower achievement for kids from families on the lowest incomes follows inequality like night follows day.

The same applies for other social problems we are all too familiar with: child abuse, violent crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and poor mental health. If we are serious about addressing these problems we must rebalance our economy so every family is brought in from the cold.

This is the unpalatable truth the government and Treasury must face but there’s no point holding our breath waiting...

So what should we be doing in the meantime?

There is enough local evidence now that the single policy which would make the greatest difference in lifting the achievement of Maori, Pacifika and kids from low-income communities would be to decrease class sizes in our lower decile schools and couple this with intensive professional development for teachers to adapt their teaching to the new learning environment. So while reducing class size doesn’t appear to score as highly as teacher performance in lifting achievement overall, the local research shows it has differential effects for different groups of kids with the kids we need to target benefiting the most.

Lowering class sizes at high decile schools where high parental expectations match high teacher expectations would not necessarily make much difference. But where home circumstances mean learning outcomes depend more heavily on the teacher alone then small class sizes and closer relationships between students and teachers become key drivers in improving achievement.

We shouldn’t accept second best for any of our kids and this means significant investment directly into the classrooms where our underachievers predominate. Class size matters for these kids more than most. Our teachers have shown they are world beaters – why not give them the resources to get all our kids to the top?

John Minto

National Chairperson

Quality Public Education Coalition

www.qpec.org.nz

After the backdown....where to save money?

After the backdown....where to save money?

8 June 2012-06-08 

 

Saving $114 million in government spending is now the challenge facing Education Minister Hekia Parata and Finance Minister Bill English following the backdown on plans to increase class sizes.

 

QPEC suggests that if these savings are needed they can be can be made partly from inside education and we suggest the government start by:

  • Removing government subsidies for private schools which enable these schools to keep average class sizes of 12 students while public schools have on average more than double that student teacher ratio. Saving over $60 million per year.
  • Scrap the Aspire scholarship scheme which funds private schools to select 250 students ($16,500 each) to bolster private school funding and academic and sporting results. Saving $4.13 million per year.

Any other funded needed should come from higher income earners who currently pay virtually the same tax as those on low incomes if GST is considered alongside income tax.

QPEC does not support stripping funding from other sectors within education to make up the difference.

Education Minister shows arrogant disregard for parents and teachers

Education Minister shows arrogant disregard for parents and teachers

Media Release - 6 June 2012

Education Minister Hekia Parata’s refusal to meet with education sector groups together today in the face of outrage at the government’s decision to increase class sizes at public schools shows an arrogant disregard for the parents and teachers.

The Minister has backed herself into a corner and instead of trying to work with the sector to change the policy and is now digging in for a fight. Her statement that there will be no backdown on this hugely unpopular policy reinforces the enmity for public education which seems hard-wired into National’s DNA.

Parata is trying to cloak this attack on public education by saying one in five students is failing and the objective is to raise achievement for those students.

However the research evidence is clear that the very students the Minister says she wants to help would suffer the most if class sizes increase. Massey University’s Professor John O’Neill wrote to the Minister in February pointing out that any decision to increase class sizes would impact most on students already failing. He pointed out that even education researcher John Hattie, much quoted by the government, concluded in his major research project that “...increasing class size is poor policy.”

This is a political decision to undermine public education rather than an educational decision to raise achievement.

QPEC will be working with education sector groups to campaign to have this policy reversed.

$43 million should be saved from private school subsidy

$43 million should be saved from private school subsidy

31 May 2012

 

QPEC is calling on the Minister of Education to save $43 million from education by reducing the government subsidy to private schools rather than increasing class sizes at public schools.

In the New Zealand Herald this morning the executive director of the Independent Schools Association said the average class size among their 44 member private schools is around 12 students with a maximum class size of 16 students. In public schools the average class is size is around 25 with many classes well over 30.

At private schools:

Average class size of 12, maximum 16

No children with significant special needs

No children with significant behavioural problems

Few children with serious learning difficulties

Educate 4% of our children

22% increase in government funding in 2012

 

At public schools:

Average class size of 25, classes of over 30 typical

Children with special needs included in “mainstream” classes

Many children with significant behavioural problems

Many children with significant learning difficulties

Educate 96% of our children

Government aims to “save” $43 million each year by increasing class sizes

Government subsidies for private schools have increased from $40 million when National took office to more than $70 million today. In 2010 the increase was 22.3% with similar annual increases since.

We believe the government should save the $43 million they are claiming by reducing the taxpayer subsidy to private schools rather than by increasing class sizes at public schools.

The educational needs are much greater in public schools and the government should act accordingly.

Government hypocrisy protects small classes at elite private schools

Government hypocrisy protects small classes at elite private schools

30 May 2012

QPEC remains implacably opposed to any increase in class sizes at public schools despite yesterday’s backdown when schools were given the “good news” they wouldn’t lose more than two teachers.

The “good news” is appalling news because larger classes mean:

Less individual time for each student with their teacher

More difficulty for students to develop strong learning relationships with their teachers

Less teacher time for students who are struggling or for children with special education needs. (This is supposed to be a key focus for this government)

Greater stress on teachers

Prime Minister John Key and Associate Education Minister John Banks expect small class sizes for their own children at Kings College where the school “philosophy” says:

"Class sizes are limited and our policy of a low pupil-to-teacher ratio ensures students are given greater individual attention in the classroom".

However while preaching austerity for the 96% of children who attend public schools the government has protected these small class sizes for the 4% attending private schools – which includes the children of more than half our cabinet ministers.

Government subsidies to private schools increased by 22.3% in 2010 and over 20% in each of the following two years to almost double in the first three years of John Key’s National government.

It’s hypocritical for the government to preach austerity at public schools but lavish funding on private schools where they disproportionately send their own children.

QPEC is urging the government to abandon its plans to increase class sizes.