Removing National Standards and charter schools, and bringing democracy to the Education Council

14 March 2018

Now is the time to make sure our win in getting National Standards and charter schools scrapped is cemented in law!

It’s important that all parliamentarians hear and understand why the profession is celebrating the end of National Standards.  It’s quick and easy to make an online submission to the Education Select Committee that is considering the bill to scrap National Standards and charter schools. Submissions close on 13 April.

Remember, you are making a personal submission, not an organisational one.  Write in your submission that you:

  1. Support the Bill’s goal of strengthening “the quality of school education by removing the provisions relating to national standards and the partnership school model from legislation”
  2. Support the scrapping of Clause 4 (This clause amends section 60A(1)(ba) to remove the requirement that the Minister publish national standards).
  3. Support the scrapping of Clause 5 (This amends section 61A(4)(a) so that a school charter is no longer required to include the board’s approach to assessing students against National Standards.
  4. Support Clause 10 repealing Part 12A, which provides for the approval and operation of partnership schools kura hourua (commonly called charter schools).

Then…add in a story or two from your experience. A useful way to structure your story is:

  1. Share the effects of National Standards on student(s)’ learning. For example, you might give an example of how National Standards impacted negatively on an (anonymous) student or cohort of students at your school;
  2. Share what the impact of scrapping National Standards will be for you and your students.
  3. Explain why you believe scrapping National Standards is good for kids and for teaching and learning – and what you will be free to focus on now! For example, you might explain what rich reporting to parents could look like or talk about how you can better focus on teaching and learning (the NZ curricula), engagement, children’s culture, language and identity, not just standardised assessment.

Try giving examples that addresses some of the common misconceptions MPs may raise, such as “National Standards are needed to address our “long tail” of under-achievement in maths and literacy” or “Parents won’t know where their kids are at without National Standards”.

While your experience will be the selling point for MPs, there are a few facts you may choose to include in your submission:

  1. National Standards didn’t improve children’s learning: in fact Kiwi student achievement as measured by PISA and other international tests dropped during the National Standards period.
  2. National Standards increased student anxiety – two thirds of teachers were concerned about the anxiety students felt about their performance and the negative effect this had on their learning, a 2017 survey by NZCER found.
  3. National Standards weren’t supported: only 16% of teachers believed National Standards had a positive impact; 75% of principals and teachers said they were negative for children with additional learning needs and barely half of parents thought they were useful. (NZCER, 2017)

While you are at it, you can also add in the same online submission that you support the scrapping of Charter Schools because:

  • Charter schools were an ideological experiment to privatise education that has failed to improve Maori achievement overall (there are fewer than 300 Maori students in charter schools and they have not achieved any better than the average for Maori students in state schools).
  • Charter schools have been a cop-out from the need for Government to fund all kura and schools properly and to improve cultural responsiveness across the system.

You can either enter your thoughts directly into the online submission form, or write your “story” down and then cut and paste it into your online submission.

Democratising the Education Council
If you’re keen to do another one, here’s another opportunity! 

Part of the GERM was a low-trust model for teaching – the National Government stripped teachers of their right to vote for representatives on the Education Council (they were all appointed by the Minister of Education).

NZEI supports the Labour-led Government’s Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill, which reinstates the right of teachers to vote for their own representatives on the Council.  The Bill means the Council will:

  • Have functions and powers similar to the current Education Council
  • Retain its status as being independent from government
  • Have 13 members, including 7 registered teachers, voted for by teachers, and 6 members appointed by the Minister.

You can make a quick submission by March 30. You may like to:

  • Say you support the bill’s purpose to have the majority of the council directly elected by, and representative of, the teaching profession as well as appointed lay representatives, and to have its name reflect the central role teaching plays in quality education.
  • Explain why you think it is important to enhance the mana of the profession by having teachers elect representatives to their own professional body.

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