Finland

Education: Quality vs Quantity

The Labour party has made a fundamental error with their education policy.

They have confused quality with quantity.

In their mad rush to appease the NZEI with increased teacher numbers they have failed to understand that there are literally hundreds of studies world-wide that show that reducing class sizes do almost nothing to increase the quality of outcomes.

Even Damian Christie understands this:

Studies show that by increasing the quality of the teacher, rather than some journeyman, union hack, and put them in front of the classroom, then that has much more of an impact than reducing class sizes. In Finland, the country Labour used to hold up as the example for education, they focused on quality and have a requirement that every teacher have a minimum of a Master level degree. Imagine the howls of outrage from teacher unions in NZ if a political party mandated that for teachers.

Which brings me to an email from a reader that explains what Labour have missed.

In Hi Cam,

I was an English teacher in China for a couple of years at a private school that taught classes spoken English in-house and away at local state schools. This was all prior to the 2008 Olympics.
Class sizes ranged from between 12 to 25 students in-house and averaged about 40 in the state schools.    Read more »

The Stupidity of the Left’s “Finland” chant for Education

In terms of education no one on the left is offering anything this election – just more BANS – to go alongside truck bans, man bans, foreign investment bans, Nigella bans etc.

The Green/Labour/PPTA/NZEI block simply plan to ban National Standards, Charter Schools and the $359 million of government spending directed at improving leadership, teaching and learning in areas where schools are failing.

The only glimmer of a proposal they give is to say – we need to be like Finland. The funny thing is that those groups would go even more apoplectic if some of the things Finland does were put in place – plus – those working in Finland recognise that the conditions that make it work there do not work anywhere else.

“Compulsory schooling begins at the age of seven, with only a broadly-outlined national curriculum, and students wear their own clothes and call the teachers by their first names.”

Problem 1: Schooling begins at 7. In New Zealand the Left blame all school failure on poverty in the home. So they would want to leave children in that situation longer – so when those kids start school they are even further behind? When the children don’t own clothes of a quantity and quantity acceptable to going to school it just given them one more things to be socially distinct on – the Left would be happy with that?

Problem 2: That change would put a whole lot of NZEI employees out of work and out of the union. I can just see NZEI marching in favour of that.

Problem 3: One of the complaints with Charter Schools from the clueless Left has been that they may propose a curriculum apart from the national one. So they would suddenly be in favour of the much greater curriculum freedom offered to Finnish schools? Would they happy for schools to simply be leaving out portions benefiting the Left’s social agenda that are in our current curriculum?

“PISA results show that Finland was 12th best in the world for maths – outside of Asia, only Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Netherlands and Estonia fared better. Britain was 14 places below Finland.”

Problem 4: Some of the Finland results are not that flash. The Left also complain vehemently about testing and whinge about PISA (especially when it calls into doubt their “world class” mantra). So – they want Finnish systems based on a testing system that shows quality but at the same time bag the testing system and don’t want it here? It must be confusing having to try and think this way.

“And a study by the Smithsonian Institution showed that the difference between Finland’s weakest and strongest students was the smallest in the world.”

Read more »

Cry baby enabler Martin Johnston stuffs it up well and proper cuddling Robyn Carter

I’m happy to report this update on this morning’s “Cry Baby of the Week” story on Robyn Carter.

In short, Robyn claims she was so scared during the Seddon earthquake.  All this was made worse because her cochlear implant doesn’t allow her to hear the TV properly.  She couldn’t find out what the situation was via TV, so she is using this to push for live close captioning of news for the 700,000 deaf and hearing impaired people.

And she wants you to pay for it.

What Martin Johnson didn’t reveal is that Robyn Carter is not your average woman stuck in a rural area during an earthquake.

original

How many times have we seen the media not disclose the true background of their cry baby situations?  This lady is an advocate for her cause.  Which is fine.  But to pass herself off as the victim in the story really doesn’t say much for Martin Johnston’s spidey senses.

But it gets worse.   VERY much worse:   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Unknown source

The Beer Floating Event Read more »

PPTA/NZEI can stop banging on now…

…about the NZ education system being world class…..and about Finland. Both take a hammering in the latest rankings. 

Time for change and for the unions to stop opposing everything and put kids first.

Time for Labour to take responsibility for their ridiculous numeracy project that has impacted on the 15 year olds being tested.

Time for National to get bolder.

The common factor in NZ’s decline over the last 14 years. The unions opposing everything.  Read more »

Tagged:

Nokia goes American…remember those who said NZ needed a Nokia?

nokids

A reader emails:

Cam

Remember the Hullaballoo last year involving Gerry Brownlee when he took on the Finns last year? This saw some distinct Opposition chest beating, as it picked on one of their favourite countries (despite Finland’s love of Nuclear power and embrace GM technology).

I bet Gerry will be enjoying a wry smile over news that Nokia has been picked up by Microsoft for way less than Len Brown’s new train set in Auckland will cost. As both will lose money, which one would WO readers most prefer?  Google, several year’s ago, picked up Ericsson Mobile Motorola Mobility (who had invented the mobile phone), proving you can go from hero to zero very quickly in tech.

Yet this got me thinking about all those ‘experts’ who castigate farming by saying we need to ‘develop a Nokia of our own.’ While the meat industry has its issues, at least its in demand, more so than Nokia’s loss making business, or should i now say, Microsoft Mobile.

Remember what the Finnish ‘comedian’, Tuomas Enbuske, said after big Gerry corrected Shearers Finnish myth last year?

“We have Kimi Raikkonen … you have sheep.  We have Linus Torvalds [creator of Linux computer software] … you have sheep.  We have the Angry Birds game … you have sheep. We have Alvar Aalto [architect] … you have sheep. We have Nokia … you have sheep.  We have Martti Ahtisaari [Nobel winner] … you have sheep.  Thank you. Greetings from Finland.”   Read more »

An idea for Finland Fanboi Shearer to Ponder

David Shearer is a big fan of Finland…perhaps he will soon start suggesting this solution, taxing unpaid work:

FINLAND’S tax authority is trying to find new ways to increase revenue and is considering going so far as to tax unpaid labour, an official has told public broadcaster YLE.

The tax office was looking at service exchanges in particular, such as time banking, where reciprocal services are exchanged using units of time as currency, or more informal arrangements such as that between two neighbours.  Read more »

Guest Post – The pseudo-moral outrage over Charter Schools

by Alwyn Poole

The NZEI/PPTA are continuing with their pseudo moral outrage around Charter/Partnership Schools in an effort to influence the submission process to government around the relevant Bill. As do some of the political opponents. The level of monologue from them is well below what you would expect in public discourse from people that you would have thought had to have some intellect to get in to the positions they are in. The hype reached a new, and tedious, low in the last few days with the PPTA criticizing John Banks for asking for public submissions on the bill while at the same time setting up a form document so their members don’t have to think to submit:

Then Tracey Martin of NZ First regurgitates some of the rants:

“New Zealand First says the Government is attempting to sneak through unpopular changes which will destroy our public education system.”

And

“The Education Amendment Bill requires comment on Charter Schools which will become cash cows for foreign investors.”

The other recourse of the unions is to take a mono-cultural country (Finland) where every teacher is required to have a post graduate qualification and say we need to be like them in all of our provisions. Or to state, despite recent trends that we are “world class”. This ignores the fact that for children from lower socio-economic homes and Maori and Pacific Island communities the differentials are huge (e.g. a 20% differential for Maori to non-Maori and Level 2 NCEA in 2011) and that recent TIMMS reports had NZ sliding. The “more money” argument doesn’t work either – New Zealand is the highest spender per capita in the OECD in this area.

Almost every family will tell you that there is a “could do better” aspect to their child’s education. New Zealand is a small incredibly well resourced country and every community should be utterly dissatisfied until our education system is world leading and no child falls through the cracks. The children of this nation are that important. It seems completely against the mentality of the unions and others with a vested interest in education to be positive and put the children first.

What is the Charter School Opportunity?

The model is simple and aspects of it have been applied overseas with mixed results but enough indicators that if it is done well can help many children without hindering others. With an outstanding positive approach in New Zealand this can be completely NZ designed for NZ children and their families and – and where it is relevant – the best of the overseas aspects can be applied also.

The key to success is an outstanding application and permission process and strict ongoing accountability.

Private organisations (with permission) will be able to set up Partnership Schools and offer places to children. Those children will take something like their state funding to the new school (i.e. this is near fiscally neutral). No child will be compelled to attend and the focus (quite clearly under the proposed legislation) is to be on children who are otherwise not achieving. Where schools are oversubscribed a ballot will be applied. If what is offered is not good enough then people will not choose to send their children to those schools.

For Maori and Pacific Island communities this is a genuine opportunity to intervene in the quality of educational outcomes for their children and to take greater ownership of the well being of their youth.

For families where they feel that the “one size fits all” model is not working for their children this is an opportunity to co-operate and work on micro-schools with particular niches that allow their children to get through the qualification hoops and have greater choices going into adulthood.

What is it about the opponents of the policy that they consider that parents lack the ability to make sound educational choices for their own children? Their fear is that parents will line up for these schools in droves (and they will if it is done properly).

It is not that some of these educational innovations that will occur are not occurring in state schools or over time but the inertia is massive and the level of opposition from the unions to any kind of change is a significant barrier.

One aspect used to fuel the opposition fervour is that of saying people shouldn’t “profit from education” (e.g the “cash cow” nonsense from Tracey Martin). As I stated in an earlier post  – this is a complete red herring. Many people already make money through education in NZ – including Tracey Martin  – most via the taxpayer. Teachers make money (i.e. profit) from educating children, university lecturers in Education make profit from doing so, the education spokespeople of political parties profit from their positions, providers of services to schools make profits (e.g. electricity, IT, plumbers, builders, architects, etc), executives of education unions (e.g. PPTA, NZEI) most certainly financially profit from being involved in education. It is hard to see why many of these people seem to be saying that someone willing to take personal financial risks aren’t worthy of receiving income from it and yet they are.

The second point, also previously made, is that it is highly unlikely that significant profits will be made – the foreseeable opportunities are too small and many of the groups who will be interested will do so on a non-profit basis. However – if an entrepreneur can set up a great school, inspire staff, improve the educational outcomes of a group of children and the flow-ons to their families – is there any real issue with them receiving a return on that? The current opponents would be very hypocritical to maintain that there is.

I have also previously commented on the unqualified teachers aspect but to summarise: Children deserve very good teachers in front of them and what they currently have is a mix and Principals have very little discretion to provide incentives through rewarding good teachers/teaching. Having a degree and going to teachers college is no guarantee of quality and teachers (especially secondary) have long debated the worth of the year at their College of Education as opposed to on the job training and a qualification process through that.

It is also ridiculous to say that time at a teachers college is the only pathway to being equipped to contribute to the education of young people (or is the equivalent of 10 years of medical training as some have tried to imply). In ten years of running a small middle school some examples of “untrained” people who have come in and expertly contributed to teaching modules are – marine biologists, lawyers, surgeons, builders, architects, dancers, actors, directors, historians, archaeologists, politicians, pilots, military personal, rocket engineers, athletes, etc. Many, but not all have been volunteers. Is there really an issue with these people being paid for their time?

It has clearly been stated that the proportion and role of non-registered teaching staff will be a matter of school by school negotiation and, obviously, if parents are not satisfied with the quality of teaching their children are receiving they have the “qualified” state alternative to revert to.

Some current opponents have also expressed concern that the leader of a Partnership School will not necessarily have been a teacher. People other than teachers can care for children, understand learning, manage staff and may bring a managerial skill set that someone who has spent their career in the classroom has not had the opportunity to develop. A teacher moving into school management has to learn a plethora of “business” skills (e.g. budgeting, property management, personal management) it is precious and again, patch protection, to consider that someone from a business background can’t learn education sector skills.

The children of NZ, current and future, need educators to have ideals and vision. When I was studying at university in the 1980’s and 90’s one of the main areas of discussion was the major “tail” in New Zealand’s education outcomes, social causes and the flow on effects. There have been improvements but despite the outstanding efforts of many people we are still a long way from solving these problems. Without significant change we will be having the same discussion 20 years hence.

This is a new opportunity and people with the well being of New Zealand children in mind should be in behind it. The aims would be to guarantee that this works for the children that are currently failing while protecting the integrity and enhancing the positive effects of the state, private (fee paying), and integrated systems. We are now in the 21st Century after all and the current prevalent model was designed for the children of the Industrial Revolution not the children of the Information Revolution. The opportunities for young people are outstanding but there is a massive dichotomy in terms of the choices available to those with qualifications and those without. Every effort must be made to find pathways for every child – even if that feels threatening to adults in positions of power within education in New Zealand.

One aspect of submission that is important (and here I agree with the unions) is that these schools must be highly accountable for their use of taxpayer funds. If that is not to be through the OIA (as private organisations) then there must be another very transparent means of accounting for their use of taxpayer funds.

The PPTA thinks all of New Zealand is on holiday  but if you have the time you can submit to the select committee on the Education Amendment Bill.

We live in a free thinking democracy with respect for intelligence so I won’t tell you what to think and/or write.

Declaration of Background and Interest

I had a mother able to break out of an 11 child state home family. I was educated in state schools in Thames and Wanganui. Economics degree, teaching diploma, Masters degree in Education, Post Grad. diploma in Sports Management. Six years teaching at Tauranga Boys, one at Hamilton Boys, four at St Cuthbert’s. For the last ten years I have designed and run Mt Hobson Middle School as a school for 50 children in Newmarket (as a charitable trust) and believe that the model can be broadly applied in NZ communities to improve outcomes for children that attend. Always happy to have people come in to discuss education and see the work we do with children. Three children myself – now at University.

Let’s pay each teacher what they’re worth

Hekia Parata should be implementing this rather than wondering which schools to close in Christchurch.

The simple fact is this, the teacher unions will go to war with National over almost anything…so why not go to war over something that matters…like performance pay for teachers.

In the UK that is precisely what is coming down the line:

Salary rises should be based on performance in the classroom, rather than just time served

Good teaching matters. Talented teachers change lives, but are not sufficiently recognised or rewarded. And too often good teaching is not available where it is most needed, particularly in deprived areas. That’s why the School Teachers’ Pay Review Body, in its report published yesterday, recommends that teachers’ pay should be based on the impact made in the classroom rather than time served.

There are many factors that make a good school, but the best teachers are not always paid as they should be, nor is the sector seen by graduates in the profession as offering the status and rewards available elsewhere. Successive governments have begun to tackle this, with the Teach First initiative and the introduction of appraisals to inform pay decisions for senior teachers.

The independent review body recommends in its report that the Government should simplify the national pay framework and extend pay awards based on appraisal to all teachers. This is what happens in most sectors. Pay for all teachers should be based on their contribution to pupils’ progress. Individual schools are best placed to understand pupil needs and local circumstances and should be free to spend their money as they see fit, within the national framework.

Every other industry in the country pays for performance…it is high time that the same applied to teachers. The UK review recommends:

-) Performance-based progression for all teachers, based on a school’s own priorities and the single teaching standard already in place, with freedom for the most successful teachers to move faster up the pay scale.

-) More freedom for schools to create highly paid posts for the very best teachers, to spread good teaching skills and provide a classroom career alternative to leadership.

-) Simplifying hundreds of pages of detailed central guidance which it is clear that few fully understood.

The teacher unions constantly tell us we already have a world class education system, but one which is beaten by Finland and South Korea…we are top at rugby in the world, we dn;t settle for third or fifth or anything but first when it comes to that…so why settle in education.

The time markers and the indolent need to be encouraged to leave.

The most effective education systems?

The teacher unions will have you believe that New Zealand’s education system is perfect and it is all because of them. We do have a good system but it needs to be better.

The Economist has an article about education systems and they conclude that Finland and South Korea have the most effective education systems.

Finland and South Korea boast the most effective education systems, an assessment of 50 countries has found.

When it comes to improving the performance of education systems, cultural attitudes may matter more than levels of spending. The education environments of Finland and South Korea – the two top performers in a new EIU index – have very different characteristics but share a moral imperative within the national culture that greatly values education.

The two also develop high-quality teachers and place enormous value on the accountability of schools, administrators and teachers.

The teacher unions would hate Finland’s model…because every teacher is required to have a masters level degree…the striving for excellence is anathema to the psyche of New Zealand teachers union bosses.