Hekia Parata

Marlborough Express on the Teachers Council

The Marlborough Express editorial about the woeful inadequacy of the former Teachers Council is particularly relevant, especially the bit about carping teacher unions.

Little wonder teachers are protective of the Teachers Council. It’s probably only polite since it has been so very protective of them.

Unhappily, this has been at the expense of accountability to parents and the public.

The new body is going to have strengthened abilities to exert disciplinary process on errant teachers; and it will have a much more independent look to it rather than the status quo of teachers sitting in judgment on themselves – which they’ve been doing in exquisite privacy.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says new legislation improves teacher registration, enhances reporting requirements and provides a greater range of options when dealing with disciplinary matters. That last bit is particularly important.

The PPTA believes the new body has too much policing power, such as naming teachers facing disciplinary inquiries, which raises the protest that it could jeopardise “natural justice”.

Let’s remind ourselves how well natural justice has been getting along under the Teachers Council.¬† Read more »

Cavalier attitude to NCEA stuff up results in coverup

Jo Moir reports

Hundreds of NCEA students who asked to see their exam booklets have been sent other people’s by mistake.

The revelation that 455 students were sent other people’s booklets this year was news to principals, who were not notified about the blunder, although Education Minister Hekia Parata was.

Only 260 students, ranging across all NCEA levels, contacted the Qualifications Authority to say they had the wrong booklets. Of those, 169 were then sent the correct booklets; the other 91 cases remain unresolved.

A subcontractor’s computer glitch has been blamed for the error, which NZQA discovered in January.

Subcontractor’s computer glitch. ¬†Really.

This is the new way to shift blame: ¬†the unnamed sub contractor did it. ¬† The same “reason” was used to limit the damage of the Peter Dunne / Andrea Vance email investigation. ¬†When they realised they stuffed it up, it was all the fault of some nameless, faceless subcontractor.

Tawa College principal Murray Lucas said he was made aware of the error by a student, and was “disappointed” NZQA had not contacted him directly.

“It’s a difficult situation for students to deal with, and I’m disappointed to have to hear these things from the students.”

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said NZQA should have been upfront about the botch-up.

“When a breach like this occurs, people should be told about it, and to sweep it under the rug is unacceptable.”

He said it was disgraceful that Parata knew about the issues and did not make a public statement or insist schools be notified.

However much it pains me to agree with Hipkins, he’s damn right and he’s not even going over the top.

When problems like these are discovered, you notify all the stakeholders.   Mistakes happen.  We can get past those.  But what we have here is a clear attempt to contain the damage by trying to cover it all up.

And now, neither the NZQA nor Parata are taking any responsibility because it was just a little data corruption on some unknown third party’s PC.


NZQA had addressed Parliament’s education and science select committee since it became aware of the error, but did not reveal it. “It’s pretty outrageous they haven’t given full disclosure about this,” Hipkins said.

Parata said she was told about the problems in January, and updated again in February by NZQA.

“While it is a regrettable mistake, I have been assured by NZQA that further quality checks have been put in place to ensure this type of error does not take place in future.”

NZQA deputy chief executive of assessment Richard Thornton said the error was not a privacy breach because the exam booklets did not contain any information that could identify a person.

He said the next step would be to contact schools directly.

Parata will regret trying to keep this quiet in an attempt to let the NZQA hide the problem from the public.  It is much better to admit to a problem than to have to defend the cover up.

Parata is an awful education minister. ¬† How do I know? ¬†Well, this is election year, and the NZEI and PPTA are as quiet as a mouse… it appears they would like to keep her in the job for another 3 years rather than face the uncertainty of having to cope with the likes of Ryall or Joyce.


- Stuff

Two bad polls for Labour, Cunliffe has zero traction


One News and 3 News both had polls tonight. Both polls show that David Cunliffe is failing as Labour leader and is now plumbing the depths that Bill English charted when he was leader of National.

English debuted as leader around 14% and slowly slid into insignificance. David Cunliffe is the same. He must now be under real pressure both from his caucus and his members. It is telling that like his caucus, just one third of Labour voters prefer him as PM. In the OneNews/Colmar Brunton he is on 8% and in the 3News/Reid Research he is on 9%, well below the worst results David Shearer ever produced.

Labour’s smear campaign against Judith Collins and Hekia Parata have failed demonstrably along with their stupid crony capitalism campaign.They should give it up, it hasn’t worked at all.

As for their vaunted forestry policy, that has gone down with voters like a cup of cold sick. Instead of launching a policy for a few elite forest owners they should have been talking policy idea that resonate with middle NZ but they haven’t, instead talking over their heads.

All the game changers they’ve announced have indeed changed the game…in favour of John Key and the National party.¬† Read more »

Teachers Union claims excessive inequity the problem

Seriously?  Their whole award system to ensure everyone is paid the same.  How can this possibly be excessive inequity?

The country’s largest teachers’ union will march on Parliament today protesting against growing inequity in schools at the same time as the education minister is hosting an international summit.

NZEI has organised rallies in Wellington and Auckland timed to coincide with the hosting of OECD education ministers and union leaders, who are discussing best practices for lifting student achievement.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI’s involvement in the organisation of the summit and being part of previous delegations to New York and Amsterdam.

She would continue to have a relationship with the union, which was one of the objectives of the cross-sector forum that was set up following the first summit.

“We will continue to try to work together but it does take two.”

Nga Kura-a-Iwi, a federation representing Maori schools, has also spoken out against the NZEI and the “disrespect” it has shown the summit.

Co-chairwoman Arihia Stirling said it was an “inappropriate time to be airing dirty linen”.

Heh.  Running foul of protocol with their Maori brethren.

“It’s wrong to do this now, we don’t have people dying in the street, we don’t have people bleeding at the hands of the education sector . . . it’s poor judgment of the leadership of the union to do this at this time.

“Why would you air your dirty linen in front of the world when it’s imperative we get the rest of the world down here to learn and strengthen our education system?”

The NZEI was welcoming summit guests with one hand and slapping them in the face with the other, she said.

NZEI vice-president Frances Guy said she was surprised by iwi reaction, given they had consulted with the Maori arm of the union before organising the rallies.

“We believe this conference is all about equity and inclusion and making sure the best education is available for our tamariki.

“I’d be surprised if anyone at this conference could not see that as important,” she said.

“Our rally is about that and how inequities we have in New Zealand need to be addressed.”

Seems to me the NZEI isn’t in control of its own people. ¬†On the one hand they are helping with the summit to constructively work on some ideas, and the other part of the NZEI turns up to protest the summit. ¬†FAIL.


Another secret diary…this time it is Hekia’s turn

Fairfax has another Secret Diary of…

Normally these are the work of Steve Braunias but today there is no byline.

Still it is pretty funny, especially considering the answers Parata gives in parliament to questions.


I think what we need to do is arrive at a point, and I think we have arrived at that point, and the point is that there are very clear indicators – and I want to make it transparent that I have considered a whole range of factors, and taken them into account – the message I’m wanting to relay is that I think what you are left with at the end of the day is a very strong indication and a very strong suggestion that I am, in all possibility, totally insane.

Quite possibly totally insane am I, but there are several mitigating factors which have to be factored into account, and I want to make it quite plain now that the last person at fault – if there is a fault, and I make no admission of fault – the message I’m wanting to communicate is that I’m blameless.

Mental illness affects many in our community, including Parliament. You can catch it off a tap. But you can’t turn it off like a tap. It’s like a tap that just keeps dribbling, frothing at the mouth, the water babbling like a brook. A babbling brook am I, caused by bad thoughts creeping into the brain’s water supply. ¬† Read more »

Armstrong on Labour’s appalling strategy

John Armstrong provides some strategy advice for Labour.

It is sound but because Armstrong writes for the NZ Herald I suspect that Labour will have cloth ears to the message and instead label him a shill for corporate tory media interests, an accusation that is as daft as it sounds.

As the countdown to September’s general election becomes ever more frenetic, one thing is becoming increasingly obvious: those parties that stick to their knitting and produce fresh, even visionary, ideas and viable policies stand to be the big winners.

Voters are not of such a negative mood as to tolerate endless whining, cheap hits on opponents and petty point-scoring generally.

National worked this out long ago. The Greens have since worked it out and are now refocusing on fundamentals. Labour has had the most difficulty in shedding opposition for the sake of opposition, but is coming to the same realisation, with David Cunliffe now thrusting himself forward as the Apostle of Economic Intervention. And not before time – in a strategic sense, at least.

The exception to this requirement to accentuate the positive is New Zealand First whose function in domestic politics is to stress the negative and thus offer refuge to the angry and the alienated.

But even a politician of Winston Peters’ calibre is finding the going tough and – to borrow David Lange’s famous observation of Jim Bolger – succeeding in only stirring up apathy.

Outside of Wellington or political tragics all of the so-called scandals that Labour is investing enormous time and energy into have fallen flat with not a single dent in the polls for National’s constantly high ratings. ¬† Read more »

John should have listened to Whaleoil


Just because John and I talk doesn’t mean he listens. ¬† But perhaps he now rues ignoring the clear signals that Parata’s trail of destruction wasn’t going to end when he stuck her in the back office after a string of public embarrassments over school closures, and then had Steve Joyce front the Novopay debacle.

And unlike Judith Collins, who has the people’s respect, Parata’s dog tucker. ¬† Read more »

From bean to cup…

I bet those “heck yeah” signs from the mana by election campaign are hard to find now…

Tracy Watkins explains:

How long before Prime Minister John Key decides Hekia Parata is a liability in Cabinet?

The only saving grace in the kohanga reo debacle has been Key’s calculated decision to leave chief of staff Wayne Eagleson behind while he is on a 10-day trip to China and Europe.

The decision to refer allegations of misspending by a kohanga reo-related company to the Serious Fraud Office – less than 25 hours after Parata assured the “taxpayers of New Zealand” that there had been no impropriety – looked like something that had Eagleson’s fingerprints on it.

Her handling of the affair has been a breathtaking disaster.

During a press conference on Tuesday night Parata blustered and bullied her way through questions about her assurance that none of the $92 million in public funding allocated to the Kohanga Reo National Trust, or paid to its subsidiary, Te Pataka Ohanga, had been misspent.¬† Read more »

Do you have convictions? Then you can still be a teacher

Jo Muir helpfully reports:

Initial education providers take into account convictions based on their severity, how recent they were, the age of the offender and the pattern of offending.

All candidates have to:

  • Be vetted by police
  • Display respect for people, the law, other views and cultural and social values
  • Be reliable and trustworthy
  • Be mentally and physically fit
  • Have the potential to uphold the public and professional reputation of teachers
  • Promote the safety of learners

How many existing teachers would fail those tests today? ¬†And they wouldn’t even be subject to a Teachers Council complaint.

Children are being taught by trainee teachers with drug and assault convictions.

The standards for gaining entry to teachers’ colleges are different from those required of registered teachers, meaning some trainees accepted onto courses would never meet the standard for teaching.

Nearly 50 applications for teacher registration were declined by the Teachers Council last year for reasons including convictions, not having the right qualifications and not being of a good character. ¬† Read more »

Here Teach, have some gruds

Jo Moir reports on the demise of the Teachers Council, and why it has been ineffective.

Teachers have accepted gifts of underwear, and invitations to students’ birthday parties – and later claimed to be unaware such actions were inappropriate.

Now some in the profession are calling for the education minister to step in and provide better training on professional boundaries, after a rise in the number and seriousness of offences committed against students.

Patrick Walsh, a long-standing member of the Teachers Council’s disciplinary tribunal, said it was clear after six years on the tribunal and speaking with principals and teachers nationwide, that the quality of training around professional boundaries and student safety was at times non-existent.

Training?  Is that the problem?

Don’t be stupid. ¬†If a 14 year old gives you underwear, and you don’t immediately see that as an issue, no amount of training is going to help. ¬† Read more »