“World Class” education or the system is failing?

Have you ever noticed that when the media and the teacher unions are attacking charter schools they always describe New Zealand schools as world-class? Our teachers are the best in the world they tell us, there is no need for charter schools. Our Maori and Pacific students are doing just fine they tell us; they are not falling through the cracks.
When a story is not about charter schools then all of a sudden the cracks are allowed to show. Have you noticed that they always claim that the education system is failing when they are attacking the Government?
To prove my point here are some quotes.

The primary school system is in trouble. It is failing some of the young pupils who can least afford to be left behind, and it is struggling to attract talented young New Zealanders to a career in the country’s classrooms. Out of nearly 60,000 youngsters who finished Year 8 in 2014 – 12-year-olds on the cusp of their high school years – a staggering 17,900 could not meet writing requirements, 18,500 were behind in maths and 12,700 struggled with reading.

…All is not well at the front of the classroom either. Teaching, once an appealing and rewarding career option, is now seen by potential recruits as a “Plan B” job.

…In the case of the primary sector, the Government invested $250 million in six years to lift achievement in literacy and numeracy and measure progress through national standards. The results, as the figures demonstrate, are dispiriting.

… the inescapable and uncomfortable reality is that far too many children are not succeeding in class.

-A Newspaper

Reforms have already been initiated by education minister Hekia Parata…A trial of charter schools is underway for “priority” students.

…Before talking about solutions, it’s important to note that New Zealand’s education system is still extremely good. We have a world-class curriculum and our best schools match the best schools anywhere.

More than 85 percent of children leave high school with a qualification. Retention and dropout is improving. From 2013 to 2014 the percentage of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA Level 2 increased by 2.6 percentage points, to 81.2 percent, with some of the biggest gains made by Maori and Pasifika students.

-A Newspaper

“The bottom line is we know there are better ways for the $25 million (for charter schools) could have been spent.

“We have a world class education system and PPTA members have shown we are willing to fight for it. That we will continue to fight for it and for the solutions which will actually benefit the children most in need,” he said.

-Scoop Media


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  • Michelle

    Last week it was a full on assault about housing and this week it is education, next week who knows what they have lined up by the unions to bash the government with

    With education it is still a parents responsibility to make sure their child starts school with the basics of being able to write their own name and be able to count and know their alphabet and colours and not turn up thinking they are little princes and princesses

    from then on parents should be hearing them read each night and be involved in their education then we would see great results for all our children

    l have seen children turning up to school not being able to do any of the above and unless that child is keen to learn they do get left behind

    Teachers need a standards system to cull out the useless ones just collecting their wages and doing little else

    • woollyone

      Next week it must surely be Health’s turn again. They probably have a list.

      • Michelle

        l scroll down to see what the latest whinge is this week and move on

        The government can’t do everything the next layers down must take some responsibility including the ones on the coal face
        step up or step out of the way and let someone without a grudge in to do the job

  • Miguel

    Education, like health, is one of these bottomless pits for government money – you can always spend more. The Unions are basically arguing that they’re the only fit and suitable recipients for investing in education – their schools are tops (no need for charter schools)…and failing students means we should (ta da!) give the schools/teachers more money!

    The discussion about raising the status of teaching was great. Of course it’s a plan-b option for many – what the Dickens else are you going to do with a BA in History? The suggestion was made to raise the status by raising the entry requirements…but this might impact the numbers of Maori/PI teachers. It seems they either want better teachers or browner teachers but don’t think they can have both. It’s like they’d saying that brown people are thicker or something….

  • Tiger

    I bet you the media and teacher unions are happy to dig into the national standards statistics to come up with those figures of failure (or success) depending how they position their argument / sensation. This is the very system they railed against when it was being implemented. Actually national standards is a good example of where the media and teacher unions’ argument against them was disconnected from the majority.

    • biscuit barrel

      What has ‘national standards’ changed. ? I thought we were way past throwing a heap of money at a problem and not doing anything when it just tells you what you know allready.

      First rule of schooling , you cant make them learn. Never worked when they had the strap and cane, doesnt work now with ‘child centered learning pathways’

      Real problem is no work for those who dont do well out of education system, Ive employed guys who just didnt fit in school and had a terrible background, but working gave them meaning ( and money)

  • Ghost

    The entire gist of their argument is “more money”, more money for teachers, more money for the education system, more money for low income families, more money to feed kids….. pray tell, what is this fabled substance “money” that is the magic panacea of all ill?

    • biscuit barrel

      Why did we throw $200 million at national standards ?

  • Oh Please

    I’m not an avid fan of this country’s education system, it has become too wishy-washy. But at the end of the day educational results are GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. If parents are sending kids to school with an attitude they can do as little as they want then you get the results you see now. Schools are seen as child-minders, until the kid is old enough to go get their own benefit – and while success governments allow that it will continue. The kids too thick or too unwilling to learn – put them into vocational establishments, teach them carpentry, brick laying, truck driving – stuff that might make them useful members of society. But make sure they have enough English and Maths do do their GST returns. And get rid of the poncy, meaningless tertiary ‘degrees’ – they are solely a means of hiding unemployment for a couple of years.

  • cows4me

    The only thing that is world class is the moaning. Even my own kids have said they never want or wanted to return to the state system as it’s tits. There seems to be a mediocrity in the state system. Sure there are good teachers but some are obviously just there to eat their lunches and politically correctness has a smothering influence.

  • Time For Accountability

    The quote above is very apt and I often quote a similar wording to folk to help identify good teachers.
    One of the best teachers I ever had was my OBHS Seventh Form physics teacher.
    He never taught me any physics. He made it quite clear that at university you had to research and take responsibility for your own learning.
    He was famous for never answering a question, always directing you were to research and learn by questioning you back.
    He had spectacular results and it was my pleasure several years later to present him with an award for services to education.
    Ferg slipped up one day and answered a question. It was either yes or no. His lower sixth physics class exited the room punching the air with glee “the old b slipped up”
    There are world class teachers but too often teachers spoon feed and don’t actually teach.

  • anniem

    Start by improving the quality of person applying for teacher training.

    • phronesis

      Particularly primary level. It isn’t just the quality of the person applying that is the issue though. I knew a guy with a good degree in the sciences that wasn’t accepted into primary so became an excellent secondary teacher instead. Maybe they thought he would raise too many questions if they let him into primary.

      • anniem

        You are probably right and what a loss to the primary sector. Maybe I should have said, improving the quality of the person being accepted into teacher training. I suspect there is an awful lot of leftyism at play in the application/acceptance system. I am appalled at some of the things that primary children say and show they are taught. There seems to be a lot of ignorance among teachers. I pay tribute to the excellent teachers out there who pushing the proverbial uphill.

  • raumatirover

    The problem is teachers are being forced to implement the current educational buzz that “students will be self-motivated, interested learners” and teachers are facilitators rather than ‘teachers’. Bollocks!

  • Phenandra

    The education unions are running the line that inadequate and unequal access to quality preschool education lies at the root of the failure. If this were the case, previous generations would have had similar illiteracy and innumeracy rates, which they didn’t. They didn’t have preschool, and I have never met anyone over 60 who can’t read, write, or do a column of mental arithmetic faster than the calculator-dependent generation can.

    I think the problem is curriculum bloat – there seems to be an inordinate amount of teaching on topics regarded as more crucial than reading, writing, and basic number manipulation. Computing, for instance, is badly focussed in most primary schools. Social propaganda seems to form a large part of the day in some schools. We need decent measurement of children’s progress, similar to the Iowa testing done in the US, which gives a detailed breakdown of children’s specific skills measured against their class and the population as a whole. We also need to repurpose the curriculum so all children have the basic skills needed for employment and financial planning.

    • MarcWills

      We do the ‘iowa’ style testing, that’s what National Standards is for. That’s why we can measure that there are some failings.

  • LovetoTeach

    There are a heap of teachers who are just phoning it in (they’re usually the union reps!) but there are also a LOT of teachers doing an amazing job and making a real difference in children’s lives. I agree with having standards to strive for but the stats on these don’t tell the whole story.