Who is in charge of education?

Education is in a shambles, that is if you believe the news media and the Labour party.

Labour wants to rid us of charter schools yet this is what the media have said about the education system in just the past week.

Illegal in school payments:

Teachers may have been granted “illegal” long service leave payments to go on overseas holidays in a case uncovered after the Ministry of Education stepped in at one south Auckland school.

A number of financial irregularities were uncovered at Papatoetoe Intermediate School, including funds that could have been used to support student learning being spent elsewhere.

Meanwhile pupils’ National Standards results lagged at up to 70 per cent ‘well below’ in reading, writing and maths.

It’s one of nine schools that are currently under the control of appointments directed by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

Tiny schools – costing mega bucks per-pupil, while Labour whinges about per pupil funding of charter schools:

When the bell rings for class to start again this year, one rural school will have just one pupil.

On Wednesday, Cruiz Strickett , 6, will enter the classroom at Linton Country School for his second year alone – none of his 11 classmates from last year will be there.

The school peaked at 42 pupils in 2005, but now  Cruiz is its lone student.

Last year there were 20 schools with fewer than 10 pupils. This year Linton Country School, in a small  settlement near Palmerston North, will become the school with the shortest roll call in New Zealand.

[…]

As at July 2016, 103 schools had fewer than 20 students, with 20 schools having fewer than 10 students.

Then there are the schools without enough space:

And then the usual teacher shortages:

The number of empty teaching places in secondary schools is the highest in almost 10 years.

Schools across the country are still struggling to fill vacant positions, just days from the start of the new school year.

Hundreds of vacancies are still being advertised in the Education Gazette, the Ministry of Education’s magazine for the education sector.

Term one starts next week, and there are fears classes could be cut. Big question marks remain over some subjects and timetables.

Teacher shortages in secondary schools are at their highest since 2008, according to data compiled by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA).

More than 3000 jobs were advertised last year, with data showing a steady increase in the number of vacancies over the last three years from a 2013 low.

The PPTA describes the secondary teacher shortage as “crisis point”.

“There are vacancies in many subject areas and in many geographical areas,” it says, adding recruitment is in decline and schools are losing teachers.

“Principals are considering the prospect of cancelling subjects for lack of trained and qualified secondary specialists.”

Which isn’t helped by the large number of dodgy teachers:

Dozens of teachers were disciplined or struck off last year for sexual, inappropriate or aggressive behaviour towards students.

Fifty teachers were censured and 19 had their registrations cancelled in 2016, in the year to October 31.

Among those cases there were more than 40 incidences of inappropriate behaviour, sexual misconduct, or physical, aggressive or violent behaviour towards students, according to Education Council data obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act (OIA).

In 2014, 51 teachers were censured, and 44 were in 2015.

In the first 10 months of 2016, 19 teachers were struck off. That compares to 44 in 2015 and 32 in 2014.

All teachers who had their certificates to teach cancelled were also censured.

A total of 70 complaints went before the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal in 2016, 69 in 2015 and 47 in 2014.

Which has all lead to the worst TIMMS results in the English-speaking world:

New Zealand’s scores in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 15-year-olds were its lowest ever, and it continued to rank poorly in the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) for 10- and 14-year-olds.

University of Auckland education professor Stuart McNaughton said scores for other English-speaking nations fell in the latest round of PISA.

He said schools in New Zealand and overseas were increasingly tailoring what they taught to each individual and that could have contributed to the decline in scores if some students were exposed to a more limited curriculum than others.

“It looks like across English-speaking countries, quite a lot of the variation in achievement is attributable to this within-school variation in how much we teach and provide for different students,” he said.

New Zealand’s lowest scores in both the PISA and TIMSS tests were in maths.

Professor McNaughton said teachers lacked training and confidence in maths and New Zealand had a lot fewer teachers at Year 5 and Year 9 with specific maths qualifications.

“Our teachers are less confident about teaching algebra and geometry and cover those areas less, according to the PISA and TIMSS data, and not surprisingly our children, our students achieve less well specifically in those areas.”

Which also leads to our 15 year old’s Maths, Reading and Science skills getting even worse:

New Zealand teenagers’ scores in an international test of maths, science and reading have bottomed out at their lowest point since testing began in 2000.

But their rankings in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test of 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 nations and economic areas have improved, because other countries’ average scores declined even more.

The results of the two-hour test conducted last year were published overnight and show slight decreases in New Zealand’s scores in all three subjects.

The falls were small – three to five points in scores of 495 to 513 points – and were not regarded as statistically significant.

Labour complains about charter schools, but the system which they would have those students re-enter is in a parlous state.

The one that has baffled me for decades is the teacher numbers. It isn’t hard to project where teachers are needed, you just match birth years and project forward. An insurance actuary probably needs to be employed by the Ministry of Education to tell them the years they need to be recruiting to cover shortfalls and then instruct the training colleges to plan ahead of that.

As for shortage of classrooms in some schools while we have other schools with less than 20 pupils, that has to change…fast. The Linton example is ridiculous. Massive resources are being devoted to a school with just one pupil when Linton is just 13.5 km from Palmerston North, or less than 15 minutes with the wind up its arse. Most kids in Auckland spend more time than that travelling to school. Shut the school down and move the resources…or alternatively, open the school up as a charter school and watch people flee the state schools in Palmerston North.

We have a problem in education, and most of the people involved in the sector, from the minister down and including the unions are actually part of the problem and not in any way remotely close to suggesting a solution let alone implementing one.

 

– Fairfax, NZ Herald, Radio NZ

 


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