Tuesday, 1 April 2014

What I saw and heard: Sue Moroney and Chris Hipkins host a chat on education in Hamilton

Last night I went to a discussion held at Pukete School in Hamilton, hosted by local Labour list MP Sue Moroney (ECE and Social Development spokeswoman and party whip) and the Labour Education Spokesman Chris Hipkins.

Below is my Storify of my tweets and retweets, and below that was what I consider the highlights and important messages to be of the discussion.

Also at the meeting were most of the Labour candidates for the greater Waikato.

Back:  Hamilton East candidate Cliff Allen and Taupo candidate Jamie Strange.
Front: Waikato candidate (to be confirmed) Christine Greer, List MP and Hamilton West candidate Sue Moroney, and Coromandel candidate Korbinian Poschl. 

These were the big things that stood out for me tonight:

Education is an investment and not everything can be measured:
  • Chris Hipkins and Labour believe that any money spent on education is an investment.
  • School is not just about what can be measured for literacy and numeracy - it is also just as important for the interpersonal skills, the skills that are very difficult to measure, but are vital.
  • Not everything can be measured.
  • Visiting education professionals love the New Zealand Curriculum.
  • But they can not understand why we are not teaching with the Curriculum, but rather letting National Standards take over.
  • Chris said National Standards do not recognise that children develop and learn at different rates.
  • National Standards are not a fair way to assess a school's performance.
  • Chris accurately explained why National Standards are harder to achieve for students at low decile schools than those at higher decile schools - simply the kids at the lower decile school have more to learn than the kids at the higher decile school to meet the standard, in general.
  • Chris is unimpressed with using National Standards to allocate funding to schools; he thinks the schools that will need the money most will end up with the least.
  • Chris believes that despite Hekia Parata's back track on using National Standards data to allocate funding, that there are Treasury documents advocating doing this, and plans are well advanced.
  • Chris says we don't need National Standards to tell us which kids have problems.
  • Not one extra dollar has been put towards the kids that need the most help.
  • National Standards tries to do 4 or 5 things but achieves nothing.
  • We need parents talking directly to teachers to find out how their children are doing.
  • National Standards will be gone-burgers under a Labour-led government.
Teacher training, qualifications and workforce planning:
  • Chris believes we should set high expectations and standards for potential trainee teachers to get into teacher training.
  • He believes that teacher training should have a post graduate qualification required to be teacher.
  • Chris finds it incredible that the government talks about being more rigorous in expectations for teachers and then does the opposite for Charter Schools by allowing them to have unqualified, untrained, unregistered teachers.
  • Chris believes that there should be better workforce planning for teaching due to the number of newly qualified teachers unable to secure positions.
  • We have too many PE teachers being trained, but not enough maths teachers.
  • 50% of our current teaching workforce is over the age of 50.  We have to ensure we train the right number of teachers to have the overlap of experience in schools as teachers retire and new teachers enter into the teaching workforce.
What Labour commits to funding:
  • Labour will fully fund Reading Recovery for all schools.
  • Labour will fund special needs education.
  • Labour will fund quality teacher professional learning development (PLD) to ensure a confident, quality teaching force.
  • Novopay is a disaster.
  • Steven Joyce is living in a parallel reality with his statistics, because every school which Chris Hipkins has visited has at least one Novopay issue that is not resolved. 
  • Labour will get a new payroll system that actually works.
Charter Schools and Public Private Partnerships:
  • Labour will repeal the Charter Schools legislation.
  • Existing schools will be offered the opportunity to be independent private schools, or to become intergrated schools when the legislation is changed.
  • Labour is not happy about schools being built amongst Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) being used to build/rebuild schools in Christchurch and elsewhere.  It has a lot of potential sticking points for schools.
Teachers' Council and changes:
  • Chris believes that teachers should have democratic representation on the new body replacing the Teachers' Council.
  • Chris believes that the new teachers' council should be setting the standard for enters teacher training.
Early Childhood Education:
  • Chris believes that the challenges in ECE are similar to those in the primary and secondary sectors.
  • He wants to get the funding in ECE back up to achieve the goals of 100% fully trained, qualified, registered ECE teaching force and more engagement in early childhood education in low income areas by creating more community based centres, due to the fact that commercial ECE centres are not opened in lower socio economic areas because they are not seen as profitable.
Independent/Private Schools:
  • Chris said Labour will not be increasing funding to private/independent schools.
  • The Aspire Scholarships to private schools are widely known as a rort as the private schools are cherry picking from the public schools.
Feed the Kids:
  • Labour considers Feeding the Kids to be very much on the agenda.
  • As Hone Harawira's bill was drawn first, they have to wait for that bill to be advanced first before their own bill can be addressed.
  • Chris will reintroduce the healthy food guidelines to schools that National dumped.  He believes initiatives such as school gardens that teach students skills for their own families should be supported with government policy and funding.
Support Staff:
  • Labour is investigating solutions to the variety of issues for Support Staff funding and career pathways.
  • First a funding system has to be sorted.  David Cunnilife has already committed to centrally funded Support Staff funding at the Living Wage and Inequity protest march on Saturday in Auckland.
Community Hubs:
  • Chris is very supportive of schools becoming a community hub, but sited the MOE as the biggest barrier to this, as the footprint of school buildings is controlled by the MOE, and the extra space that could be used to create a community hub is often removed by the MOE as it is deemed in excess of what the school needs to deliver to the students they have.
  • He wanted to align the government agencies better to help the schools have an easier pathway to help the students and families they are already doing a great job of helping.
  • Sue talked about how Melville High School in Hamilton (my old high school) is having perfectly good buildings demolished by the MOE because they are above their footprint, and how these buildings would be great to use as a community hub.  Chris talked about a school in his electorate that to keep a building had to remove the roof and reclad the building inside just to keep it as an 'outdoor facility', costing way more than any other options, just so the school stayed within the MOE deemed footprint.
  • Chris does support the Greens' policy of nurses in schools.
Special Needs Education:
  • Labour believes in inclusive education for special needs students.
  • He supports the rights of parents to choose the education setting for their special needs child.
  • Chris likes the idea of special units attached to schools so special needs students can get a mainstream education, but can also access intensive special needs education expertise more readily - the best of both worlds.
  • Chris is very concerned that the needs of children with moderate learning needs are not being met with the assistance they need due to funding.
School governance and BOTs and reorganisations and funding:
  • Chris said that Labour's stance on governance of schools is still be developed.
  • He said that the Tomorrow's Schools model is being unsystematically eroded and chipped at with no clear direction or philosophy.
  • He did agree that a review is likely and needs to allow for strong and robust community consultation and good research.
  • Chris does agree with Hekia Parata that the decile funding system is a blunt tool to determine funding to schools.
  • We have to get rid of the decile tarnish on schools but ensure that funding is targeted to schools that need it.
  • In regards to school reorganisations, if anyone has got any bright ideas on how to do school reorganisations with less pain to communities, please talk to Chris.  This is always messy.
The task ahead:
  • Sue then talked about how we have a project ahead of us this year to address in inequality and inequity and the best way to do this is to change the government.

I found the meeting to be a great way to clarify the vision Labour has for education in New Zealand under a Labour led government.

The one thing I think that was unclear and needs further discussion is the future of pre-service education for teachers and how that will look, and what the ultimate minimum qualification for new teachers will be.  The current National government policy is piecemeal and all over the place, and I would like to see Labour set a clear course on what they would expect.

Chris Hipkins and Sue Moroney met my standard for what education policy should be in New Zealand.

If you know of any other political parties coming to Hamilton to discuss their education policies please let me know.  In fairness, and for my own education, I would like to engage and feedback with as many parties as possible on their education visions.

No comments:

Post a Comment