Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hekia Parata and the Public Achievement Information Tour

One Friday afternoon, the 15th of August to be exact, after school, I made my way, at the speed limit only, to Hamilton, an hour's drive from my school.  My destination was the Public Achievement Information meeting by held by Hekia Parata at the St Peter's Cathedral Hall.
I only knew about this meeting due to a member of the NZEI National Executive telling a meeting I attended about it the previous Saturday.  He then emailed me the details and my principal agreed that I could attend.
I did arrive half an hour late.  I had to complete the IES (Investing in Education Success) voting process for my school as I am the NZEI worksite representative.  A valid reason to be late in my opinion.  I was assured by my NZEI National Executive friend and another friend who is a Board of Trustees chair that I hadn't missed anything other than a lesson on reading the PAI statistics and graphs.
PAI - that means Public Achievement Information - and I only found that out by googling "PAI meeting Hekia Parata" after the meeting because no one else knew what those letters stood for.
So what is this Public Achievement Information?
It is the National Standards data displayed for public consumption broken down by city and district council.
Here is a link to the MOE Public Achievement Information starter page.  And here is the blurb for the reason for the meeting:

The purpose of these public meetings is to present the 2013 New Zealand public achievement information. The wider context is not just the results but the "so what", the challenges we face and some insight into the Ministry’s response to those challenges.
This set of results represent the New Zealand wide education system view, covering early childhood education participation and NCEA level two achievement (two of the Ministry’s Better Public Service targets), along with a wider set of indicators including National Standards, Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori and school leavers.
We can put these in to a local context and enable you to use this data in your communities and schools. It is about supporting you in having the right discussions and making the right decisions in order to raise student achievement.
The Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata will speak at the meetings. The Minister will be accompanied by Ministry Deputy Secretaries Lisa Rodgers and Katrina Casey.
So I had arrived for question time.

The meeting in the St Peter's Hall in Hamilton.  This photo comes from

The woman asking the question when I sat down was first giving a comprehensive background to it.

Her intelligent son, who wants to be a doctor, has a conduct disorder.  It was effectively managed and controlled at primary school.  The wheels got wobbly at Intermediate.  The wheels fell off at High School where the child ended up being excluded during his Year 10 year.  By the time of this meeting, he had been out of school for seven months and had only just been accepted for Correspondence School.  In the meantime, this boy's personal worth had taken a dive and he had attempted to take his own life.   

So the question asked was what is Hekia doing for kids who slip through the system due to behaviour issues?

Hekia replied that it's not what she's doing personally, but what schools are doing.   She said that quality teachers and good decision making by BOTs would solve this boy's issues.  The room groaned. 

She then went on to describe PB4L and other work programmes focused on behaviour.  Hekia admitted that special education is under funded and needs work.  She said a range of things were in place to help this boy.  

But cleatly it's not working, because then the parent said that despite ticking every box her kid was denied help. The MOE had admitted to this parent that hundreds of kids like her son missing out. Personally, I know at least three kids who fit this profile.  If the MOE has no confidence in their own systems to support at risk learners with behaviour issues, then how can parents?

The next question was about IES and how a community of schools selected will work.

Hekia replied it's about making transition between ECE to primary to intermediate to college.  Schools and centres will opt in and look at these pathways, what barriers are in place and how to soothe them.  The community of schools will be asking questions like:  
  • What are the typical pathways within a community?
  • What is the baseline data? 
  • What are the needs in that community?  
These must be common challenges to work on together in addition to schools own goals.  Then the executive principal, expert teacher and lead teacher (or whatever the new titles are) will work together to spread excellence and work on the needs identified.
Hekia then went on to say that the Prime Minister announced it in January so it could be co-constructed with the profession.  I choked a little on that comment. 

Hekia then said that the MOE had been in negotiations with the PPTA for month and that we would know where NZEI stood the following week.

Since then PPTA have finished their negotiations and their members will vote on it in early term four, well after the general election.  And 93% of the 70% of NZEI teacher members who participated thoroughly rejected the option to vary the Primary Teachers Collective Agrrement, and primary principals also rejected their collective agreement being varied as well.

It is intended that the IES structure will be in place for term one 2015 if National is returned to government.

A question was then asked by Terry Casey, the principal of Kaihere School, in regards to the union's (NZEI) message over the IES consultation that has happened.

Hekia replied by talking about the minister's forum that has been in place during the last two years.  She talked about it being a voluntary involvement.  Then she explained that NZEI took itself out at the end of 2013, but NZEI still welcome and able to participate.  Her tone of voice at this point was condescending despite the polite phrases used.

Hekia then went on to explain about the delegation to Asia in October 2013.  Judith Nowataski (the NZEI president) was invited to be part of the trip and took part in reporting back.  Angela Roberts (PPTA president) and other education group representatives (STA, Spaanz, NZPF) also participated in the trip and reporting back. 
After that development of IES started (at this stage the only parties involved with the MOE and STA - not even the MOE's own research unit knew anything about it and were appalled to find out on the day of John Key's State of the Nation speech that this policy had been developed without the appropriate research to back it up). 
Then the IES announcement was made on the day of the State of the Nation (and every education group was blind sided).  The work streams began in February and NZEI has been on all work streams as they want.  Hekia explained that as things are resolved in the work streams, it is made public. 
During this little explanation of how it all worked, Hekia's distain for NZEI was palpable.  While she made pretty phrases about NZEI, the condescension dripped.

It is time to clear this up for the Minister.  This is why NZEI withdrew two times from consultation with the Minister and the MOE:
  • The Minister's Forum was established after the class size debacle.  NZEI participated, but it became apparent during 2013 that it's voice was being drown out due to the process.  All recommendations to the Minister were made by majority consensus.  Often NZEI had a contrary view to the final recommendation due to it not being a good fit in the primary or ECE sector or contrary to the collective agreements of the members.  As a result, after consulting the membership, NZEI made the decision to withdraw from the Minister's Forum in December.  Prior to the withdrawal the IES proposal was never discussed in the Forum.
  • NZEI did participate in the work streams and consultation on IES from February 2014.  But again it found that the process for recommendations being forwarded to the Minister was by majority consensus.  Again, NZEI found that its contrary view was drowned out, and that to stay within the process was to condone recommendations that they did not support.  That is why when the MOE finally presented its claim to vary the collective agreements of primary teachers and principals, NZEI went back to the membership to get a mandate before opening negotiations with the MOE.  70% of the primary teaching and principal members responded by the due date, and 93% of those members refused to begin the negotiations and supported an alternative way to spend the $359 million allocated for IES directly on students.

As Hekia spoke, I looked over to my friend from the NZEI executive.  He was exceeding the National Standard on Self Management.  I know it grated him to hear Hekia defame the decisions of the NZEI executive and the membership, and that is why I am writing this part of the blog about the meeting to clarify the position NZEI found itself in.

A grandparent stood to speak and commended the minister for her good work with Maori & Pacifica achievement.  Obviously blue party faithful.
A parent stood to speak about student engagement and presence in school. They wanted to know why teachers and management are still sending kids out of class, and even home from school, for uniform issues?

Hekia stated that BOTs are responsible for issues such as the setting of uniform standards and the rules around it.  Parents and communities need to have their own discussion with BOTs about the standards and rules of uniforms.  But if the stand down process isn't being done properly go to the school and talk to the principal, then if you are still not satisfied talk to the BOT.  If you feel a satisfactory resolution is not met, then you contact the MOE for help.  If you are still not satisfied, then you contact the Minister, then ombudsman.  Hekia then went on to say that stand downs and exclusions are at a 20 year low.
Finally there was a question about that old chestnut, Novopay. Where are costs at now and where are we up to now?

Hekia said Novopay was clearly a dog.  She then explained that the government was now establishing a crown owned enterprise and Talent2 had been negotiated out.  The education payroll is the most difficult payroll in the country with numerous changes each fortnight. She said to solve this problem it would be ideal to simplify collective agreements without losing conditions or allowances.  Good luck with figuring out how to do that.
Shane Ngatai from Rhode Street School then asked a question regarding deciles and changing of the Education Act.

Hekia explained that the current Education Act is 25 years old with amendment after amendment.  The Act needs simplifying, modifying and currently doesn't really mention students.  She explained that deciles divide schools into ten categories according to socio-economic data and was well intended but a blunt instrument.  She believes funding has to be about the need of the children, and not a proxy for quality.  Hekia said that according to PISA data, decile 1 schools are producing quality achievement just like decile 10 schools.

The Minister then went on to say that she loves the job of being Minister of Education (obviously a response to the outgoing Minister of Health, Tony Ryall's, valedictory speech in Parliament a few days before).  She said being the Minister of Education was the best job in world.  She then said her own education was in decile 1 & 4 schools (funny thing is though is that decile funding was not invented until the 1990s by the then National government and all Hekia's formal primary and secondary schooling would have been in the '60s and '70s, so that really doesn't fly Minister).
The next question:  Who would IES roles report to?

They will report to their own BOTs. These roles will not be hierarchical, but horizontal according to the Minister (ahem... how?).  Hekia called it a new way of leading and the focus of these leaders will be coming in to lead the delivery of the achievement focuses.  She then went on to claims some elements of the IES model come from Finland (which ones are those Minister, because it looks nothing like the Finland model) as well as Asia.
A parent then stood up saying special education system was under funded and asked what the Minister would do about it.

Hekia replied that it is not an either/or situation. She said the quality of tching means special education kids succeed (collective groan in the room because we know that our access to specialised experts and teachers has been restricted and strangled).  But $359 million for IES is not for special education said Hekia. Its about improving quality of teaching for all.  And didn't really answer the question at all....

And then it was the end of the meeting.

This is a link to the news article published on Stuff about the meeting:  Deciles 'proxy for quality': Minister.

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