. . . all high performing countries understand that excellent teachers are the key to lifting performance across the board. That’s why, whenever they have to make a choice between smaller classes and better teachers, high performing education systems will always opt for better teachers. . . . – Dr Muriel Newman
The government has released a report card on its Better Public Service targets:
More young people are achieving higher qualifications, welfare dependency continues to fall and Kiwis are doing more of their government transactions digitally, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Paula Bennett say.
The Government today published the latest update of progress against the ten challenging targets set three years ago by the Prime Minister.
“There are now 42,000 fewer children living in a benefit dependent household than there were three years ago. That’s more than the combined populations of Masterton and Levin,” Mr English says.
“Today’s results confirm the Government is making continued improvements to some of the really difficult issues that affect our communities and families, however progress in other areas is slower.
“We are getting a better understanding of the most vulnerable New Zealanders, and we’re willing to pay a bit more upfront to change their lives, because what works for the community also works for the Government’s books.”
Mrs Bennett says the BPS results targets were designed to drive a positive change in the public service and signal a willingness to try new things and work across agencies to have more of an impact in people’s lives.
“Significant progress has been made since the Prime Minister first set the targets in 2012,” Mrs Bennett says.
Since the targets were introduced:
- participation in Early Childhood Education has increased from 94.7 per cent to 96.1 per cent
- the proportion of immunised 8-month olds has increased from 84 per cent to 92.9 per cent
- there has been a 14 per cent decrease in people being hospitalised for the first time with rheumatic fever
- the trend in the number of children and young people experiencing substantiated physical abuse has flattened, after previously being on an upward trajectory
- the proportion of 18-year olds who achieve a NCEA Level 2 qualification has increased from 74.3 per cent to about 81.1 per cent
- the proportion of 25 to 34 year olds with a qualification at Level 4 or above has increased from 51.4 per cent to 54.2 per cent
- total crime, violent crime and youth crime have dropped 17.6 per cent, 9.1 per cent and 37.3 per cent respectively
- the rate of reoffending has dropped 9.6 per cent
- there has been a net reduction of 16 percent in business effort when dealing with government agencies
- 45.8 per cent of government service transactions are now completed digitally, up from 30.4 per cent in 2012.
“We set these targets to stretch the public services to get better results from the more than $70 billion we spend each year,” Mrs Bennett says. “We have always said that some of them will be challenging.
“For example, reducing rheumatic fever remains difficult, but progress has been made. The previously increasing trend for assaults on children has been successfully flattened, but more needs to be done to achieve the target.
“We are making progress in many cases by working with individuals and families to develop services better suited to their needs,” she says.
The government deserves credit for setting targets against which progress can be measured, for working for the most vulnerable and being prepared to spend more upfront to solve long-standing problems.
But these targets aren’t just about the government, they’re about people served by public servants and those public servants who are working to meet the targets.
Education minister Hekia Parata gives credit where it’s due:
Today’s Better Public Service (BPS) update showing the Government is on track to achieve its goal of lifting the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of teachers and principals, says Education Minister Hekia Parata. . .
These targets aren’t necessarily destinations, many are staging posts in a journey towards better public services and better outcomes for the people who use them.
The report is here.
My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors. Maya Angelou
“Schools are not there merely to teach in the old words of reading, writing and arithmetic, but they’re there to transition young people, especially at high school, into the real world,” . . . – Canterbury University dean of law Dr Chris Gallivan
“What would have happened if you told your parents you’d been punished for something you’d done at school?”
The question came from a teacher and my reply was simple – I wouldn’t have told them because I’d have got no sympathy and might have invited further punishment.
Had I felt I’d been unfairly dealt to and my parents agreed with me, the best I could have expected from them was acceptance that it was unfortunate but they would still have supported the school.
The teacher sighed and said if only they still had that level of support from parents. Instead, they got parents swearing black was white and their little angels could do no wrong.
That conversation was more than a decade ago and the teacher wasn’t then having to deal with legal action.
The St Bede’s College rowers axed from their Maadi Cup rowing team for breaching airport security say they took court action due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and have questioned whether the punishment was fair. . .
Teen rowers Jack Bell and Jordan Kennedy were removed from the school’s Maadi Cup rowing team after being given formal warnings by police and the Aviation Security Service for jumping on a baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport on Friday.
The pupils, who had just arrived on a domestic flight from Christchurch, rode the carousel through rubber curtains and into a restricted baggage area, the Civil Aviation Authority said.
The school ruled the pupils should be sent home. However, their parents, Shane Kennedy and Antony Bell, were granted a High Court injunction allowing their sons to stay and compete in the Maadi Cup.
A statement, released by the boys and their families on Monday afternoon, said the court action was never intended to justify their actions or to suggest the school was not entitled to take disciplinary action.
“The only reason for the court action was due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and over whether or not the decision as made was proportionate to the misbehaviour. The court action was certainly not taken lightly,” the statement said.
“They accept that what they did was stupid. No harm was meant and it was intended as nothing more than a prank.
“All parties are aware that following a full and fair investigation about the incident that there may well be disciplinary consequences.” . . .
Rector Justin Boyle says this sets a dangerous precedent:
St Bede’s rector Justin Boyle said the action could be seen as undermining the school’s authority.
“What it’s doing there is is taking away the ability of the school to manage their children and any educational activity outside the classroom.”
Mr Boyle said the school’s board was meeting today to consider what actions it would take.
St Bede’s lawyer Andrew McCormick said it was important the school got a decision on whether it was right to discipline the pupils.
He said the substantive hearing could not be held until the regatta is over, so the penalty becomes moot.
But he said there were broader implications as to whether schools and principals can exercise their discretion and discipline students. . .
The Principals’ Federation says this is a worrying trend.
Principals’ Federation president Denise Torrey says it sends the wrong message to students.
“The boys didn’t learn that there are consequences to your actions and that the whole reason we have rules or a code of conduct is to outline expected behaviour.”
Ms Torrey says parents taking action in the courts is a worrying trend. . . .
No-one is arguing about what the boys did nor whether it was wrong to do it.
The court action was questioning the school’s process.
And what does that teach children?
That if they do something stupid, breach the school’s code of conduct they can get a court to stop the school imposing the logical consequences of that, not because the boys were wronged but because the school might have got the process wrong.
Once more it appears that the right process is more important than what’s right and wrong.
Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced schools in Northland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Canterbury have gained approval to use a new allowance to recruit principals who can help them tackle significant challenges:
The Principal Recruitment Allowance was agreed as part of Investing in Educational Success, the $359 million package to help lift students’ educational achievement.
“A board of trustees can apply for approval to offer an allowance of $50,000 to help recruit a principal with the right skills to meet the particular and significant challenges at their school,” says Ms Parata.
“There are very clear criteria the school must meet in its application. These include significant underachievement, particularly for the groups of kids most at risk, serious safety or wellbeing issues for students and/or staff, high principal turnover or a number of statutory interventions.”
The five schools granted approval to offer the allowance are Opononi School and Mangamuka School in Northland, Ngaruawahia High School in Waikato, Kimi Ora Community School in Hawkes Bay and Aranui Community Campus in Canterbury.
Ms Parata says applicants for the positions will have to provide strong evidence of highly successful performance.
“We’re supporting schools with significant challenges to do one of the two most important things they can to lift educational achievement, which is get the right leadership in place.
“The other major in-school factor is the quality of teaching and we’re supporting that through new teaching roles and the communities of schools that will work together to share best practice to tackle their shared goals.”
Approval for the Principal Recruitment Allowance is given by the Secretary for Education.
Conditions of the allowance the allowance include:
- the fixed-term allowance attaches to a permanent principal position
- both the school and the applicant must meet separate eligibility criteria for the allowance to be payable
- the initial period of the allowance is for a fixed-term of three years; a board may seek approval to renew the allowance for a further period of up to two years (the allowance cannot be renewed more than twice)
- approval for payment (or renewal) of the allowance is discretionary and may be subject to conditions imposed by the Secretary for Education.
- consideration will be given to each expression of interest on its merits
- the allowance is on top of other remuneration offered by the employing board
- the allowance will end when the fixed period of the allowance ends, regardless of whether the principal ceases to be employed as a principal at the school; or when the principal ceases to be employed as a principal at the school.
All schools aren’t equal nor are their principals.
Schools with significant challenges need special leadership.
Those leaders deserve financial recognition of the challenges they face and for their skills, experience and accomplishments.
The Green Party wants to provide free food for all low decile schools, whether or not they want it.
Fonterra is already sharing the goodness of milk, delivering it free to any and all schools which want it.