Teachers take role in leadership plan

Teacher unions and others in the profession are helping design the details of a major new government education initiative.

Investing in Educational Success is not about paying large allowances to selected people, or creating a bigger corporate management structure. 

Recently NZEI past-president Ian Leckie incorrectly stated that the education profession has not been consulted on the Government's major new $359 million initiative, Investing in Educational Success Why teachers are wary about a multimillion-dollar pay rise, June 5).

In fact, teacher unions and others in the profession have been working closely with the Government on the detail of the new initiative since very soon after it was announced in January.

A working group was formed of representatives from the NZEI, the PPTA, the New Zealand School Trustees Association, Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Principals' Federation, the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Area Schools Association, the New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling, Nga Kura a Iwi o Aotearoa, Te Rūnanganui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori, and the Pasifika Principals' Association. It is chaired by Secretary for Education Peter Hughes.

This significant investment is designed to raise student achievement by building the quality and consistency of teaching and leadership across our education system.

We want to keep the best teachers in classrooms, share excellent practice so it becomes universal practice, and ensure that every student gets a better education. We want to get the best principals to the schools that need them most. We want better career pathways to attract the best and keep them in the profession. We want to reward their excellence with salaries that reflect their skills.

Leckie's comments are unfortunate and a disappointing contrast to others in the education profession.

On the other hand, PPTA president Angela Roberts last week described the Government's collaboration with the education profession as "a positive example of sector collaboration".

She described the consultation process as "comprehensive, robust and genuine". She said the sector had "worked hard together to find pragmatic answers" and that "We feel Cabinet has heard us".

Secondary Principals Association chairman Tom Parsons has described the package as potentially a game-changer for education.

I have released the report of the working group so that those who wish to comment can actually see for themselves what the working group had to say.

And for further transparency, I have also released the Cabinet paper in response. There is much more work ahead, and we are keen to continue to work together with the profession to get this right.

Investing in Educational Success is not about paying large allowances to selected people, or creating a "bigger corporate management structure" as Leckie asserts.

It is about setting achievement challenges specific to a community of schools and then using these additional resources of very skilled teachers and principals to work within and across that community to meet the challenges.

These challenges might be about mathematics, or science, or digital literacy. They will be a shared learning concern of the schools involved and they will be based on information about the specific needs of students in those schools. The professional collaboration that this initiative is based upon will target those needs together.

This initiative is exciting, it picks some of the best elements out of some of the most successful systems around the world, and is anchored in our knowledge of what works in New Zealand, and what our challenges are.

We are investing in educational success for every New Zealand child, and we are doing so with the profession.

- Hekia Parata is the Minister of Education.