Lecturer chosen to give advice on project

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 23/06/2014

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A Palmerston North education expert has been shoulder-tapped to give advice on a controversial Government scheme worth millions of dollars.

Six specialists have been asked by Education Minister Hekia Parata to join an advisory group working on the $359 million Investing in Educational Success project.

Palmerston North-based Massey University Institute of Education senior lecturer Dr Jenny Poskitt was one, with the others from Auckland and Canterbury universities, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and from the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Parata said: "They all have strong records of how to improve education to get the very best for our kids and from schools and teachers,"

The initiative is mainly about collaboration between principals, teachers and schools in order to raise student achievement.

Since the concept was rolled out last month, a working group made up of boards of trustees, unions, principals, and Maori and Pasifika representatives has been discussing the policy proposal and suggesting changes.

Now the academic advisory group will add its voice to the mix, with the panel meeting tomorrow to start work.

The academics would have a governance function, ensuring money would be spent efficiently and determining what models might look like, Poskitt said.

"The devil is often in the detail, as the saying goes, and that's the purpose of the advisory group, to sort through the details."

The new approach is intended to improve outcomes for students and retain teaching talent by encouraging co-operation between schools, creating better leadership pathways and supporting teacher-led innovation.

"We're working more on the overall principles and guiding factors to ensure that it's successful and effective for teachers, schools and therefore learners," she said.

Manawatu principals have expressed concern that the overriding concept may ignore the individual needs of schools, be impractical, and money may be spent in the wrong places.

"I find that really sad that there is such controversy and resistance, because it's an opportunity for schools, and their communities, to decide what they want to improve," Poskitt said.

"It gives them flexibility to decide how they're going to do it, who they're going to involve, what target they want to reach and they're being given financial support to do so.

"Change is scary, time-demanding and energy-sapping, especially when it's hard enough as it is to keep schools ticking," she said.

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"But my sense is there's goodwill to work with schools to do this well and in a way that's going to work."

- Manawatu Standard

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