Teacher scheme off to shaky start

MATTHEW DALLAS - DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 06/06/2014

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OPINION: What ever the Ministry of Education has been doing since it announced its teacher incentives plan in January, it clearly hasn't involved getting schools on board with the bold and expensive scheme.

As the Standard reported yesterday, the release of a report providing greater detail on the Government's $359 million Investing in Educational Success model did little to temper angst among Manawatu principals. If anything it's been heightened.

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.

Teachers and principals can aspire to higher paying roles, such as "executive principals" and "expert teachers", who would receive bonuses for time spent at other schools, while "change principals" would be tasked with intervening at failing schools.

But local principals have expressed concern that the overriding concept may ignore the individual needs of schools, be impractical in its convolution, and spend money - and a lot of it - in the wrong places.

"The volume of money being spent in remuneration for individuals with no clear understanding of how or if the system will work is concerning - there are no trials or precedents," said Colyton School principal Colin Martin.

Change is hard. It naturally breeds anxiety and often opposition. It's hard to know how much of the schools' apprehension is legitimate and how much is simply fear of the unknown.

It was made clear upon the scheme's announcement that it would take three years to develop and roll out across 1000 schools. It is only at the six-month mark. However, the Government was also adamant consultation would be a key part of the process moving forward. Yet going by the number of questions still being asked by schools, it appears this hasn't occurred, adding fuel to fears the changes are being put on the sector rather than being developed in partnership with it.

Whatever profession you are in, there is nothing more frustrating than not being listened to or having your input dismissed.

It is disappointing if the Government has again been left wanting on this front, and there can be little confidence in the scheme succeeding if principals and teachers are already drifting towards disillusionment.

ONE MORE THING

It's great to see the Tough Guy and Gal Challenge going from strength to strength, with a another mighty, muddy edition expected tomorrow. Those taking part - go hard.

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- Manawatu Standard

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