School reforms to affect every student

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:37 24/01/2014
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A major overhaul to the New Zealand teaching system is a big game-changer, says Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons.

Mr Parsons, who is also principal of Queen Charlotte College in Picton, was in Auckland yesterday when Prime Minister John Key announced the changes in his annual State of the Nation speech.

Every student in the country would be affected by the changes, Mr Parsons said.

"It breaks down a lot of competition between schools and encourages collaboration and cooperation," he said.

"Schools are now encouraged to export and import best practice."

The Government will spend an extra $359 million over the next four years to support teachers and principals, including the creation of four new management roles in schools - executive principals, expert teachers, lead teachers and change principals.

"It's enhanced the profession without a doubt. There's now career progression - teachers and principals have something to aspire to."

Mr Parsons is a step ahead of most teaching professionals in that he was involved in the planning of the nation-wide overhaul, including a ministry funded trip to Singapore and Hong Kong with eight others last year to research best teaching practices.

Education Minister Hekia Parata had also asked him to be part of the team that would help "sort out the detail", he said.

Secretary for Education Peter Hughes wanted the team to begin next month and to have any problems resolved by April, he said.

Positions were expected to be appointed by the end of the year with the new system in place by 2017.

The changes would affect all schools in Marlborough, including early childhood, primary schools and rural schools, such as Rai Valley Area School, and Kaikoura, Mr Parsons said.

"This is the essence of the changes," he said. "We'd neglected some of those schools, but now there will be a sole charge in a department, so instead of working in isolation, a top-quality teacher who is recognised in that area will encourage all schools to get best practice."

Changes and financial benefits for the newly created roles would recognise expert teaching and good leadership. More people would be encouraged to join the profession, which would promote competition and ultimately raise the status of the profession, Mr Parsons said.

"We need the brightest and best to aspire towards teaching," he said.

"If you're the best there is, it's giving you the status, the time and the finance to recognise that."

It was something those in the teaching profession had been asking for for a long time, he said.

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"It's not all about money. It's about status and recognition that you're doing a good job."

- The Marlborough Express

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