Teachers accused of sabotage

BY REBECCA HARPER
Last updated 17:36 02/03/2009

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Two ex board members have accused some teachers at Fairfield College of a campaign to undermine the principal and board.

Fairfield College teachers have been accused of sabotaging classes, leading to a drop in academic results.

Only 29 per cent of NCEA Level 1 students passed last year.

In a parting shot, two board members who resigned last week, Michael Crawford and Winston Pinkerton, said an "unfortunate drop" in NCEA Level 1 pass rates in 2008 was the result of "a campaign by some teachers resistant to change, to undermine the authority and leadership of the principal and the board".

They said this included refusal to carry out basic aspects of their jobs, such as participating in consultation processes, filing reports and information, carrying out agreed actions and meeting deadlines.

"Regrettably this impacted on teaching and learning in 2008," they said.

The school had a turbulent year with deep divisions, and personality clashes between the principal Julie Small, her management team and board, and teaching staff.

The former board members said some heads of department and other teachers began the action when they realised they were required to have their performance properly appraised and be held accountable for student academic results.

But Fairfield teacher and PPTA branch representative Jennifer Hamilton said there had also been a good crop of scholarships among the senior students.

"When I look at classes there are some stunning individual results," she said.

"They are students who consistently come to class and they complete their work.

"I'm not saying all the results are fantastic, but there are good students who have had great results.

"I would hope that individual teaching and mentoring from staff also has had some impact on that."

A range of contributing factors could have led to a drop in results. Factors could include attendance data, truancy rates, suspension and stand-downs, and staff turnover.

"It's interesting that NCEA results are down for Level One (during the new regime) while those who have been at the school four or five years appear to have done well."

She said there would be a lot of staff searching and reflecting to find out why their results went down. "Teaching staff in this school are passionate, highly qualified and we want our students to do well."

Mrs Small, who took up the principal's position at the beginning of 2007, said she remained committed to raising student achievement.

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"The strategies we put in place in 2007 to help raise student achievement were communicated solidly ... everyone brought into that and look at the results."

At the end of 2006, just before she was appointed, 39 per cent of students achieved NCEA Level One.

At the end of 2007 that figure had been lifted to 51 per cent.

"That year when everyone was on the same page it was great. In 2008 we needed to sustain and build on that. Often it is easy to implement the change, but sustaining that change can be harder ... perhaps something we need to look at."

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority said official results would be made public by April, but results had already been released to schools. 

 

- Waikato Times

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