- Last Updated: 15 April 2016
Notes from a meeting of Secondary Principals’ Council 22-23 March 2016
1. Health and Safety - Visit from Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support, Ministry of Education
Liability? Not really
Principals have voiced concerns about the liabilities they may be subject to as a result of the health and safety. Katrina was keen to emphasise that schools do a pretty good job currently and though she accepted there were concerns around liability, the reality is that very little has changed from previous requirements. (The fine in the past was $500,000) She said that in the absence of case law it is difficult to give schools cast-iron guarantees but judging from previous incidents in schools, the high test for required for negligence won’t be met. There is no need for schools to change their practice – just review what they already have. She did not think it was necessary for principals to put their assets into a trust and pointed out that would not help them escape the prison sentence should they cross the negligence threshold.
A new, comprehensive publication on health and safety which replaces the ministry fact sheets has been developed in conjunction with the sector.
Principals are welcome to contact Katrina or the regional directors if they have specific health and safety concerns.
Policy and Training
The problem is that consultants are trying to drum up attendance at their very expensive courses. PPTA offers courses – considerably cheaper than the going rate for consultants. (Note: The initial courses have been oversubscribed and more are being organised but there is a waiting list.)
Costs for Schools
SPC remains concerned about the costs for schools (time and training for health and safety reps) and will be taking this up with the ministry.
2. Digital Assessment - Visit from Sue Chalmers, Manager of examinations at NZQA: Digital Assessment
Validity of assessment
NZQA’s aim is to ensure that this initiative enhances achievement and works for kids. She pointed out that for most students, pen and paper is not the preferred way of doing assessment and not something they have practice in. At the same time, students for who don’t have regular access to devices must have their interests protected.
Ensuring all kids have a fair go is the challenge. NZQA has suspended the eMCAT because the technology (graphics calculators) doesn’t work for most kids who have been found to do the work on paper and type their answers in. This takes more time and disadvantages the students. Issues like this are behind the voluntary pilot approach.
NZQA wants digital assessment to be all go by 2020 but is proceeding with care. TOGA (Technical Overview Group Assessment) is providing guidance to NZQA on how to approach the issues, using the 2016 data to refine the process.
The NZQA board chair has been reported as saying assessment will be, “anywhere, anytime, on demand.” Anywhere is easier than anytime and on demand which has implications for school programmes.
NZQA has appointed a vendor from overseas to manage this. Israel and Finland are most advanced and Queensland is also very experienced. It had a system that was entirely internal but is now bringing in some externals which will be fully digital.
NZQA is also seeking feedback from the sector on managing security. The aim is to know if students leave the assessment (as they could with eMCAT) and visit other sites but that is very hard to manage in an anytime, anywhere assessment regime. It is possible to lock down the internet on the student’s device and the QA interface doesn’t allow cut and paste. What they need to do is prevent is students memorising a whole essay or downloading it from the hard drive. The other approach is to design assessments that could include allowing students to access the internet, like the old open-book assessments.
This is the school’s responsibility. Schools can do it or not as they like. What QA has to do is make electronic moderation possible. Digital Technology is already experimenting with this with some success. It takes less time for teachers to submit, it is easier to mark and reduces administration for markers; it is also much cheaper - the difference between $14.00 and several thousand dollars. In Art, it can help with some of the submissions for moving images and may also be able to do painting as the assessment is about the process of creating the art work as much as the finished product. It appears though, that it takes markers longer to do it on screen.
Any benefits that markers find from external marking will be passed on to schools. Computer marking is unlikely in New Zealand because it only works when there is a large enough cohort. There is an issue of the size requirements of some assessments already. In terms of teacher workload, NZQA is restricting word numbers in externals. It was noted that the bigger asks are sometimes there so the teachers can better delineate between merit and excellence. This will have to be watched as there is great capacity for word numbers to explode once students are using a device. QA is deliberately choosing exemplars that are concise.
3. Youth Guarantee - Visit from Graeme Marshall, Ministry of Education
Graeme explained the background to the youth guarantee programme. He said the capacity for dual enrolment in a secondary school and a tertiary institution was an international first and that we were already at the cusp of meeting the target for 85% of 18 year olds achieving Level 2. In response to a question about where the level 3 standards for schools are, Graeme’s answer was that it probably needs to be done outside of schools – that it is wasteful to duplicate facilities. He referred to a programme in which the students do Physics, Maths and English at school and Level 4-5 engineering at Wintec.
Risks to Senior Programmes
The point was made that schools need to run meaningful senior programmes or they cannot sustain enrolments. The ministry model of 3 plus 2 (ie leaving secondary school at the end of year 12) is creating classes too small to be viable. It may be that an integrated programme can provide some answers or (as Graeme suggested) a different sort of timetable. It was observed that even if schools could do these things (and there is some justified doubt since it hasn’t been achieved yet despite the ministry advocating it for more than 10 years) the system may be developing its own self-interested dynamic with institutions like Wintec only wanting students with Level 2 maths.
Where are the Level 3 standards?
Principals raised the issue again about the lack of leadership from the ministry on Level 3 standards. Despite all the effort going into pathways there are no pathways for level 3 – just a few standards. What is needed is the development of high quality resources that teachers can use, as was once done once by the Education Department’s Curriculum division. Schools can’t be left to do this on their own.
- March returns are now entirely electronic;
- ESOL information will be available on ENROL;
- They can track the number of kids out of school;
- Electronic student visas are coming online. Schools will have to do this rather than MOE;
- They are looking at attendance over time and by term and can scatter graph attendance and achievement showing impact over years. Transience has a major impact on achievement. There is a strong link between achievement and attendance and between attendance and teacher workload;
- Board elections will be all electronic;
- ECE participation data will be available for primary schools;
- Schools will need to provide evidence for the issuing of a “hot card” for Auckland transport;
- School funding forms are now all online;
- There is now space for other along with male and female on forms.
- Finally, if there is any statistical information that schools want just ask them to gather it.
5. Social Investment Data approach to school funding
Allan has been approached by the media to comment on this. It clearly offers possibilities for more refined and targeted funding. He felt that the concentration factor which proposes to recognise how the problem increases geometrically as the number of disadvantaged students increases in any one school, is an important step forward. One of the concerns is the privacy factor but schools will not have individualised data. Peter Hughes is getting a group together to develop these proposals.
6. Teach First NZ
There has been a settlement with TFNZ, the Ministry and schools agreeing to follow the appointment requirements set out in the State Sector Act and the collective agreements and PPTA agreeing to withdraw action against the schools.
7. Sexual abuse in schools
Katrina Casey noted in the discussions with SPC that she spent far more time dealing with sex offenders in schools than health and safety issues. The ministry regions are still developing skills around supporting schools dealing with a sexual abuse charge. If principals are concerned they should call Katrina directly. A good signal is a teacher spending too much time students. The biggest issue the ministry has is with complaints not being investigated – offenders usually do not accept they have done anything wrong so it is often beyond the school to conduct the interview and they should consider calling in the experts, the police. She said schools have a critical role in supporting families and it is important to focus on that and not be defensive.
8. Vulnerable children
The ministry accepts that there are wide-ranging concerns about the workload and bureaucracy attached to this exercise It is working with the sector to make it more manageable.
9. Teacher Supply Discussion
The meeting was joined by some of the members of the Secondary Teacher Supply Working Party: Lorraine Kerr, Hazel Barnes, Barry Boothby, Paul Aitken, Barbara Benson and Sarah Borrell.
Secondary Teacher Supply Working Party
Problems with the proposal for an Auckland Allowance.
- Do you pay everyone regardless of whether they own a house or not?
- Do you pay them more knowing they will be immensely advantaged by the capital gain?
- Do you make it Auckland-wide?
- How much would it have to be to make houses affordable?
- What would the impact be on house prices?
Other comments on supply included:
- There is a growing problem around middle manager recruitment;
- CoL positions are very attractive but no one can afford to let their middle managers go;
- Technology, especially hard materials is impossible to staff. It has never recovered from the badly-implemented curriculum change, the salary impact of the G3 decision and the competition from polytechnics for teachers;
- If secondary schools are unable to teach technology, there is a risk kids will not go into it later;
- There are three high schools in Northland who have had no applications for HoD jobs;
- The Technology scholarships, worked for recruitment in foods but not so well for the other tech subjects;
- Tech teachers need to be specialised and able to work in all materials – this is asking for a lot;
- Again schools need good resource support and perhaps a school-based retraining option;
- Differential pay for certain subjects is not necessarily the answer – one school has had no applicants for an English position usually not considered a shortage area:
- Overseas teachers don’t stay in rural schools;
- Retraining primary teachers to teach secondary is only helpful if they have specialist skills or the right training and support. They are excellent in the junior school;
- It is impossible to find relievers in Fiordland – especially for HoD positions which have to be covered with non-specialists;
- Enthusiasts for subject areas can really make it meaningful and enjoyable for kids;
- NZ needs much better supply management – there is an oversupply of primary teachers and of PE graduates. Is it time for pre-service quotas?
- Kids may not want to go secondary teaching because they are put off by the behaviour of their peers;
- Replacing long term relieving positions is hard – schools need positions for itinerant teachers or attached relievers;
- Supply is currently really patchy; getting teachers from overseas can be a risk; it can create great stress for everyone – especially HoDs.
- It is important to actually increase the pool - not just move teachers around.
- HoD recruitment is a real nightmare. It is such a complex job. One principal lost a top-notch HoD last year job because the job was simply too hard for someone with a family.
- The demands on middle managers are unreasonable. There is no prospect of succession – no one wants the job. There is simply not enough time and money;
- There have already been an unprecedented 4000 responses to PPTA’s HoD survey;
- Is it time to go back to studentships?
- Bad PR about schools from politicians doesn’t help;
- All schools need to take responsibility for capacity building in the profession;
- There is no real investment in young teachers anymore compared with, for example, the week-long Lopdell House courses that used to be provided;
- The absence of Ag/hort science teachers is a real concern given it is one area that has real jobs for students and is so important to NZ;
- Why are there so many fixed-term appointments?
- bulk funding of trades academies causes staffing insecurity;
- 900 teachers employed from the Ops Grant which transfers the risk of being overstaffed to schools;
- the economic situation;
- kids being bussed out of the local area;
- failing intermediate schools;
- charter schools;
- filling leave positions –often only beginning teachers apply – because of the .8 a second BT may be needed;
- the only applicant is not in the subject area so can’t be appointed permanently;
- if people are immobile, they may accept fixed term positions rather than leave an area.
- Twenty per cent of the workforce is over 60 but the system still needs “older” maths and physics teachers;
- If there was more time for middle managers, they could help with mentoring younger teachers into careers;
- School houses in rural areas are not an incentive because they have not been looked after since they were sold off.
SPC members are available to talk to local principals’ groups about the technical side of teacher supply.
10. Planning and reporting framework
The ministry is seeking responses on proposals to update the planning and reporting framework in the Education Act. The meeting developed a response to the questions with a particular focus on the problem of the centre constantly demanding more from schools without committing additional funding and support and the short-sighted proposal to remove principal’s voting rights from boards of trustees.
Tuesday 31 May – Wednesday 1 June