Primary teachers’ union the NZEI Te Riu Roa has released a new online tool that allows schools to compare benefits of the Government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy with other options, such as more resourcing for teacher aides and smaller classes.
The online calculator allows schools to input their roll, and the number of staff who would likely take on a leadership role (formerly described as ‘executive principal’), an across-school teacher role (expert teacher) and within-school teacher role (lead teacher) in a Community of Schools under the IES scheme. The Principal Recruitment Allowance (formerly ‘Change Principal’) has not been included as it is limited to a small number of schools and is therefore unlikely to affect the cast majority of schools using the calculator.
"This is an important tool because it very clearly illustrates what kids would miss out on if the funding is spent on teacher and principal bonuses instead of initiatives that would directly benefit children’s learning,” says NZEI president, Judith Nowotarski. “Obviously we want to see more investment in education but it’s important to get the best value for money and to have that investment targeted to where we know it will directly benefit kids’ learning. “Enhancing genuine collaboration and sharing effective teaching practice is very important. But it has to be genuine collaboration and not the top-down corporate model that the government is proposing.”
A hypothetical test run of the calculator reveals that a school will benefit from a fraction of their teachers’ time under IES. The NZEI Better Plan, by contrast gives the merits of 100% qualified teachers in ECE, smaller classes, the sharing success fund and access to $20 million of funding for Maori initiatives.
Meanwhile the secondary teachers' union the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) executive has rejected the NZEI's Better Plan proposal and has taken the decision to work with the Ministry of Education to tailor IES to schools' needs. The PPTA has disseminated resource kits and proposed variations on IES and is preparing to vote on the policy from 10-20 November.
The division between the unions is leaving many principals uncertain whether to support IES or not. Waikato Primary Principals’ Association president, John Coulam told Radio New Zealand that the principals he’d spoken with “felt caught between a rock and a hard place”. Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Deidre Alderson also said its members are split over the issue.