Kate Hawkesby: School principals face a difficult decision

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 6 August 2019, 10:32AM
Photo / Getty Images

Next week, school principals will decide whether to take further action over their pay dispute. 

They also have the government's digital technologies curriculum due to be rolled out next year which many say schools are not ready or prepared for. They say there's not enough coherent support from the Ministry on that.

Principals are also upset over the government's allocation of learning support co-coordinator jobs.

It sounded so good in theory - 623 new learning support jobs created - but in dishing them out, the government has chosen schools which already work within the government’s own Learning Support Delivery Model.

Principals said they believed the roles would be “handed out evenly across the board”. 

They are claiming bias by the government in favouring schools already well down the government’s own learning support path. 

Which means those other schools in dire need of support, who may not be part of this model, have missed out. 

So what's the message here? If you’re a school following the government’s model, you’re more likely to see action from the government in terms of more support. 

But what about those schools doing it their own way? 

Those in smaller communities who know the needs of their families better than any government model might? 

What about those unable to implement the government’s model, for whatever reason. 

Associate Education Minister Tracy Martin claims Principals shouldn’t be surprised that learning co-coordinators are headed to schools which follow their model. She says that was always going to be the case, and that this is just the first tranche, that more are coming.

She did however believe every school in NZ should be moving towards the government’s model. 

And why doesn’t that surprise me? 

This government has shown, particularly when it comes to education, that it likes to micro-manage, it likes control. 

It’s a ‘my way or the highway’ situation. 

Get on board with the way we want you to do stuff, and you’ll see some money. Don’t, and you won’t. 

The same can be said of the tertiary sector and what they’re doing with polytechs and ITO’s. Centralising stuff, and bringing everything back under one umbrella, preferably one the government’s got a hold of, seems the modus operandi. 

It doesn’t account for individuality, or differences or diversity, or regional approaches that might work in communities outside of a Wellington office.

When told of the Principals’ upset and there’s about 1500 of them who’re aggrieved by this latest move. Tracy Martin’s response was that schools unable to implement their learning support model should “get in touch”. 

Do you have faith that’ll change anything? No, me neither.

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