12 Mar 2014

Teacher unease emerging about new plan

10:45 am on 12 March 2014

Some primary-school staff are starting to oppose the Government's plan to create new roles for high-performing teachers and principals who will be paid more to raise student achievement.

Their concerns about the policy have prompted the Principals Federation - whose president, Philip Harding, initially welcomed the plan - to call an urgent meeting with the Education Minister and the Secretary for Education. The meeting will be held next week.

The Educational Institute, which represents teaching and support staff, is considering abandoning consultation on the policy, and Principals Federation spokesperson Denise Torrey says it needs to be rewritten.

The organisations say they have seen no evidence that the proposed system of highly paid expert and lead teachers and principals will benefit children. They also oppose the use of national standards information to decide which teachers get the new jobs.

Ms Torrey says the federation's members are worried about many aspects of the policy.

"The problem with the whole thing," she says, "is the ministry wants us to sort out a plan that they've come up with. We're saying we don't want that plan because there's no evidence that's the best plan in the New Zealand context.

"So let's start again and let's develop a really good plan using this money that would give good outcomes for kids and also have leadership pathways for teachers and principals."

Ms Torrey says principals now need to persuade the ministry they can improve the scheme.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says nearly two years of research and cross-sector collaboration has gone into the plan. She says delegations have gone to Asia to look at how their systems are working and gathered evidence internationally that supports the plan.

What's proposed under the plan

Under the policy, announced by the Prime Minister in January, the Government will create a new role of change principal who will be paid an extra $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.

The other main points are:

  • Three other new roles will be established: executive principal, lead teacher and expert teacher.
  • About 250 executive principals will be appointed to mentor and support principals of other schools nearby. They will be given two days a week off from their main job and be paid an extra $40,000 a year.
  • Lead teachers will be paid an extra $20,000 a year to act as role models for teachers within their own and other local schools. Their classrooms will be open to other teachers to observe how they work.
  • Expert teachers will also earn an extra $20,000 a year and will work with executive principals, particularly to lift achievement in mathematics, science and literacy.