2 Jul 2018

Secondary principals call for teacher-only day for NCEA review

6:23 pm on 2 July 2018

The Secondary Principals Association wants the government to close schools for a day so teachers can make submissions on the review of the NCEA qualification.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The association's president, Mike Williams, said teachers and principals felt disrespected and ignored because the review did not include any special sessions for getting their views.

He said frustration with the review's approach was widespread.

"The sector, both teachers and principals, have been ignored. There's been no differentiation in the process.

"They're just the same as another member of the public, yet they do have a wealth of expertise and knowledge," Mr Williams said.

The Education Ministry had provided school staff with training in how to lead consultation themselves, he said, but that was not what they wanted.

Mr Williams said the association had asked the government to give schools a teacher-only day to work on their ideas.

"A teacher-only day would really give us a big window of space for teachers to really discuss the issues," he said.

"Just putting in some individual submissions is not the way to get the best ideas.

This is the first phase of the consultation but if we don't start off with rich and well-developed ideas at the beginning, then we're not going to get a good product at the end," he said.

However, Education Minister Chris Hipkins rebuffed the suggestion.

"During the school holiday period, schools are entitled to call-back days.

"If principals need dedicated time with teachers to make their submission, I encourage them to use their entitled call-back days or scheduled teacher-only days to do so," Mr Hipkins said.

Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The spokesperson for the 37 signatories to the weekend advertisement, Massey High School principal Glen Denham, said teachers and principals were worried the government was rushing the review.

"We're unhappy because we felt that we were not consulted properly as a professional body.

"The whole thing should have started with us," he said.

If you're going to change the bus route after 17 years, you've got to ask the bus driver."

Mr Denham said the government needed to change the review's advisory board - which included just one principal - and give schools time to get the views of their teachers and communities.

"What we would like is the resource to have those meetings - and it's about the window, 16 weeks is far too little to consider 30 years worth of education, we want it to be extended," he said.

President of the Post Primary Teachers Association, Jack Boyle, said he supported the call for a teacher-only day, but defended the consultation process.

"I don't feel like we really need to have too much say on a consultation that isn't going to be the final point, beyond the opportunities that have already been provided because we're swamped with administration and paperwork in our schools," he said.

Mr Boyle said some of the signatories to the weekend's advertisement were used to having their voices at the forefront of education debates and were probably unhappy that was not the case in the NCEA review.

Consultation on the review closes on 16 September.

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