Education funding

May 16th, 2012 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

School class sizes are going up and the Government is working on for teachers, Minister Hekia Parata has announced.

In a pre-Budget announcement to a business audience in Wellington this morning, Parata said there would be an extra $60m invested over four years for boosting teacher recruitment and training.

“We will collaborate in the development of an appraisal system on driving up quality teaching and quality professional leadership.

Performance pay is but one of a basket of options to reward and recognise that,” Parata said.

“We are not investing in more teachers, we are investing in better teaching.”

Ultimately performance pay can only work well if you delegate funding to school boards and allow principals flexibility in deciding pay rates. You might have a nationwide collective setting minimum salary levels, but the funding should be flexible enough so that the best teachers could be earning say double the worst.

There had been “some trade-offs” so that the Government could afford the new investment, she said.

Teacher – student ratios in the mid-years of education (years two to 10) would be increased. Instead of the existing range of anywhere between one to 23 up to one to 29, there would be a single ratio of one to 27.5.

The ratio for students sitting NCEA at years 11, 12 and 13 would be standardised at one to 17.3, instead of the existing range of between one to 17 and one to 23.

“These ratios are a funding formula – they are how we as a Government fund schools. The actual number of children in a classroom is set by the school.”

New entrants (year one) would keep its one to 15 ratio.

The ratio changes would “free up” $43m, on average, in each year over the next four years.

In the last ten years, student numbers had grown by 2.52 per cent, but teacher numbers had grown 12.76 per cent over the same period, Parata said.

About 90 per cent of schools would either gain or have a net loss of less than one full time equivalent teachers as a result of the combined effect of the changes.

The changes look pretty minor.

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27 Responses to “Education funding”

  1. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    David, you and I know these changes will cause global warming, the downfall of western democrarcies and murder children.

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  2. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    So increasing classes sizes is going to save $43 million a year. At roughly $65K per teacher that is around 650 less teachers.

    That’s not minor.

    Maybe someone can explain how bigger class sizes and less teachers is an improvement to our current system, because if it’s not an improvement we are going backwards.

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  3. hmmokrightitis (1,595 comments) says:

    DPF:”The changes look pretty minor.”

    Whereas the lefts persepctive will be…

    Children will die (Hone Hatfield)

    Mokapuna will suffer the most (Tariana Turia)

    Polar bears will die (thanks expat, you beat me to it) (Wussell)

    Huh, what? (David Shearer)

    Im sure kittens and angels will die because we are just talking about it. FFS, you know what, its about the education of our kids, lets have the bloody conversation, its time we as a country fucking grew up and started debating this stuff like grown ups.

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  4. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    Pity we can not afford to have a better quality of teachers, as well as smaller classes, especially at the primary level. More money spent at this level prepares students to learn in a more lecture type environment and teachers in college/high school can get on with teaching with larger classrooms and not having to crowd control a room full of hormonal teens.

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  5. Than (488 comments) says:

    @YesWeDid – 650 teachers, there are (according to Wikipedia) around 2,000 primary and secondary schools in NZ, so on average 1 school in 3 will lose a single teacher.

    That is minor.

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  6. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    As long as the teachers have been assessed, graded and ranked and the most uselss 650 get the sack, I am all for it.

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  7. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    I’m not keen on increasing class sizes, because it will decrease the time a teacher has to spend with each student. The more time a teacher spends with each student then it will likely to lift the performance of the student. Ok, folks my opinion here is nothing to do with pro or anti teacher unions. I’m just giving an opinion of what I believe to be best for our education system.

    This is my real world experience in coaching maths to a few select students of family & friends (both primary & high school). My observation may be anecdotal, but I’ve lifted the performance of kids for years now who had been doing very poorly at their respective schools, but they have improved since their parents have brought them to me . They can pick up difficult concepts in a reasonable amount of time, because I do have enough time to attend to each kid one on one during a 1 and 1/2 hour evening session.

    Some of form teachers of my students have asked their parents if their kids are attending the evening classes at any of the private education center’s such as Kip McGraph , because they have noted the dramatic improvement of their performance in maths at school. I believe that this difference of what schools have been trying to do – ie, lift the performance of my students and what I have done is largely the result of my spending more time with each kid during the regular evening coaching sessions. Sure, there may be other factors that contribute as well (like the methods I used are slightly different to what is being taught at school) but I think that spending more time with each student, one on one does help big time.

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  8. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    My last point about other factors as i stated in my previous message that can contribute to students performance is the difference in methods (one I use and the ones that schools are teaching). This is where the quality of a teacher comes in, exactly as the Minister of education is saying. So, quality teaching & performance counts.

    PS : Damn, I should be a teacher instead of being a software developer.

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  9. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    “…Ultimately performance pay can only work well if you delegate funding to school boards and allow principals flexibility in deciding pay rates. You might have a nationwide collective setting minimum salary levels, but the funding should be flexible enough so that the best teachers could be earning say double the worst….”

    You should save some electronic trees and just call this what it is: Bulk funding. Again.

    Bulk funding.
    An all out-attack on workers rights and a rolling back of the clock to the 1990’s in labour relations.
    Putting neo-lib ACToid crazies like Paula Rebstock in charge of welfare, failed ACT candidate Catherine Issacs in charge of education policy and ex-Treasury secretary and failed ACT candidate Graham Scott to ‘review” labour laws.

    ACT, ACT, ACT. The 1% indeed.

    The Key government is now a a fully fledged fruit loop neo-liberal experiment, as full of nut jobs as the failed Bolger-Shipley-Richardson economic and social train wreck of the 1990s. Given David Farrar was up to his eyeballs in that neo-liberal disaster, I am sure he thoroughly approves.

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  10. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    I’ve just looked at some old school photo’s, and my primary school classes generally had 25-30 kids in it. I’m sure many other who went through the school sysem in the early 70’s have similar recollections. It is possible to get a full and valid education in a class that size in New Zealand. I look at my son’s school photo’s and wonder where the rest of the kids are?

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  11. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    If larger classes make no difference to the learning outcomes of the pupils why are smaller classes such a selling point for private schools?

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  12. wreck1080 (3,958 comments) says:

    Increasing class size is absolutely crazy.

    The government ration of 1 teacher to 15 is wrong…my child has 35 for one class in primary school.

    The schools try to fudge it by getting special ed teachers to teach the intellectually disabled kid in the class, then say that meets the ratio — for a start , it still exceeds the ratio in my childs class.

    And, the extra teacher spends all their time with the IHC kid.

    So, you have 1 teacher for 34 kids.

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  13. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,917 comments) says:

    Oh dear, what a bastard. They might just find that better teachers are well able to handle larger classes. Maybe that’s what’s really behind all the squealing.

    Like an earlier commenter, when I was at school I recollect class size at primary and secondary well exceeded 30 and in many cases 35. Of course, we had real teachers in those days. Ones who could hold a class’s attention and actually TEACH.

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  14. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    BBC story out yesterday: “There is no clear link between performance pay for teachers and raising standards in schools”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18074402

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  15. Mark (1,489 comments) says:

    “DPF: Ultimately performance pay can only work well if you delegate funding to school boards and allow principals flexibility in deciding pay rates. You might have a nationwide collective setting minimum salary levels, but the funding should be flexible enough so that the best teachers could be earning say double the worst”.

    As a Chair of a school board and have severe reservations about how the government may see this working. BOT’s are generally comprised of well intentioned parents who often have little experience in staff or performance pay reviews. Are we now getting into an area for Board members that will significantly increase their responsibilities, that in many schools will go well beyond the capabilities and skill sets of the BOT members.

    In your scenario if the principal conducts the performance reviews of his staff who reviews the principals performance and pay? Under normal corporate governance there will be remuneration sub committee of the board overseeing performance pay and bonus allocations so do you see this working on a BOT? It has all the potential to be a festering disaster.

    What are the measures going to be. This government cannot even introduce a supposed national standard that is uniform and properly moderated.

    We do not have a perfect education system and I am all for measures being taken to try to improve it. But by any measure it is currently a world class system that ranks in the top 6 or 7 in the OECD a standard that few professions in NZ would measure up to. We all understand there is room for improvement. Are bigger class sizes and performance payments the answer? One thinks not.

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  16. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    @Adolf Fiinkensein – that’s me convinced then, slightlyrighty with his photos and you with your teachers who could TEACH, who needs things like evidence and analysis – shit, just ask you boys, you’ve got all the answers.

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  17. Joely Doe (31 comments) says:

    YesWeDid (662) Says:
    May 16th, 2012 at 11:55 am

    If larger classes make no difference to the learning outcomes of the pupils why are smaller classes such a selling point for private schools?

    Because the private schools have no qualms with ‘discouraging’ or ‘moving on’ the dropkicks from their school. These kids stay in the public system, to the educational detriment of every other kid around them. I have 3-4 dropkicks in one of my kids classes, who would be right at home in a Juvenile Detention Centre. The teacher would be happier too (if they were gone), as she could then teach a whole class to the utmost of her abilities. She freely admits that class size is not a problem if children are there to learn. Instead she spends her time dealing to delinquents.

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  18. tvb (4,501 comments) says:

    Children will die and be abused because of these changes and pupils will suffer. The teachers Unions use children to act as their shock troops to fight any change including changes they do not like.

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  19. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    Mark – I was a principal over a decade ago and it was the BOT’s job to do my performance review. Some schools bring in professionals who specialise in this. It was certainly no rubber stamp process. What have you been doing as board chair? Who appraises your principal?

    You would think this was a totally novel idea when in fact most workers are accustomed to annual reviews that affect their salaries – and often welcome the chance to show what they are capable of.

    As a parent I would much rather have my kid (at any level) in a big class with the best teacher than in a small class with mediocre one.

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  20. Nookin (3,462 comments) says:

    I think that the government is going to have a considerable problem in morphing its ideology into practice. I do not doubt that performance pay will provide a degree of incentive for good teaching practices. That is part and parcel of human nature. Equally, as many teachers have pointed out, their sense of professionalism will demand that they do the best job they can without the incentives.

    The fundamental problem is devising a system that can be seen as fair and which promotes better teaching practices.

    How will we define “good teaching practices”. Is there going to be a “one suit fits all” definition? Will it be up to individual boards to decide the criteria and weighting factors? For example, what weight do you put on exceptional ability to manage a disruptive classroom in a low decile school with limited resources and how do you compare the abilities of such a teacher with those of an excellent academic teacher in a high decile school with only 15-20 in the classroom (for example, a French teacher in year 13).

    Are all boards qualified and capable of implementing such a scheme? I have to say that I doubt it and the this could cause significant problems both internally and with external comparisons.

    I have chaired a board at the time of bulk funding. It worked well for the schools with which I was involved because they had a growing role with increasing entitlements and the system allowed us to inject additional funds into support staff and additional teaching personnel. Despite that, in the case of one school, the 2 principals with whom I worked had differing approaches and capabilities. With one, I would be gravely concerned about the principal’s ability to undertake an objective and appropriate assessment without playing favourites or engaging in recrimination. With the other, I would not have had the slightest hesitation.

    I believe that there would have to be some form of review process. That of itself might tend to undermine the principal’s relationship with the staff.

    Teachers are already reviewed on an annual basis but if it comes down to salaries (particularly the range of salaries contemplated on this thread), a much more disciplined and effective process will have to be devised. The board, as the employer, will be accountable and must be very careful that it is not seen as interfering in the management (including personnel management) responsibilities of the principal.

    I do not go along with the idea that some teachers can earn twice as much as others. There should be no room for that disparity of productivity in a school. One of the commenters referred to the “worst” teachers. If there are teachers who are worth half as much as a good teacher, they should not be teaching.

    As far as class sizes are concerned, it would be interesting to make an assessment of those ERO reports that comment that classroom practices tended to pitch to either the lowest level or the mid-level and not the top level. I suspect that there will be a considerable number. That suggests to me that, in larger classrooms, particularly where there is a range of abilities, size maybe problematic.

    Class sizes should be a guide and not a standard or prescription. If you have 35 students of commensurate abilities and commitment, the class size may not make any difference. On the other hand, you might have 15 disruptive children in a class, all of varying aptitudes, which makes for a major headache.

    A school should be able to look at its students and make a decision on the resources (including teaching resources) that it needs to throw at a particular group of students in order to achieve the best results.

    I think most people involved with schools realise that you can get a wonderful group of students one year and a bunch of rat bags the next. I am not sure that a fixed class size caters for that.

    My 2cents worth.

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  21. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,917 comments) says:

    YesWeDid @ 12.35

    Let’s have more of your evidence and analysis which is turning a quarter of the nation’s children into illiterates.

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  22. HB (328 comments) says:

    I agree with the moves to make new teacher trainees get the post grad qual to aim at improving teacher quality.

    Unfortunately I am doubtful about performance pay. I haven’t seen ANY quality evidence of this working in other comparable education systems where it improves student outcomes. It smacks of being ideology driven rather than evidence driven policy. I would rather some other country/state develop this first rather than our education system be a guinea pig. Lets see a system that actually works (improves student outcomes) first.

    I have to agree with Falafulu Fisi on the point about class sizes. Increase the class size and you decrease the one-on-one time that the teacher can spend with each student. Imagine a Year 9 student for example. They see their maths teacher for four hours a week max. This is if you don’t lose some of that time by the child being away sick, by one of the classes rotating off the timetable, sports days etc. Imagine if the $ were put into decreasing class sizes instead of increasing them!

    Maybe we could stop funding ‘private’ schools who boast of their small class sizes and teacher one-on-one time and put that money into state schools.

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  23. HB (328 comments) says:

    a quarter of our school-leavers are illiterate? What a load of crap!

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  24. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    its impossible to rank teachers by performance!

    we can do it with basically every other profession but not teaching.

    the children! the children! wont someone think of the children???

    bigger class sizes dont mean dick. class clowns and morons will get more than their share of the teachers time as usual.

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  25. HB (328 comments) says:

    where is the evidence?
    or are these policy changes driven by ideology?

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  26. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    only 17 mins til schools out. brace yourselves!

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  27. Mark (1,489 comments) says:

    BeaB – Mark – I was a principal over a decade ago and it was the BOT’s job to do my performance review. Some schools bring in professionals who specialise in this. It was certainly no rubber stamp process. What have you been doing as board chair? Who appraises your principal?

    You would think this was a totally novel idea when in fact most workers are accustomed to annual reviews that affect their salaries – and often welcome the chance to show what they are capable of.

    As a parent I would much rather have my kid (at any level) in a big class with the best teacher than in a small class with mediocre one.

    Yes we bring in a professional to undertake a review who reports to the Board on the principals performance which is paid for from the schools operating budget. But this is now where as simple as you are endeavouring to make out. By what standards are teachers measured. There has to be a system that provides a set of standards that are consistently applied across schools otherwise you may have a better teacher in school A being paid less a less able candidate in school B because there is a set of inconsistent criteria for measuring performance. .The ministry has demonstrated that it cannot even put in place a properly moderated set of national standards so it is hard to see how they will cope with consistent performance criteria for teachers.

    My experience with performance pay it is always works better where the measures are objective rather than subjective and there is an element of overall enterprise performance so that collaboration and working together for the greater good of the enterprise is also rewarded. I am going to be fascinated how this will be formulated so that it works smoothly from school to school.

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