The President Speaks

This week a report came out on national standards results for Maths. 
 
It showed that a sample of 39 school teachers’ Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs) for Maths were considerably different from the OTJs that emerged by applying an on-line tool called the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT). 
 
PaCT has been under development for some years and is intended to make national standards results more reliable.
 
Our argument is that you cannot apply a tool to make national standards more reliable because the inherent flaws in national standards have never been resolved in the first place. Thus NZPF continues to hold the view that was agreed at the 2013 AGM that we will not support spending further money on the development of PaCT.
 
 
What international experts (some of whom are presenting at the 2015 NZPF conference) in both education and the global economy are saying is that the enlightened world is no longer interested in students’ standardised assessments in reading, writing and maths, a notion that belongs to the industrial era. They recognise that the OECD’s obsession with standardised measures such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which produces country-level league tables, has fuelled this movement. They also recognise that it has led to world-wide narrowing of the curriculum. Although New Zealand is a late comer to the movement, we can already see that our world-class New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) is being affected. Principals across the country understand that schools are preparing children for a twenty-first century workforce where the skills of creative thinking, questioning, critical analysis, problem solving, team work and entrepreneurship will be the most valued. These are not skills that can be evaluated by standardised measures.
 
In his latest book ‘Creative Schools – Revolutionising Education from the Ground Up’, world expert, Ken Robinson, calls for an end to what he describes as the outmoded industrial education system, dominated by standardised assessment. He proposes instead an organic, engaging approach that draws on both technological and professional resources so that children can learn to face twenty-first century challenges and become responsible global citizens. He calls for a revolution from within. With the NZC and working ‘from the ground up’ to empower children to take charge of their own learning, we too can accomplish these aspirational goals for our children. Many of you already are!
 
EDUCANZ
This week the members of the governing board for EDUCANZ were announced. In our submission on this legislation NZPF firmly objected to the undemocratic process chosen for selection. Although many hundreds of submissions made similar objections, the process remained unchanged in the final legislation.
 
The members that the Minister has now selected for appointment have a challenging job ahead if they are to embrace the aspirations of the profession and allow them to feel ownership of their Council. They too will need to take the lead from experts like Ken Robinson and recognise that revolution of the system is required if teachers are to prepare children to meet twenty-first century aspirations.
 
Congratulating the Honoured
Our warmest congratulations to all of our colleagues who were named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List this week.
 
Health & Safety
You will have noted that the controversial Health and Safety legislation has recently been sent back to select committee for more work. We were hoping by now to have greater clarity on the role of ‘worker’ and how it pertains to principals. We will continue to seek clarity on this issue through the Ministry but it is now likely to take longer than we had hoped.
 
Bullying Prevention and Sex Education
Two new documents will be landing on your desk shortly. Both are important. The first is an ‘Update on Bullying Prevention and Response’ and can be found here and the second is ‘A Guide for schools and Sexuality Education: Revised Guide’ which you can find here.
 
Inclusive Education
I recommend to you a very useful set of resources to support inclusive education which you can find here. This resource has an extensive array of tools to support the bullying prevention document, referred to above, but also provides resources on many other topics such as dyslexia.
 
National Calendar
This week we posted the National Calendar on our website (click on the calendar image on the right). Thanks to all the associations who responded with your events so that you can all check out what is coming up and try to avoid clashes with each other’s events.  Please email me with your 2016 dates so that we can also post them on the calendar.
 
Supporting Our Colleagues
Our thoughts go out to both the Taradale and Northcote school communities who have experienced tragic events this week. The principals of both schools are working hard to support their students, staff and parents. Kia Kaha.
 
These tragedies remind us of the importance of having robust crisis plans whilst at the same time having the resilience to absorb what can so often be completely unforeseen events. It is important that we look out for each other when such tragedies occur not just initially but in the days and weeks that follow. Where such events escalate to involve the media, remember NZPF can support you with website resources or you can contact our office directly on 04 471 2338.
 
No reira, noho ora mai ra
 
Denise Torrey
 

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