Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teachers, class sizes and quality

I wrote this for our families- thought it was worth sharing

Dear families

The purpose for my writing today was to have been to implore you to contact the Minister of Education regarding the proposed cuts to staffing. Thankfully the Government has realized that the proposal was not in the best interests of our children and was not supported by the majority of New Zealanders. It is very pleasing to see that this flawed proposal has been 'reversed'.

There has been a constant message that New Zealand needs to improve the quality of teachers if we want better outcomes for our children. At Windsor we have an ongoing focus on quality teaching. I am pleased to advise that a recent report that I provided to the Board of Trustees showed that we have:-

  • ·      Very high standards of teaching at Windsor School

  • ·      Robust procedures in place to ensure that quality teaching is the norm

  • ·      Extremely high quality professional learning (both internally and externally) to ensure our staff have access to the best practice

  • ·      Strong systems to support teachers who have a specific need

  • ·      A clear and transparent appraisal system to ensure that all staff are aware of their strengths as well as needs

Windsor School has high quality teachers, New Zealand has internationally respected teachers. We rank 5th in the OECD for Educational outcomes! Our aim is higher but we are not a failing profession nor is quality teaching an issue for most New Zealand Schools. 
My hope for the future is that we as a nation might address the major contributing factors to under achievement namely poverty, generational unemployment, domestic violence, child abuse, parental supported truancy, illiterate parents, alcohol and drugs. These issues more than any other factor contribute to the 20% of children (although this figure is reducing) who do not achieve success in schools.

New Zealand teachers work long hours  (most at Windsor work in excess of 50 hours every week) give of their own resources (money, food, clothing) and are constantly reflecting on their practice to see how they might do it better. Most Windsor teachers work in their holidays preparing for the next term (probably better to call it 'non contact time").
Teachers have been taking unwarranted ongoing battering from politicians and the media.
Our teachers are awesome, they do a world class job (despite the fact that funding and pay rates are less the average in the OECD) and they deserve our support, respect and recognition.

Lets hope that the decision that was made this week by the Minister of Education is a step in the right direction for our teachers and your children.