An education leadership specialist at the University of
Otago has labelled the Government's latest pupil achievement
improvement initiative, ''a winner''.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced the Government
would spend an extra $359 million over the next four years to
lift the achievement of pupils at New Zealand schools, by
recognising excellent teachers and principals, keeping good
teachers in the classroom, and sharing expertise across
schools for the benefit of children.
He said four new roles would be introduced to schools from
the beginning of 2015 - executive principal, expert teacher,
lead teacher and change principal.
The proposed changes draw together the best of New Zealand
and the best of overseas experience, he said.
Educational leadership and administration senior lecturer
Darrell Latham, of the University of Otago College of
Education, praised the initiative.
''This really is a good news story and, in my view, is an
excellent initiative which I am sure will be greeted
positively by those in the education sector.
''The initiative has been talked about for many years and it
is exciting that it is finally seeing the light of day - even
if it is in an election year.''
He said research showed one of the most important factors in
a child's educational success was the quality of the teacher.
By instituting the new roles, he said the Government was
''backing a winner''.
''The opportunity for our top teachers to be recognised as
expert and lead teachers provides not only the opportunity
for these teachers to demonstrate and influence the best
classroom practice to a wider audience of teachers, it also
allows them to advance their careers by remaining as teachers
in the classroom, rather than the traditional administrative
role career progression.''
He said the concept of executive and change principals would
mean New Zealand's very best performing principals would be
used to a greater extent across districts, as well as
''Again, there is an extremely strong link between school
leadership and improved student achievement,'' he said.
''School leadership is regarded as second only to classroom
instruction among school-related factors that affect student
learning in schools.
''Where we have high performing principals, then we need to
share their expertise widely.
Dr Latham said over the past few years, the Government had
implemented many ''spurious'' educational initiatives which
were not supported by research evidence.
However, the concept of establishing specialist teaching and
leadership roles was supported by the research evidence and
was in his view, welcomed.
While Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Mason
Stretch was also delighted with the announcement, he was
concerned about a lack of focus on professional development
He said any extra investment in education was ''a really
positive move'' and he believed increasing collaboration and
using expertise within the sector would help schools in need.
''I think the initiative is worth trialling, but quality
professional development and funding for learning support
also makes a difference,'' he said.
''These initiatives don't appear to directly support
developments in our school [Cromwell College].
''A boost to operational funding too, would allow us to
target resourcing and staffing at improving our students'
Former King's High School rector and education consultant Ian
Simpson said the initiative was quite revolutionary, and
school principals were bound to be cautious about it.
''We've not really had any change in management structure for
a long time.
''I can imagine there being some anxiety about it out there,
but it [the initiative] deserves a good look at.''
Mr Simpson said the system appeared to hark back to the days
before Tomorrow's Schools, when groups of inspectors would
visit schools, observe teachers in their classrooms, and then
share ways of improving their teaching techniques.
''That was one of the sad losses from the old system.''
Mr Key said the Government would now work with the sector
unions and other key groups over the next few months to
further develop and complete details of the new approach.
The cost of the initiative would build up over the next four
years, he said.
It was expected to have a relatively small cost in the first
year, rising to an annual cost of more than $150 million,
once fully implemented.
Labour leader David Cunliffe said Mr Key's speech and policy
announcement was ''underwhelming'' but Labour would not
necessarily discard the teacher incentives system if it
gained the government benches.
He said Labour's new education policy also included financial
incentives for good teachers and the party would assess
whether elements of National's policy would be retained as
part of that.
He expected to release that policy in ''coming months'' and
said it would be far broader in scope than that announced by
Mr Key yesterday, including measures to try to address
inequality and poverty.
Role: To provide leadership and mentoring to other
Term: Two days a week; two-year fixed term
Pay: Additional $40,000/year plus backfill funding for
Role: To work with teachers in other schools, help
lift teaching practice and improve pupil achievement.
Term: Two days a week; two-year fixed term
Pay: Additional $20,000/year plus backfill funding for
Role: To open their classrooms for other teachers to
observe and learn from their practice.
Pay: Additional $10,000/year.
Role: To lift achievement in schools that are
Term: Fixed term (3-5 years)
Pay: Additional $50,000/year.