Teachers and Govt need to work together

Who really knows about education?

Principals, teachers and schools up and down the country voiced their outrage, shock and disappointment at the cuts announced in the budget on Thursday 24th May.

The Government decision to cut specialist teacher funding throughout the intermediate school has been labelled numerous things. Ross Leach principal of Dunedin North Intermediate referred to the changes as a "savage attack".

Whilst Andrew Hunter of Balmacewen Intermediate School described the cuts as "devastating" to intermediate schools and all students involved.

Hekia Parata the Minister of Education initially defended the cuts saying that that on average schools would lose or gain one teacher each. On Friday she stated that, "It is the school's themselves that decide how they are going to use that money to deliver the curriculum and raise student achievement."

However by Monday both Parata and Key were back tracking. John Key conceded that some schools would lose too many teachers under the plan. 

He admitted changes buried in the Budget that will see specialist funding for the likes of woodwork, metalwork and cooking teachers axed go too far.

On Tuesday afternoon Parata released a press statement saying no school will lose more than two full-time teachers as a result of the policy changes in Budget 2012.

So the question is who really knows about education?

Who's advising our government to make such uninformed and potentially damaging changes to our educational system? And how could have they possibly gotten it so wrong?

Parata states that, "We are opting for quality, not quantity, better teaching, not more teachers."

With the current goal of raising student achievement, the last we need is to axe specialist teachers' funding. Surely what we really need is both quality and quantity. Not one or the other.

In the press release Parata also stated that, "It is also not the intention of the policy to undermine the specialist technology provision at Levels 7 and 8."

However I spoke with Mary Brady, Head of the Technology Team at Balmacewen Intermediate School.

"Whether it was the intention of the policy to undermine the specialist technology provision or not, the fact remains this is indeed the outcome.

"How can we not be undermined when half of our team will be cut? We are skilled passionate teachers who make a difference to the education of our children."

Maybe the people who know education best, are the ones who work there every day.

In order for us to keep growing in education in New Zealand, both the teachers and the government need to work together. Surely they both want the same thing; the best for our kids.

- Savannah Brady, Year 13, Logan Park High School