Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

$359m expert teacher policy 'epic failure' - Labour

Mr Hipkins said Ms Parata had learned nothing about working with teachers.
Mr Hipkins said Ms Parata had learned nothing about working with teachers.

The Government's $359 million expert teachers policy has proved to be the latest in a series of "epic failures" in the education sector due to a lack of consultation with teachers and Labour will soon announce a better model it says.

The Government policy which would see "expert" and "lead" teachers identified and paid extra to act as role models across several schools was slammed by primary teachers union the NZEI and the NZ Principals Federation after they met to discuss it this week.

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski said leaders from national and regional principal and teacher groups had sent a clear message that the policy, as it currently stood, was "unacceptable and unworkable" and "identified the lack of direct benefit for children in this policy".

School leaders were concerned the policy would remove highly rated teachers and principals from their schools for two days a week, which would impact on children's learning.

Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the fact that teachers and principals were willing to turn down pay rises of up to $40,000 a year "reflects how bad they believe this policy is".

"As the Principals Federation said today, the Government wouldn't develop health policy without assistance from medical professionals. Why are the people teaching our kids not given the same respect?

"If the Minister had worked with teachers and principals to develop this programme, the outcome may have been very different."

Mr Hipkins said Ms Parata had learned nothing about working with teachers.

"She has overseen epic failures including the class size debacle, the Christchurch schools mergers, charter schools and National Standards. And let's not forget Novopay."

A Labour Government would "almost certainly" dump the policy which Mr Hipkins described as a highly competitive performance pay based system. It would replace it with its own model for drawing on teacher expertise to improve educational outcomes which would be announced within the next two weeks.

But Ms Parata told National Radio this morning she and officials had been "working with exactly these unions and others since January, the working group report reflects that combined and collaborative work".

Publically available evidence dealing with the policy "including the working group report of which NZEI and NZPF were full members" showed the policy was "specifically about what we need to do in terms of children".

Responding to concerns the policy would removed valued teachers from their schools, she said: "Already we have principals and teachers working outside schools and across the system?we need to have it happening systematically not in an ad hoc fashion".

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