Opinion: Choices are difficult for parents

Add a comment
Don Robertson is chairman of Kamo Intermediate School and acting chairman of Glenbervie School. Photo / File
Don Robertson is chairman of Kamo Intermediate School and acting chairman of Glenbervie School. Photo / File

When I went to school, we were caned and strapped and learned times table by rote.

If you're my age, you probably still have to work through a few to get the right answer to some of the tricky ones! But as a parent, the choices are much more difficult. How do you tell if the school you are sending your child to is a good school? Back in the day, School Certificate, University Entrance and Bursary exam results were published in the newspaper and my parents could tell which school got the best results. Not anymore. As I understand it, the recent introduction of National Standards attempts to address this.

Unfortunately, the National Standards are flawed and impeded in their intended purpose. I believe part of the purpose is to provide assurance to parents that the school their child attends is getting the results that the Government education policy intends.

There are two things that prevent this from happening, Overall Teacher Judgment (OTJ) and inconsistent assessment tools. OTJ means that despite the results achieved by a student the teacher can use Overall Judgment to modify the recorded result for a student, open to obvious abuse and variable between teachers, schools and communities of schools, even with the best moderation intentions.

Inconsistent assessment tools contribute to this problem. There is a plethora of assessment tools for reading, literacy, maths or any other subject in the curriculum with no requirement for consistency between schools. How can you be sure that the results achieved are comparable across schools or communities? Currently you can't.

To address this, the Government has released a new policy, Investing in Educational Success (IES). This is a $350 million investment that has the intention of creating communities of schools clusters which are supported by (curriculum) led teachers managed by executive principals, across schools and further lead teachers within schools. This is coupled with some core assessment tools which will see geographically related schools able to provide consistent assessment and able to be compared with other communities of schools.

From a parents' viewpoint, you will be able to compare your child's educational pathway choices before making enrolment decisions.


In essence, I believe that the direction set out in the IES policy is good and will raise the standard and provide better assurance. I think that the practicalities could be better thought out and implementation made smoother. I look forward to working in this space.

Is it a good thing from an educational perspective? Possibly in terms of consistent practice and support for teacher professional development and support for the pedagogy as a whole.

Will it achieve its intended result? Probably not in its current format because the positions being created are not extra positions.

The Executive Principal and Lead Teacher positions are made attractive by the addition of 40 or 50 per cent extra salary but will require those taking up the positions to work out of the school or class two or three days a week. Obviously for this extra pay the best and brightest will be chosen.

As a board of trustees who have worked hard to establish and appoint a great leader and manager to the principal's position and spent effort and cash to appoint and grow great teachers in our school, would we be the slightest bit interested in allowing this team and their contribution to be diluted by spreading the love?

Make the positions new additional positions and provide longer lead-in time to address the gaps created.

Teachers who believe that they are innovative and that this creativity will be crushed by having to comply with lower standards or more traditional methods or who think that the funding will be too tight to allow for sufficient resources to enable innovation, need to read the working party report and the policy completely.

There is a teacher-led innovation fund that will fund innovation in classroom teaching and provide resource for this - make your application as soon as this opens.

In essence, I believe that the direction set out in the IES policy is good and will raise the standard and provide better assurance. I think that the practicalities could be better thought out and implementation made smoother. I look forward to working in this space.


Don Robertson is chairman of Kamo Intermediate School and acting chairman of Glenbervie School.

- Northern Advocate

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 29 Dec 2014 12:20:20 Processing Time: 371ms