Local teacher gets top job

By Erika Venter

The presidency of the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA), representing intermediate and high school teachers across New Zealand, will be filled by a Stratford teacher from February next year.

Stratford High School head of arts Angela Roberts, 43, says to her knowledge she is the youngest to ever have taken the top chair, but she is no stranger to breaking ground.

"For a few years I was the youngest on the executive. When I took maternity leave it was a first and we discovered that you cannot be on the executive when on maternity - you could when on leave of absence, but not maternity leave. So I worked on a constitutional paper and got it changed."

She joined the association when appointed to her first teaching post, at Opunake High School in 1997, from where she moved to Stratford. There she took on the role to represent Taranaki on the national executive. This academic year she was elected junior vice-president and last month was elected as president, to serve in the role from February.

"With the junior vice-presidency I had to step it up: education has become a very hot topic. For me, it was a baptism of fire," she says, naming one issue: class size.

Angela is excited about the opportunity to further represent the body overseas and nationally and to lead policy within the organisation and in Wellington.

"I am enough of an idealist to never give up, but also enough of a realist to not get down when ideology rather than proven best practice wins out."

She says the government's current path is leading education down a dangerous road.

"They are making policy in isolation.

"It is not so much about more money as better targeting our resources.

She says the association is about fair wages and working conditions, but for her it is also a professional body where she can have a voice.

She foresees some of the issues on the table next year to be "the constant seeking to cut funding", standardisation of performance and league tables.

"Nobody is scared of accountability, but it is the way they are doing it."

She says some of the shifting goal posts are ambiguous.

"On the one hand they say they are going to lift post-graduation qualifications, but then they are pushing charter schools that would not need to appoint qualified teachers. There is no crises in education. Sure, we can improve, we are up to it, but work with us and look at the evidence.

"It is going to be an interesting year."

She will be moving to Wellington for the year with partner Ian Anglesey, a WITT technology teacher in Stratford, and children James (8) and Sarah (3), taking a leave of absence from Stratford High School.

But, she says returning to Stratford is strong on her agenda.

"I will miss the students too much. They ground me.

"I see this as a huge opportunity ... to have input into saving our education system - if I could enable someone to stand up for what is best for our schools and our communities, that would be fantastic."

- Stratford Press

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