‘Free riders’ in the system seen as threat by education expert who wants good teachers to be rewarded.

Some teachers need to get over their victim mentality and recognise the benefit of cutting their holiday time, a leading principal says.

Bali Haque is well known in education, having headed schools, a principals' association and as the former deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority.

In a hard-hitting book released this week, Mr Haque calls for changes in a number of areas, including better planning and evaluation of education reforms.

However, it is his comments on the teaching profession that are likely to be most controversial.

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Mr Haque stresses that most teachers do a great job and that socio-economic factors are most important when looking at the "tail" of student underachievement.

But he doesn't shy away from what he sees as problems within the profession. A big one is teachers he terms "free riders" - those he says refuse to work past 3.30pm, do nothing during their holidays and the very minimum required in class.

The collective agreement has provisions for incompetence - themselves often not acted upon - but not for the relatively few teachers who "hover in the only-just-competent area", Mr Haque says. In the book, Changing our Secondary Schools, he argues that under the current collective such "free riders" will be paid much the same as those who go above and beyond.

He says this should be addressed through a version of performance pay - not linked to one measure such as student achievement, but likely judged by the principal and possibly paid as an end-of-year bonus.

Mr Haque - a former executive member of the PPTA - also believes that teachers, through their unions, should look at reducing their holidays from 12 weeks to four or five.

The workload pressures that some teachers complain about are often self-inflicted, he says, and other professions work more flexibly to cope. Because most of the workload happens during the 38 weeks of term time, many teachers cope by working evenings and weekends, leading to stress.

Using some of the current holiday time to call all teachers in to school to carry out tasks such as planning meetings and professional development could go a long way to reducing the overall stress levels in most staffrooms, Mr Haque argues.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said the evidence was clear that the best way to help the small number of teachers who need it was through collaboration with peers and good professional development.

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Teachers already used their holidays to complete school work, but the reality was other agencies set the majority of deadlines in term time.

Leaders 'behaving badly'
Too many principals behave selfishly in the competitive climate set up by New Zealand's education system, the former president of the Secondary Principals' Association of NZ says.

Bali Haque counts his behaviour when in charge of Rosehill College as an example of principals "behaving badly". At the time, Papakura High School catered largely for low-decile students, with Rosehill catering more for the middle class. Rosehill's roll grew significantly between 1995 and 2002 when Mr Haque was in charge, which resulted in extra funding and new buildings.

However, it had a detrimental effect on Papakura High, whose students posed increasingly difficult social and education problems. Ultimately, he says, his school's growth cost the community.

Bali Haque
*A former principal of schools including Papakura's Rosehill College, he has been on the executive of the Post Primary Teachers' Association and was president of the Secondary Principals' Association.
*He was the deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority before taking up a three-year assignment leading the National College in Rarotonga, which he has recently
completed.