Comment

Patrick Walsh

A principal holds the privileged position of being the CEO of a school which includes among many things reflecting the high expectations of the board and community of its teachers.

In my case which is standard practice across the secondary school sector, I expect teachers will:

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  • • Plan in detail all their lessons, collect relevant resources and carry out all assessments in a timely manner.
    • • Ensure their teaching material and assessments are personalised to each student in their class irrespective of class size. I Know they have five hours a week in their timetable to do all this but in reality, I also know it will require at least another five at home.
      • • Take an extracurricular activity which will rob them of their evenings, weekends and holidays.
        • • Give up some of their morning teas and lunch times to supervise students.
          • • Come in during their holidays for professional development.
            • • Manage some students who have severe behavioural and learning problems in a sympathetic and professional manner but with limited resources.
              • • Attend prizegivings, parent-teacher interviews, and open nights in the evenings.
                • • attend school camps and be away from their families for a week as well as set work for their classes while they are away.
                  • • Juggle teaching while dealing with cyberbullying, family conflict and hungry kids.

                    The above list is certainly not exhaustive and I am eternally grateful that despite
                    these very significant demands teachers remain student focused and go the extra
                    mile.

                    The time has come however where teacher goodwill is exhausted. If we continue to
                    ramp up the expectations of our teaching workforce in New Zealand, which is 'world
                    class', we have a moral and educational imperative to support them in this bargaining round.

                    The salary and working conditions of secondary teachers are manifestly inadequate as evidenced by the drought of those wanting to join the profession and the stampede of teachers leaving it.

                    This bargaining round will be a watershed for secondary education.

                    If there is not a very significant correction to the pay and conditions of secondary teachers it will put at real risk the capacity of New Zealand to remain a first world economy.

                    Principals like myself have no issue in clearly setting the board's and school
                    communities high expectations of teachers.

                    We also, however, have high expectations that the Government of the day will suitably
                    pay and create working conditions to allow our teachers to continue to provide a world-class education to our tamariki.

                    - Patrick Walsh is the principal John Paul College and is the former President of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand.

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