• 2014

New education roles - enough to inspire pupils and raise achievement?

Time and time again, we hear productive people at the top of their game talk about the impact great teachers and a strong education have had on their success. In this year’s State of the Nation address, John Key said the education he received opened up the world to him. He then went on to announce four new leadership roles for the education sector: Executive Principals, Change Principals, Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

These new positions are intended to strengthen both the teaching profession and leadership within schools. Improving the quality of these two things is important not only for the sake of our children, but also because these children will drive the future productivity of our country.

However will these new leadership roles, and the extra $359 million the Government will spend over the next four years to fund these roles, result in a higher achieving, more productive generation?

The current system doesn’t accurately reward teachers and recent studies have shown our students are falling behind other countries, especially in maths and science. 

Something needs to be done to turn this around, and quickly. We need a solution that will increase the overall quality and inspiration levels of our students.

For this to happen we need to retain the best teachers. Providing funding in the budget for salary incentives for the 6000 new teacher roles is an obvious first step but will the pay incentives that go alongside these new, more management focussed positions offset the added workload that comes with them? Or will these teachers simply be placed under even more workload pressures and result in them having less of a focus and impact in the classroom?

The Minister of Education Hekia Parata has been under the spotlight this month regarding her comments around performance pay needing to be “consistent and rigorous”. Without the disclosure of how this would be measured, it’s unlikely to be supported. If performance based pay, together with these new roles, are in place, the metrics for teacher performance would need to be fair and equitable – and this is likely to prove difficult as how do you create a one size fits all approach across a profession that is so diverse?

Ludger Woessmann of Kiel Institute of World Economics noted in 2001 that spending more money within an institutional system that sets poor incentives will not improve student performance. He concluded that an institutional system in which all people involved have an incentive to improve student performance is the only alternative that promises positive effects. Perhaps the Government should be considering finding alternative ways to incentivise all teachers – no matter what their title?

Decreasing class sizes would also be a step in the right direction. Children thrive when they have more one-on-one time with teachers. If teachers are spread too thin, their ability to inspire pupils is sure to be distilled and watered down. Focussed teachers who have enough time and energy to inspire students is critical to ensuring the next generation is full of New Zealanders who are at the top of their game.

Hopefully we will see some further measures to address these issues in the upcoming Budget, measures that will do more than just add layers of management to the teaching profession.

Clearly education will continue to be a focus right up to the election – and employers of the future generation should keep a close eye on this.

New educations roles

250 Executive Principals Principals that have a proven track record in raising achievement. They will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals. They will remain in charge of their own school but be released for two days a week to work across a grouping of schools. They will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary.
1000 Expert Teachers Again, these teachers will be released for two days a week to work across a school grouping, under the guidance of an Executive Principal. They will work alongside other teachers to develop and improve classroom practices. They will be paid an annual allowance of $20,000 on top of their usual salary
5,000 Lead Teachers High-performing teachers who can demonstrate the best classroom practice. Their classrooms will be open to other teachers almost all the time, so teachers can observe and discuss classroom practice with a model professional. They will be paid an annual allowance of $10,000 on top of their existing salary.
20 Change Principals (per year for up to 5 years) Top principals who are paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.

Further enquiries, please contact:

Vanessa Black
Grant Thornton New Zealand Associate, Audit
T +64 (0)9 308 2985
E vanessa.black@nz.gt.com