PPTA President

Image Angela Roberts PPTA president 2013-2014

News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.

(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)



A sticky wicket - cricket and education

New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) President Angela Roberts compares education to the game of cricket and concludes that in education we are failing to play as a team.

"And we are never going to play as a team while we continue to encourage competition and in-fighting in the belief that this will create better individual players and that will miraculously lift overall performance"

A sticky wicket

My family are cricket nuts. I have an uncle and a cousin who played for New Zealand (in the days when New Zealand used to win more frequently than they do now) and although I never played, I did inherit the family fascination for the ebbs and flows of the game.

Cricket as a metaphor for life and for education

More than any other sport, cricket is known as being a metaphor for life.  At one time or another we've all "gone into bat" for causes or have been "tossed the ball" to take up challenges only to be "forced onto the back foot." "stumped" or "knocked for six" .And on it goes until, hopefully, you're eulogised for having had "a good  innings".

Cricket offers  metaphors for education too. This government's policy in education has been to search for the "miracle ball" - the one that is completely unplayable and will get a wicket. The problem is that it's not called a miracle for nothing so constantly trying to dish one up instead of diligently, persistently and determinedly bowling with accuracy and consistency, results only in the ball being sprayed wastefully all over the park.

The challenge is to ensure all children benefit from their schooling

Charter schools are a prime example. They may well succeed for the relatively small number of students who benefit from the selective intakes, the improved funding, the smaller class sizes and the availability of extra coaching. But pockets of success, the miracle ball, is not what national
education systems are about. We are already able to deliver to most children. The 21st century challenge is how to ensure all children benefit fully from their schooling.

Everything we know about education tells us that changing a whole system requires steady, systematic and supported change with a capacity to reflect, review and modify where necessary.

Reducing inequality is the first goal to support academic success

As Pasi Sahlberg explained to PPTA's annual conference in October, Finland did not set out to become the top-ranked nation in the world for educational achievement. Its goal, for over 30 years, had  been to reduce inequality - academic success came as a by-product of that quest.

Looking north from New Zealand, the puzzle is how Finland has managed to find  politicians able to develop a strategy and let it run, and to resist the temptation to constantly change the goals and the rules.

It's hard to argue with the Finns' success but there are New Zealanders who reject the lesson. They variously try to attribute the achievement to some extraneous factor - the cold weather is a very popular explanation. More sophisticated is the claim that Finland is successful because it has a less diverse student population than us. In which case we need to know which aspects of Finnish policies won't work for Māori and Pasifika learners. The high entry standards for teacher education? The extensive provision of professional development? The welfare services (food, health care, counselling) provided at schools? The provision of well-resourced, local schools?

Research evidence , teaching experience and common sense say that these policies will make the difference.


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