There has been a deliberate misinformation campaign about the proposed Investing in Educational Success (IES) which calls for some straight-talking.
1. Get with the programme
The cabinet paper (January 23rd 2014) that talked about “executive” principals and “expert” teachers and performance pay has gone the way of dial-up and leg-warmers. PPTA has been bargaining with the ministry to turn the initial offer into something that will work in schools. The primary aim of a union is negotiate better deals for its members.
2. What's so wrong with collaboration?
Everyone acknowledges that the competition fuelled by Tomorrow’s Schools is bad for schools, bad for kids and bad for teachers but when there’s a chance to do something about it, we get patch protection. Up and down the country, schools have been trying to work together to improve things for their students – now they will get some funding and staffing to support their co-operative activities. Those who don’t want to be in a community don’t have to – though they will not receive any of the community resources. And those who don't want to apply for any of the positions don't have to. Collaboration can't be mandated.
3. There’s no such thing as a super principal
See 1 above. The people continuing to use terms like this haven’t kept up. The new role is called community of schools leadership role and the task is to facilitate the effective functioning of the community. Each school remains autonomous within the community. There will be no bogey, “super principal” coming into schools and bossing other principals around – the role might even be filled by a local DP, a recently retired principal or it might be job-shared.
4. They’re regular roles with regular pay plus an allowance. No performance pay
The new IES roles are just like those of specialist classroom teachers or HoD positions. They are roles with specific functions, with money, time and PLD attached and job descriptions that require the holder to work to share their best practice with their colleagues, within schools and with other schools in the community. There will be a transparent advertising process (the law requires it) and appointment on merit. Some of the roles will be fixed-term and members have signalled they don’t mind that because it means more people can get experience in the job. It also allows the community of schools to re-appoint if its priorities change. And all these people will be regular classroom teachers working with their colleagues to share their expertise.
5. Variation and voting
This is a proposal from the employer between collective agreement rounds, technically known as a variation. PPTA averages about one a year and they always follow the same process. The PPTA advocates get to work with the ministry and NZSTA to shape the proposal into something that they believe will work for secondary schools and teachers, and then members vote to either accept it or reject it. There are almost no circumstances when we would go straight to members with a completely unformed, employer proposal without first negotiating the detail so members can vote from an informed perspective.
Presently, we are a long way from a variation. All we have so far is an interim agreement on some key elements because there are working parties around such things as appointments, professional standards and community of school operations that have yet to report. We anticipate that the full variation will be ready for voting early in term 4 which is a helpful timeline given the possible impact of the election.
6. PPTA is a union of professionals
IES is a political initiative because it comes from the party that is in government and because it's election year but its aims are entirely consistent with PPTA professional policy around such things as:
- collaboration between schools
- openness and the sharing of expertise
- career paths - especially for new and beginning teachers.