PPTA News PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers.

Link to PPTA webpage PPTA News archive

Approximately 18,000 copies of PPTA News are distributed free to secondary and area schools and other institutions.

Not all the opinions expressed within PPTA News reflect those of the PPTA.

Enquiries should be addressed to: The Editor, PPTA News, PO Box 2119, Wellington, New Zealand. Phone: 04 3849964; Fax: 04 3828763; Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The transformation of schools into businesses

The transformation of schools into businesses University of Nottingham education professor Howard Stevenson shares the horror story of bulk funding in UK schools.

Learning lessons from England

HowardStevensonThe English public education system stands on the brink of becoming a privatised, for-profit system in which students, teachers and schools all find themselves competing against each other.

Approximately 60% of the country’s secondary schools are ‘academies’ – similar to New Zealand’s charter schools. The proportion of primary schools is much lower but the government is committed to all schools becoming academies by 2020.

These schools are no longer part of local government control (and therefore subject to democratic community accountability) but are run by ‘academy chains’ and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs).

Many of these organisations have links to the private sector, and some represent the ‘public sector’ face of what are already global for-profit edu-businesses.

Although, technically, it is currently not possible to be ‘for profit’ in the English public system, key services in schools are increasingly contracted out to for-profit providers. Allowing for-profit providers formally into the system is probably one general election away.

England’s ‘reform’ agenda places it in the vanguard of the so-called ‘global education reform movement’ (GERM) and students and teachers are paying the price.

Where did it all go wrong?

To understand how English education policy got to this point it is important to take a historical perspective and see a number of sometimes small, but incremental, changes that have, over time, eroded the public service ethos of English education.

The obvious starting point was in 1988 when the Education Reform Act Bulk Funding Learning lessons from England introduced a set of linked measures that began the process of ‘school markertisation’, made possible by testing, league tables and so-called parent- choice policies.

Perhaps most significant at the time, but not always appreciated, was the introduction of Local Management of Schools (LMS) in which budget allocations to schools were based on pupil numbers and budgets were decentralised en bloc to schools (governing bodies and principals).

This was the point at which schools started to become, and act like, businesses in a market and the divide between principals and teachers began to open up.

At roughly the same time, New Zealand was adopting similar policies (Tomorrow’s Schools in 1989). Since then New Zealand has avoided many of the worst excesses of what we have witnessed in England, although it is clear vigilance is still required and now more necessary than ever.

Devolved budgeting – what’s the problem?

The argument for devolving budgets to school level was simple and superficially attractive – surely decisions about resource allocation should be taken closest to the point where those decisions will have impact?

We should not be embarrassed to be concerned about efficiency and increased efficiency should lead to increased effectiveness. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is that LMS (as was, but now ‘reformed’ numerous times) has acted as a Trojan Horse for the real motives under-pinning reforms – transforming the school system into one that first behaves like a private market, before eventually morphing into a fully-fledged private market in which public funds prop up a multimillion pound business ‘opportunity’.

Meanwhile students and teachers in England live with the consequences. Devolved budgeting has set school against school in a competitive market. Governments walk away from funding problems as schools fight between themselves for scarce resources.

At the same time school leaders are transformed into business leaders (a new ‘them and us’ emerges), spending more time negotiating business contracts that improving teaching and learning.

In order to assist them an army of ‘school business managers’ are recruited (often for their business ‘knowhow’) so that, paradoxically, rather than increase efficiency a new raft of bureaucracy is created in every school.

Inevitably, school leaders look for every opportunity to make savings where they can – replacing older teachers with (cheaper) younger teachers, employing unqualified staff and using teaching assistants to cover teaching roles are all now a feature of the English school system.

It is important to note that teachers in England have not had collective bargaining since 1987, national pay arrangements have been completely eroded and academy schools set their own pay and conditions.

The whole system is based on merit pay, often linked to student test scores. It starts with devolved budgets – this is where it ends.


PPTA News September 2016

The September 2016 issue of PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers.

PPTA News v.37 (6) September 2016

Table of contents:

Somebody is thinking of the children - President's viewpoint p.3;
A chance for children (He Huarahi Tamariki) p.4;
Corssing cultural barriers through movement (Louise Fielder) p.6;
Examining the teacher laptop scheme (TELA) p.7;
Integrated curriculum vs subject silos (Gerard MacManus and Lawrence Mikkelsen) p.8;
What are you like at bass guitar (Dave Armstrong on teacher registration) p.9;
Too many tasks for too few people (PPTA workload taskforce) p.10;
The transformation of schools into businesses (Bulk funding) p.12;
Cultivating culture - PPTA pasifika fono) p.14;
Pathways for Maori success (PPTA Maori Teachers' Conference) p.16;
Te Wiki o te reo Maori every day (Cecelia Pakinga) p.17;
Involving everyone in Health and Safety p.18;
Consultation on management units essential (Field Officer advice) p.19.

pptanew coverSept2016sm

icon PPTA News September 2016 (volume 37 no.6) (2.56 MB)

The Global Budget - bulk funding by another name

Bulk funding: trading teachers for cash.

The Ministry of Education is seeking the sector’s feedback on seven proposals for changes to school funding.

One of these, The “Global Budget” would remove the split between funding for staffing (which covers salaries for a set number of full time teacher equivalents) and cash for operations. The Global Budget means the most important asset of a school, the teaching staff, would have to be ‘traded off’ against other costs that schools face. Instead of the government guaranteeing a minimum number of teaching staff to each school, each year the board will decide how many teachers it would employ. This is the essential element of bulk funding,which teachers and communities rejected in the 1990s. 


PPTA News July / August 2016

The July / August 2016 issue of PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers.

PPTA News v.37 (5) July/August 2016

icon PPTA News July / August 2016 (volume 37 no. 5) (2.38 MB)

Table of contents:

Braving the storm - President's viewpoint p.3;
Treaty partners at co-governed school (Nga Puna O Waiorea, Western Springs College) p.4;
The Global Budget - bulk funding by another name p.6;
The power of collective strength (interview with outgoing deputy general secretary Bronwyn Cross) p.7;
A coming together with Shakespeare p.8;
Culture support needed for isolated schools (Shakespeare Global Centre NZ) p.9;
Technology in the classroom (Debate) p.10;
Support for student teachers at summit p.11;
Postcards and perserverance for paid parental leave p.12;
Celebrating Pink Shirt Day p.12;
3 fascinating reasons teachers need to have a growth midset too! (Guest blog) p.13;
Are you getting paid correctly for your qualification (Field Officer advice) p.14.
Health and safety research for older teachers (Stuart King) p.14.
Chalkdust: A look into PPTA's past (bulk funding battles of the 1990s) p.15.


PPTA News June 2016

The June 2016 issue of PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers.

PPTA News v.37 (4) June 2016

pptanews coverJune2016smTable of contents:

Pragmatic problem-solver will be missed - President's viewpoint p.3;
Academic mentoring at Lytton High School p.4;
Kaiapoi High School traffic issues p.6;
Should New Zealand history be compulsory (Debate) p.7;
Familiar faces, new roles (PPTA's new deputy general secretary and junior vice president) p.8;
Marking Matariki (Celebrating Maori New Year in schools) p.9;
Much needed support for special needs coordinators (TRCC) p.10;
Pasifika fono p.11;
Industrial update p.10;
Education and citizenship - a debate we must have (Guest blog) p.13;
Media review - Try Revolution p.14;
Letter - Marlborough college co-location - the girls' school's point of view p.14.
What's the deal with being fixed term? (Field Officer advice) p.15.


PPTA News May 2016

pptanews-may2016-cover100The May 2016 issue of PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers

PPTA News v.37 (3) May 2016 

Table of contents:

Systematic betrayal - President's viewpoint p.3;
Paid parental leave p.4;
PPTA helps students in Thai border region p.4;
PPTA opposes call t deny principals voting rights p.5;
Members encouraged to respond to ministry's census p.5;
Guidance counsellors key to positive outcomes p.6;
NZ unions represented at UN Commission on the Status of Women p.7;
Asia-Pasific activism p.8;
How best to dress for success? (student uniforms) p.9;
PPTA presents "safer schools" workshop at humanrights conference p.10;
A week-long look at bullying p.11;
Plan for Blenheim colleges doesn't add up p.12;
Letter - I am most seriously displeased ... with the TELA laptop scheme p.13;
When leave without pay (LWOP) affects holiday pay (Field Officers Advice) p.14.


Children's Action Plan: Buzzwords and flimsy research mar process

Concerns over bad management, poor process and unrealistic expectations have led PPTA to pull out of two independent advisory groups on the government's plan to identify and protect vulnerable children.
classroom blurred grey blue
If the Children's Action Plan continues the way it is going everyone in a school, from the receptionist to the principal, will have 44 pages of unrealistic standards thrust between them and vulnerable students.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said the association had taken part in consultation on the plan as an independent voice, but had lost confidence in the process.

PPTA joined the Framework Design Team, which was the product of the Identifying and Protecting Vulnerable Children paper released by government a couple of years ago. The team was charged with identifying core competencies for people who work with children in the public sector.

PPTA reluctantly withdrew citing a serious lack of confidence in the process and its outcomes for vulnerable children.

Unrealistic standards would lead to more paperwork and less time for staff to respond to the needs of vulnerable children, she said.


PPTA News April 2016

The April 2016 issue of PPTA News: the magazine of New Zealand secondary teachers


PPTA News v.37 (2) April 2016


icon PPTA News April 2016 (volume 37 no.2) (2.16 MB)


Table of contents:

Let's try learner-centred PLD for teachers - President's viewpoint p.3;
Reward for long hours of toil (Guy Allan Branch Activism Award presented to Claire Couch) p.4;
"Constancy and absolute belief" contribute to regional service award (PPTA service award - Radne Adern) p.4;
Obituary: Gay Simpkin 1942 - 2016 p.5;
Members encouraged to respond to ministry's census p.5;
Pasifika women unionists visit NZ to extend focus (Council of Pacific Education) p.6;
Region building momentum (East Coast) p.7;
JVP by-election: Candidates' personal statements p.8;
Members "buzzing" after activists workshops (Issues and Organising seminar) p.10;
Better provision for due diligence (Health and Safety) p.11; (icon Better provision for due diligence: Health and Safety at Work Act pdf)
Cutting edge or chaos? Modern learning environments (debate Michael Tarry and Chris Abercrombie) p.12;
Future focus too caught up in tech - Michael Harvey p.13;
When "form-time" becomes contact time  (Field Officer advice) p.14;
Letter - Knocking teachers for no good reason affects our mental health p.14.