The Secondary Schools’ Staffing Group (SSSG) was established as part of the Terms of Settlement for the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement 2011-2013. Both parties to the collective agreement negotiations, the Post Primary Teachers’ Association and the Ministry of Education, agreed that more work was desirable between the two parties with respect to class size.
The SSSG comprised representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Post Primary Teachers’ Association, New Zealand School Trustees Association, the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Secondary Principals' Council.
As a group, we investigated baseline data on class size and timetabling practice in New Zealand secondary schools, undertook a review of the current research on class size, and undertook a survey and sample case studies with a selection of secondary schools.
The resulting Report of the Secondary Schools’ Staffing Group sets out our main findings and recommendations to the Secretary for Education. It also sets out each member group’s position on class size issues.
The parties found this to be a positive process and anticipate that they will engage further on these matters in the future.
The parties to the Secondary Schools’ Staffing Group made the following recommendations:
i. The parties noted the impact the current funding formula appears to be having on some schools, and recommended that:
a) The delivery mechanism (formula) is reviewed in relation to larger schools, and that the review seeks to neutralise the disproportionate effect of the formula on these larger schools.
b) The delivery mechanism (formula) is reviewed in relation to junior high schools, and that the review seeks to neutralise the disproportionate effect of the formula on these schools.
ii. The parties noted the possible conclusion that the current staffing allocation model is potentially not the right fit for 21st century student/school needs, given it comes from a perspective of limitation of liability rather than a needs-based focus. The New Zealand School Trustees Association believes that this is something that should be part of our consideration.
iii. The parties work together to develop an agreed understanding of what a needs-based resourcing model may be, and how it might be used to improve the delivery of staffing.
iv. That, as part of this work, the parties seek to gain a better understanding of the use of guidance and management time in schools.
v. Also as part of this work, the parties seek to gain a better understanding of the use of operational funding and locally raised funds for additional staffing, and the potential risks and opportunities associated with this.
vi. The parties noted that there is a lack of agreed information on actual class sizes, and recommend that the Ministry looks to identify and implement a suitable existing (or new) mechanism that would allow it to robustly and effectively collect data on actual class sizes.
vii. The parties agreed that maintaining school-based decision making around class size is important and no recommendations were made regarding this issue.
viii. The parties encourage New Zealand-based research into the identification and measurement of the relative impact of the factors, including actual class size, on the ability of teachers to use the pedagogies and student focus envisaged in the New Zealand Curriculum, and the effect of each factor on student outcomes.
ix. The parties noted that developing solutions for classes that are too large is a contextual matter in New Zealand. No recommendations were made regarding this issue.