A proposal to improve school and teacher quality

Published: Wed 3 Dec 2008 03:56 PM
A proposal to improve secondary school and teacher quality
How to fill schools with high-quality teachers, allow them to get results and get better access to professional development
By Byron Bentley
Education Forum Chairman
and Principal of Macleans College
Roger Moses
Education Forum Deputy Chairman
and Headmaster of Wellington College
A proposal to improve school and teacher quality
Without talented, enthusiastic and qualified teachers in our classrooms, New Zealand cannot hope to have a first-class, first-world, compulsory school system.
This document puts forward six proposals to ensure that quality teachers remain a feature of our classrooms.
1. Studentships to recruit and retain new teachers
2. Teacher training
3. Incentives to teach in designated hard-to-staff schools
4. Schools to be self-managing
5. A greater flexibility for enrolment schemes
6. A restructuring of the Education Review Office
1. Studentships to recruit and retain new teachers
• Bring back tertiary education studentships in all subject areas with payments increasing each year of a degree and for the one year post-degree secondary school training.
• For each year of payment, a bond for a full-year of teaching would be expected of students or they would have to pay back the money in full.
2. A reformation of teacher training
• More time at on-site training.
• Lift the funding for schools to allow experienced teachers to have time and resources to mentor teacher trainees.
• Bolster time and funding for schools to build teaching and learning teams (ie master teachers leading ongoing professional development).
• Improve the quality of technology teaching by allowing all schools to employ skilled people from technology industries, for example in food, wood, metal, electronics and graphics.
 These people would be employed as associate teachers.
 They would be eligible for all school mentoring and training courses.
 Their salary should also be commensurate with their qualifications and experience (in many cases this would be top of scale).
 They would be allowed to stay in their home town or city while in training at a ‘base school’ and encouraged, if it is possible, to experience teaching at a variety of local schools.
(It is unacceptable that technology has gone into such a disastrous state in most schools. It is past time that unorthodox but effective methods be developed to recruit, train and retain skilled practitioners as technology teachers in our schools.)
3. Incentives offered for recruitment, reward and retention (3 Rs) of all management and teaching staff in hard-to-staff schools
• Provide a larger pool of management units to these schools so existing quality teachers, senior managers, HODs, Deans can be rewarded and retained and new quality teachers recruited.
• New teachers would be encouraged to teach at designated hard-to-staff schools by a mixture of salary increases (for example a 30 per cent increase) and a corresponding annual decrease in student loan repayments (over and above the ‘studentship’ they may have) for each year they teach there.
• Provide BOTs with extra discretionary funding to recruit new principals who have the ability to reform the school.
4. Greater freedom for schools to be self-managing
• Allow schools that meet criteria for academic results and financial viability to receive a “warrant of fitness” and be able to run their own affairs within the legislative and curriculum requirements of the Ministry of Education. This management may include:
- A school-based payroll service.
- School-based property management, with modernisation money, for example, paid into the school accounts.
5. A greater flexibility for enrolment schemes
• While respecting the general principle of a ‘home zone’, allow schools to accept, using their own criteria, students who wish to enrol with them when the school is not closest to their home. For example, this may include families who have a close historical association with the school.
• All enrolled students to attract property funding, along with staffing and operations funding.
6. A reformation of the Education Review Office
• Split the Education Review Office into two divisions
1. One division to comprise permanent specialist staff responsible for auditing school finances and health and safety.
2. The second division to be based on visiting teams of teachers looking specifically at schools’ teaching, learning, assessment and appraisal.
As well as permanent staff, this would include a significant number of seconded teachers of superior quality, whose role would not only be to evaluate, but also to provide advice. This would be a conscious move to reintroduce some aspects of the former Inspectorate.
The teams could also be utilised by Boards of Trustees to give second opinions on:
- teacher competence
- effectiveness of the SMT
- effectiveness of other programmes in the school.
The seconded teachers would be nominated by principals. All schools would be able to nominate. This would give teachers an invaluable sabbatical and professional development experience and utilise the huge experience on offer in the compulsory teaching sector with the consequent flow of ideas and best practices from school-to-school.

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