Whakaritenga - Preparation Mā roto hoki kia ora Ka pai te kōrero
When refreshed, the conversation will be agreeable E te whānau, ngā tumuaki o Aotearoa, tēnā koutou katoa
Since we published the Secretary for Education's statement on the intent of CoL, I have received a great deal of feedback from you. Thank you for that and here is a report on your concerns.
Many of you had already raised the issue of CoL being over-loaded with new functions other than professional collaboration to improve learning and teaching for our young people. '...more is being put under the CoL umbrella; the language being used suggests CoL will solve everything and CoL are responsible for everything.'
I specifically asked the Secretary of Education to provide us with a statement of intent so that I could clarify which additional functions if any, are intended for CoL. I listed special education provision, sharing of facilities, sharing staffing and relief teachers, sharing operations funding, bundling of services and undertaking network reviews, because these are the functions you repeatedly ask me about.
As you now know the Secretary for Education never mentioned any of these functions in her statement of intent which we separately sent you last week. In respect of the intent of CoL, she said CoL would create a system based on collaboration across the education pathway connecting students with learning and would be focused on progress and quality teaching and leadership and support to meet those needs.
Several of you have commented, including through our survey, that in respect of CoL you are operating in the dark, building the plane in flight. '...the rules keep changing; the MOE isn't always sure of what is or isn't happening.' To some extent the Secretary recently confirmed this for me by saying that there have been cases where exceptions have been approved like in the case of a Deputy Principal being appointed to lead a CoL and where shared leadership was allowed.
Some of you say you have left your CoL because your CoL is not functioning to improve your students' learning. Many of you are still struggling with the inflexibility of the leadership structure and you are uncomfortable with the notion of a few roles taking all the money. 'The rigidity of the funding being mostly tied up in salaries allows for little flexibility. None of the principals in our CoL want to lead it because of the extra work load and stress whilst trying to manage our own schools.'
By far the majority of you who have brought your concerns to my attention do not trust this model to be genuinely about collaboration and learning, but rather say it is a managerial system which will completely undermine the relationship between a school and its community. '...this is leading to combined boards and loss of individual autonomy - we are here to serve our local communities and reflect their needs and know our own learners - I don't see this model promoting this.'
The National party MP for Clutha-Southland, Todd Barclay, just last week supported this view saying 'CoL were a chance for a localised Board to close schools if it felt it could better target funding.'
Many more of you report that you fear missing out by not joining a CoL and are being coerced. 'The pressure to join a CoL just to ensure your school is not missing out on PLD etc is a concern.'
I am putting your concerns back to the Secretary for Education to answer more directly and to clarify for you what really is intended for CoL. If CoL are purely about collaboration and sharing expertise across schools so that students' learning can benefit, as the Secretary indicated in her statement last week, there is no need for a principal to be paid extra to lead the group. As so many of you report now, you already do this and would welcome additional PLD money to continue and expand your good work.
Learning Support (special education) This week I met with the Ministry's Deputy Secretary David Wales, to further discuss the Waiariki pilot study and specifically the role of the 'Learning Support Facilitator', in supporting schools with students who present with high level behaviour challenges. It is still unclear how the $34.6 million announced pre-Budget in May for this purpose, might be allocated. I have requested that the profession be invited to participate in deciding how the money is used and what specialist support is required because we are the ones with the experience and understanding of how these behaviours impact on our schools as a whole.
This weekend we have a very full agenda for our executive meeting which I will report on next week.
My thanks again for your feedback which is truly appreciated.