Hekia Parata speaks a foreign language…or maybe that’s all politicians?

Hekia Parata was on the show this morning and I decided I needed a translator to help me decipher the answers given.

Question – There is a potential for class sizes to increase, is that correct?
Answer – There is a potential for that and we’ve made a conscience decision that one or two extra students in the middle year classes are acceptable if we can, at the same time, raise the quality of teaching across all of the classrooms.
Translation – Yes!

Question – If you’re going to raise the quality of teaching it’s not going to happen by the beginning of next year but class sizes may increase there seems to be a bit of a gap in the logic there.
Answer – Well, we have for the last ten years been raising the number of teachers we have in the NZ education system and in fact the number of teachers have increased at the rate of five times the rate of the number of students and we haven’t had five times the rate in the list of achievements so what we’re saying is we think we’ve got the quantity of teachers about right but now we need to make sure we raise the quality generally across the system.
Translation – Yes

Question – How is the performance pay going to work? Who is going to assess it? How are you going to judge if a teacher is performing well?
Answer – This is a part of a two year work programme which I announced yesterday, the appraisal system if a part of it, our proposal is to collaborate with the sector in the design of it, therefore both the process and features of it are yet to be determined.
Translation – We don’t know.

Question – So we don’t know how we are going to assess them yet, but we have announced that there is going to be an assessment where some of their pay will be based on it.
Answer – So we’re going to collaborate with the sector, the very sector you are referring to in the design of those features.
Translation – That is correct, we don’t know

Question – So we don’t know that answer yet we don’t know how they are going to be assessed?
Answer – Because it is a two year work programme that I announced yesterday.
Translation – That is correct, we don’t know yet.

And it went on….

Question – What education system in the world that you guys have looked at, that has the potential of having fewer teachers and more students, has actually worked for a better outcome for the students?
Answer – Well that’s the point we have to design a system that is particular to NZ so we’re not proposing to adopt any one system, but we’ve certainly been looking at all 65 of the countries with whom we participate both within the OECD, but also in the PISA process, so we would look to see what particular features work in what contect, whether or not they would be appropriate for NZ, but in the end those would only be advice and we would design what would fit the purpose for our country
Translation – ??????????

Question – Are there any examples at all with a government purposely applying a system where numbers of students go up and numbers of teachers come down, potentially, and that improves the outcomes for students, are there any examples of that in the world anywhere?
Answer – Well with respect, education has many dynamic moving parts, our system doesn’t perfectly match anybody elses, our system has a number of features…..[losing interest]…blah, blah, blah…..snoring noises…
Translation – No there are not any examples anywhere in the world.

So here are my main concerns.

Again we have a National government tinkering with an education system, using untested, unproven methods and holding them up as the answer.

Nobody would disagree that there are some people in teaching who shouldn’t be there, but to attack the problem with what is obviously a Treasury based solution, rather than an education based one is nonsense.

To announce a system that is going to grade (some say degrade) our teachers and base their pay on it, to commit to it for next week’s budget, and introduce it as of the start of next year…when you don’t know how you are going to assess the teachers…isn’t only poor politics, it down right criminal

You can listen to the whole interview here, just have you’re translator ready :o)