West Coast Teachers Say New Report More Considered
Teachers working in West Coast Schools feel an ERO report released today gives a truer picture of how their schools are performing than a report released last year.
In June last year ERO released a 2003 report that criticised the quality of education provided in West Coast schools. This left school staff feeling angry as the 2003 report was based on old information taken from school reviews dating back six years. It did not take into account the region’s isolation and sparse population and did not acknowledge the work teachers and principals were doing to enhance education quality on the Coast.
ERO has returned to the Coast and reviewed 35 of the 38 schools. In a report released today it acknowledges the challenges school staff face being based in “the most sparsely settled area in New Zealand.” The report states that: “ERO found many significant improvements in the quality of schooling on the West Coast.”
ERO also reviewed early childhood education services on the West Coast and found that most of them were providing children with high quality education and care.
“Many West Coast teachers have said this report gives a more balanced and considered view of schooling in the region because it recognises the difficulties they face in that many of their schools are remote and isolated,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.
The report identifies areas where West Coast schools are performing at the same level or above those of the rest country. These include student engagement with learning, the use of information resources and expertise beyond the schools and the use of the Special Education Grant funding.
“It’s also good to see ERO acknowledging the hard work teachers have put in over a sustained period of time and the benefit this is producing for their students,” says Colin Tarr.
ERO recognises the professional development teachers have been involved in to enhance the quality of their teaching of literacy and the high levels of student interest and enthusiasm for reading that this has produced.
“After a sustained amount of professional development work the teachers are saying that what they need now is to have time in their classroom to put theses enhanced skills into practice,” says Colin Tarr.
ERO notes that the uniqueness of the West Coast makes it difficult for schools to attract and retain suitably qualified teachers and principals. The report states that primary schools have a particular problem finding part time teachers who can work in schools and enable teaching principals to carry out their professional and managerial responsibilities.
“The report marks the second time ERO has noted that West Coast schools have a particular problem attracting and retaining suitable teachers and principals. NZEI members on the Coast now want to know what ERO and the Ministry of Education will do to address the situation,” says Colin Tarr.
“It’s vital the Ministry ensures that its programme of selling school houses and raising school house rents is not adding to the problems West Coast schools have in attracting and retaining staff,” says Colin Tarr.