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NZPF: Get off your soapbox, English

NZPF: Get off your soapbox, English

- New Zealand Principals Federation -

New Zealand Principals’ Federation President Pat Newman has lashed out at comments made today by National MP Bill English.

Referring to a Ministry of Education-commissioned report, which said that teachers are fighting an 'accumulating lack of respect' from students, parents and the public, English said “the community will continue to be critical of teachers and schools when they are left in the dark about children's progress and a school's performance”.

“Bill English is grandstanding, yet again, to the detriment of teachers and principals throughout New Zealand,” says Newman. “If he wasn’t, why would he take a 200-page report and rant about a tiny aspect of it. He has demeaned the teaching profession and the report with one foul swoop.”

Newman says the report has highlighted a number of key issues facing teachers today, and English has failed to acknowledge any of them. “Sadly, instead, he has focused on this one tiny aspect, twisted its meaning totally, and leaves open for conjecture his motivation. That is gutter politics at its worst.”

Newman says there are a raft of ideas and recommendations that have come out of the report, which cannot be ignored. These include:
- The suggestion that increased teacher aide support is required across all sectors.
- Teachers report an increasing trend of being called upon to resolve or in some way respond effectively to increasing social problems.
- Senior students report unequivocally that… teaching is just an ordinary job and one which they cannot understand someone choosing.
- Many experienced teachers are clear they would not take on a leadership role.

“These are issues that will have major social implications for New Zealand education in the future,” says Newman. “English’s decision to focus on one tiny piece of the report brings into question his real commitment to the New Zealand education system. Instead of going through the report fully and addressing the major issues that are identified, he is scaremongering parents and further creating a climate of disrespect and mistrust.”

Newman is incensed by English’s inference that parents do not have adequate access to information about what goes on in their child’s classroom. “Parents can go into any school in the country and speak with their child’s teacher or principal. Parents are also able to sit in on classes if they so wish. There is no better way to get information about a child’s progress than to speak to teachers and principals. As a parent and an Education spokesman, English is well aware of that. It is his continuing negative comments that are part of the problem.”

Newman says the report highlighted why a lot of teachers enter the education profession. “The reasons are ‘based predominantly on intrinsic motivations related to wanting to work with children, to contribute to society and to do a job of which they feel proud’.

I sincerely doubt English can put his hand on his heart and say his actions today have contributed to society and made him feel proud. He has misled parents, yet again, about access to information on their child’s education and ignored the crucial issues affecting the New Zealand education system – he should feel ashamed.”


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