17 May 2007
A tick and two crosses
Secondary schools will welcome the operations funding catch up but the continuing absence of staffing increases at the secondary level leaves the Minister's goals for personalised learning simply pie in the sky, PPTA president Robin Duff said today.
Mr Duff said the funding increase was an overdue response to some of the concerns identified by schools in last year's operations grant review.
He said the decision to extend funding for existing e-learning clusters, which share learning online through video conferencing, was forward looking. "E-learning is an increasingly important component of curriculum delivery in the 21st century and the extra funding should ensure the sustainability of these clusters in the short term."
Extra money for relief teacher rates was also a positive initial move to address wider operations grant problems. It would remove an anomaly which had seen secondary rates fall behind and would ensure schools had enough money to provide relief in cases of teacher sickness, leave, or absence for professional development.
But Mr Duff panned the government's "empty rhetoric" on personalised learning when it had failed to address the pressure that NCEA was putting on secondary and area schools.
"While reducing class sizes in primary schools is a positive move, secondary teachers struggling with NCEA classes of up to 30 students will see this Budget as a slap in the face.
"By failing both to make class size reductions and to provide extra resourcing to address the huge pressures NCEA imposes on schools, the Minister is sending the message that he does not care about the viability of NCEA.
"The additional staffing costs of reducing the pupil-teacher curriculum staffing ratios in New Zealand secondary and area schools by two at every year level would have been a little less than $78 million, or just $283 per student.
"This would have reduced the average class size to around 20 students and gone a long way towards ensuring no secondary student is condemned to large classes."