Honourable Chris Carter
Minister of Education
An open letter on
secondary school resourcing
In responding publicly to the recent open letter from North Shore principals you suggested their concern over the inadequacy of the resourcing to secondary schools was limited to a small group.
It is unfortunate that these principals have reached the point of such frustration that they are forced to express the needs and concerns of their schools in this way, but while they were focussed on their own schools we must reinforce the fact that these are not isolated concerns about funding and staffing resources.
As organisations collectively representing over 18,000 secondary teachers and principals we wish to make it clear to you that the concerns are shared right across the secondary school sector.
It bothers us that while you and your ministry have been repeatedly advised by all sector groups that the current operational funding (including the recent 1.9% real increase announced in the budget) and the current staffing resources provided to schools are inadequate to meet the existing demands on secondary schools, you persist in a denial strategy.
We believe that the intent of Schools Plus is laudable and that the policy offers enormous potential to enhance the education of many of our current and future students. We do not support withdrawing from the process assisting in developing the policy details and the implementation programme. However, we are forced by your public denials to make overt the warning that the policy will fail unless the resourcing to secondary schools is enhanced to properly meet current demands before the considerable additional resourcing required to implement the new policy is applied.
The staffing of schools has to be sufficient to meet current contractual requirements before it can also be available to create new structures for education delivery, enhance career and personal advice and guidance and meet the additional administrative demands that the new policy will require if it is to be successful. Operational funding has to be addressed to fulfil current needs if schools are then to be able to utilise the additional resources you will provide to pay for the extra costs associated with the Schools Plus policy.
We are seriously concerned that, to date, we have seen no public indication that you have understood the current resourcing pressures schools are under, or the need to address those before applying significant new resources to accommodate what would be a major new policy. We also suggest that simply repeating calls for teachers and principals to shut up about resourcing and ‘just get on with it’ is not constructive and does not encourage a positive engagement with the Schools Plus policy.
Robin Duff, President NZPPTA (ph 021 636 108)
Arthur Graves, Chairperson New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council (NZSPC)