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No excuses for underachievement - NZSTA

 

No excuses for underachievement - NZSTA

The constant worry of having to stretch already limited funds detracts from schools’ focus on student achievement, says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr says boards of trustees are picking up the tab for many hidden costs linked to teaching and non-teaching staff and are having to deal with increased operating costs.

As a result, she says, not only is the “almighty dollar” stretched to the limit, but time spent on chasing funding detracts from the core business of boards and schools, which is raising student achievement.

Ms Kerr says that while the budget did produce a small “nett” increase in funding of around 1.9%, it is hard to escape the fact that boards always seem to be the poor relation when it comes to funding to run the school.

Raising student achievement is the focus of the annual NZSTA conference being held at the Christchurch Convention Centre from July 18-20.

 “While adequacy of funding continues to be an issue, we need to make sure our focus is not diverted because of funding or related issues but that we continue to bring the focus back to an unqualified commitment to ensure that all students succeed,” says Ms Kerr.

While it is important for teachers to undergo professional development, to enjoy reasonable work conditions and have access to quality resources, she says the continued focus on student achievement remains paramount.

“From a board of trustee governance perspective it must always comes back to students experiencing success and achievement.

“When ERO reviews the school it’s the board that is held accountable for student achievement. When we put money into education we must ensure it is spent on what students need ahead of what teachers or parents think they want.”

If we believe that all students achieving to their potential is the outcome we want from our education system then we must learn to refuse to accept excuses for underachievement, she says. There is an increasing body of evidence that under the right conditions, all students can achieve to their potential regardless of socio-economic and home life factors.   

“Underachievement is almost a certainty if we allow a culture in our schools to exist that accepts a predetermination that the background of the student makes achievement unlikely.”

Other topics to be covered at the NZSTA conference include student discipline issues confronting schools in 2008, the challenges and opportunities faced by boards of trustees in developing cyber citizens and issues that arise from complaints to the Ombudsmen’s Office by parents or students about board of trustees’ disciplinary decisions.

[ends]

 

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