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Seaworthy ships and stormy seas - PPTA annual conference

Seaworthy ships and stormy seas - PPTA annual conference 2014

Pirates, privateers, seaworthy ships and stormy seas all featured in PPTA president Angela Roberts' nautically themed opening speech to the association's annual conference this morning.

Describing the political context PPTA ventures out into as "often stormy and dangerous" she quoted Vincent van Gogh:

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."

She took time in her speech to the association's annual conference to address misinformation surrounding Investing in Educational Success (IES).

"At these meetings we are able to debate challenging issues, reflect on the differing viewpoints and work our way towards solutions.
"What we get out of conference are policies that have been tested by the membership and pronounced seaworthy," Roberts said.

"That's why we greeted the prime minister's announcement in January about IES with cautious optimism. Like many we were bemused and somewhat suspicious but we could see elements in the proposals that were entirely consistent with long-established PPTA policy - much of it debated and set in this very room," she said.

Roberts ran through conference papers dating back to 2007 that echoed IES policies - including career paths, mentoring, sharing professional practice, proposals for school leaders to work together and collaboration between schools.

"Of course some of the catch was pretty smelly and needed to be chucked back - initially it was being promoted as performance pay and there was some loose comment that achievement data would be used to appoint the new positions.

"It was policy to the rescue again. We did the research, gathered evidence, talked hard (and sometimes tough) at the table and succeeded in turning the original proposal into something that was consistant with PPTA policy...we made it absolutely clear to all parties that without those changes we would not be continuing in the process," she said.

"We continued working on the detail and as promised we will have something ready to take to members for their acceptance or rejection next term."

"I promise you (PPTA) executive has been very clear-eyed every step of the way."

"The government could have legislated these changes in place. It could have waited for negotiations next year and refused to settle without performance pay. it could have put the money in schools' operations grants and let boards and principals parcel it out to their favourites. It did none of these things.

Instead it did what we have been asking for - offered to work with the unions to negotiate changes through our collective agreements. When a government invites a union to work with them as "trusted professional partners" what is achieved by refusing to engage? What message does that send to governments about the value of working with teacher organisations?

Roberts also assured delegates that, despite claims being made to the contrary, IES would not be imposed on anyone.

"Communities of schools form voluntarily - no school has to join if it doesn't want to. Collaboration can't be mandated," she said.

"No teacher union can simply vote the policy away. The choice is a stark one, either be part of the solution and ensure all the operating details are openly and transparently set out in the collective agreement or leave it to the ministry to implement performance pay," she said.

PPTA’s annual conference runs from September 30 to October 2 and is an opportunity for members to debate, discuss and vote on papers that will shape PPTA policy. Decisions are made by secondary teachers for secondary teachers.

Issues discussed this year will include zoning, school resourcing, the demolition of the New Zealand Teachers Council and resources to help address student behaviour. The full papers are available at:

The conference will be held at the Brentwood Hotel in Kilbirnie, Wellington and media are more than welcome to attend. It will also be webstreamed live at


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