Q+A Education debate
Q+A Education debate with National’s Nikki Kaye and Labour’s Chris Hipkins
National’s Nikki Kaye says her party doesn’t support teachers’ pay rates based on performance.
“No, we don’t support performance pay,” Ms Kaye told Corin Dann on TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme this morning.
“The only thing I’d say is I’ve had a lot of feedback from teachers across the country. They quite like ACT’s policy in terms of paying teachers more, but we don’t support performance pay,” she said.
However, Labour’s Chris Hipkins said his party will scrap National Standards.
“We want parents to have better information about how their kids are doing. National Standards are not national; they’re not standard; they don’t measure progress,” said Mr Hipkins.
“And they’ve been found by the Ministry of Education’s own research to be a very bad measure of how well students are progressing,” he said.
CHRIS HIPKINS and NIKKI KAYE
Interviewed by CORIN DANN
CORIN We start this morning
with education, a topic, of course that concerns many New
Zealanders, from students and parents, to employers as well.
Let’s start by introducing the two people who want to run
our education system for the next three years – Nikki
Kaye, from the National Party. Welcome to you this morning.
And Chris Hipkins, from Labour. Welcome to you both. I
wonder if we can get right to the nitty-gritty, and we’ll
start with National Standards this morning. Nikki Kaye, your
party has announced that you would actually enhance national
standardised testing and want to report via people’s
phones. Is that
NIKKI Yes, that’s exactly right. So what we want to do is ensure that every parent in the country has access to better information about how their children are doing, and we want it to be online. At the moment, one of the criticisms of National Standards is that parents haven’t been able to see the progression of children, but also that granular detail of what’s happening.
CORIN How are you going to get overstressed, overworked teachers to have the time to be importing data on to the Internet?
NIKKI Well, one thing we’ve announced is a $45 million investment to support the ICT infrastructure. We know with the PaCT tool now, which currently measures progression that some teachers are actually, in the long-term, finding less workload. So part of it is helping to automation.
CORIN Chris Hipkins, your party wants to do away with National Standards. Why?
CHRIS Well, because we want parents to have better information about how their kids are doing. National Standards are not national; they’re not standard; they don’t measure progress, and they’ve been found by the Ministry of Education’s own research to be a very bad measure of how well students are progressing. The Ministry of Education did research on this and found that four out of 10 National Standards results are not measuring the child’s progress accurately.
CORIN But parents do find them very useful, don’t they? Because they identify very clearly when somebody is not meeting a standard, and therefore there is a problem. That is useful, isn’t it?
CHRIS Well, no, because they’re not measuring progress. So for example, if a child starts school well below standard but makes enormous progress, they could still be below standard. On the other hand, if a child starts school already meeting the standard, they could make no progress, and they’re deemed to be successful. Actually, the child who’s making a lot of progress but not quite hitting the standard is the one who’s learning more.
NIKKI But, Corin, the whole point of National Standards Plus that we’ve announced is to ensure that we are able to measure progress. The issue with the Labour Party is that they’re saying they’re going to scrap National Standards and they’re not saying what they’re going to replace it with. I think that’s wrong for parents. They should know. They’ve had nine years to work it out. They should know the detail.
CHRIS I can give it to you right now. The New Zealand Curriculum has levels of progression in it already. What we’ve said is that we want schools reporting against the curriculum – the whole curriculum – not just literacy and numeracy. Because parents want to know how they’re doing in Science, in the Arts and in many other things as well. We want schools reporting in plain language against the progression levels of the curriculum. Let’s be fair to schools here. The curriculum was introduced in 2007. It had the levels of progression in it. It was identified that parents needed to have this information. National Standards were introduced two years later before they were implemented.
CORIN What does that mean to
parents? With National Standards, whatever its faults are or
otherwise, it’s a very clear message. What are they going
to get that tells them whether their child is doing as well
CHRIS They’ll get much better information on how their child is doing because it will report the progress that the child’s made through the year. Yet National Standards’ reporting, as mandate by the government for the last nine years, only tells parents whether a child meets the standard or doesn’t. It doesn’t tell them how much progress they’ve made in getting towards—
NIKKI The reality is that we both support progression. We both support the learning progression frameworks. The reality is that we’ve put up a proposal that actually has a trusted framework that will ensure that every parent gets access to good information online.
CHRIS But it’s not trusted. It’s not trusted, because all of the research has said that those standards are shonky, they’re faulty, and the research says that they’re inconsistent; schools are applying the inconsistently and the data they parents are getting is not worth it.
NIKKI You tell
that to the children. We have 44% of children in New Zealand
– Maori children – leaving our schools not with the
relevant qualifications. By introducing National Standards,
by a huge investment in literacy and numeracy, we now have
74% young Maori leaving our schools, being able read, write,
CHRIS National Standards have nothing to do with that. By National Standards, numeracy has gone down, by National Standards’ won measures. It’s flat-lined.
NIKKI You and I both know
that this is an issue of the pathways. We know that if we
have more children in early childhood education, we have a
better measurement in terms of primary school, we invest in
terms of issues, accelerating mathematics, accelerating
literacy, we then have more support around teachers at
secondary school. We can see lifts in achievement, and
that’s what we are unashamedly focused
CORIN Nikki Kaye, if National Standards are working, why are we doing so badly in maths?
NIKKI Well, one of the issues, and that’s why we’ve announced a $126 million maths package, as part of our government’s policy, is because we can see that in years four to eight, young people are slipping, and that is an issue, I think, of a couple of things. One is we need to up the skill of some of our mathematics teachers. That’s why what our policy is doing is ensuring that those mathematics teachers can do papers at university; and also pouring in remedial work for those schools.
CORIN You sure it’s not the way we’re teaching maths?
NIKKI Well, some of it is. Some of it is the way that we’re teaching maths. And if you look at our policy, we’re going to able to help with that. But I think the point that I’d make to Chris is that if you’re not clear what you’re going to replace National Standards with, you won’t know where these children are and you won’t know how to help them. And that’s bad for some of our most vulnerable children.
CHRIS I just was. I just said that we are going to require schools to report in plain language against the progression in the curriculum. The curriculum’s a great document, Nikki. I’d encourage you to have a read of it, because it actually spells out very clearly the levels of progression that a child is expected to make at all levels and across all subject areas in the curriculum.
CORIN Okay, I want to come back to the issue of maths. How will Labour address the issue where we’re failing in maths?
CHRIS Firstly, we’re going to start
with initial teacher education. We’re getting to people
out of initial teacher education whose numeracy skills
simply aren’t up to scratch. And if they don’t have the
numeracy skills they need to teach it, then they’re going
to struggle. So Nikki’s absolutely right – putting more
money into professional development for teachers around
numeracy and around maths is very
CORIN And what about the very huge issue in this country about whether we’re teaching it correctly?
CHRIS Look, I think that we have got it right. The research would suggest that we’ve got it right. Yes, there are some researchers who would take a different view. I’ve canvassed the various strands of research, and I would think that the methodology is less of an issue than the teacher’s ability to teach that. We have got a numeracy problem.
CORIN Nikki Kaye, you also want to put a big focus on digital learning, at a young age. Are you worried that that’s perhaps again going to put too much screen time in front of children?
NIKKI Look, we’ve already announced that within our policy, we’re doing a whole lot of work chief science advisors to make sure that there’s a good amount of time and a bad amount of time online. However, what we do know is that 50% of the jobs that exist, in the next 20 years may not exist. So we are unashamedly spending $40 million to upskill teachers, to ensure that young people are taught not only how to use technology but also to be the creators--
CORIN Do you have a figure of how much is too much screen time? Well, look, there is a figure that chief science advisors have put out in terms of recreational screen time. So they’ve said more than a few hours after school is bad.
CORIN What, two hours?
NIKKI That’s what they’ve said in terms of screen time guidelines. But there is a lot of work going on in terms of in school. And I think that point that I’d make is that some of this, the computational thinking that is in the new curriculum that we are consulting on, is not necessarily about screen time; it’s about teaching the theory of technology.
CORIN I’m going to ask Chris too. Do you have a personal view on whether children are getting too much screen time? This is a massive issue for parents.
NIKKI Yes. I do think in some cases they are, and I definitely get that feedback from schools and parents, and that will be what we’ll need to navigate through. But that is not an excuse.
CORIN Sure. Sure. I just want to know – and you think two hours after school, any more than that is too much?
NIKKI That’s the guidelines that we’ve put out with the Ministry of Health.
CORIN Chris Hipkins, what do you think of this issue? Because it is something that worries a lot of parents.
CHRIS I think it’s important that we draw the distinction between learning digital technology and learning with digital technology. Because they’re not necessarily the same thing.
CORIN How much is too much screen time?
CHRIS I’m not going to put a particular time limit on it, but I think that good teachers who will be teaching kids digital technology, including without using the devices. So there is a difference. Some of the skills the kids are learning in schools, they are learnings that apply to digital technology but you don’t need digital technology to learn it. I actually think the current government have got it about right.
CORIN I was going to ask. So there is broad agreement here that the idea of bringing in coding early – those sorts of things – are a good idea in your view? You would continue with that?
CHRIS Well, it’s not just coding. And I think that, again, the current government have got the curriculum about right on digital technology. It’s not just about a narrow range of skills or a particular application; it’s actually about a broad range of skills that are compatible with the digital era. And I think the digital technology curriculum, from the feedback we’ve had so far, is about right.
CORIN I’m going to touch on the issue of teacher’s pay and that sort of thing in the second half of this debate. But before we go to the break, I wanted to just ask – do you have a view on homework and whether children should be doing homework at home – in primary school?
NIKKI Oh, absolutely. I think it’s totally, though, up to the school and parents. I mean, for each child, there’ll be a different--
CORIN No, but I want to know what you think. Because people are trying to assess you as an education minister of the future. Do you think primary school children should do homework?
NIKKI Absolutely. But I think, again, it will be up to parents and schools to decide how much that is for a particular child. The reality is that young people are already online, doing a range of self-directed learning themselves. So it depends what you actually terms as homework. Because I think many young people, they have huge opportunities that they’ve never had before, and we can see them enhancing their learning at home.
CORIN Chris Hipkins, what do you think about this? Because there is a debate that some people say that for primary school children, it’s pointless doing homework.
CHRIS Well, research would suggest that the countries that have less homework actually are doing better than us in the international studies, but it is a matter for the schools and for the parents to determine, though.
CORIN What do you think, personally?
CHRIS Personally, I would be happy with my child going to school and not getting homework, because when they get home, I’d rather that they were out playing with other kids and learning those other things that are really important, like inter-social skills and the ability to interact with other kids. I think that’s also a really important part of the learning process.
NIKKI We both agree on that. I think it’s going to be a balance. We want young people to be able to be learning to have good relationships. We want them to be out playing sport; we want them to be doing culture; but I also think, look, for some young people, they love science, and they want to be online. They want to be learning things, and they want to be talking to their parents about how they might do better, so I think that’s a good thing.
CHRIS Yeah. We have to be
reasonable about what we can expect of teachers. One of the
challenges of the online environment is that teachers are
now having to respond to kids around the clock, because will
be at home sending them messages, and we’ve actually got
to think about what the implications of that is.
CORIN Nikki Kaye, if I could ask you, will National Standards and the data collected from that ever be used for, in a future National government, for teachers’ pay rates for performance pay?
NIKKI No, we don’t support performance pay. No, we don’t support.
CORIN So that means ACT’s David Seymour’s policy of 20,000 extra, the ability basically to bulk-fund a school so they could pay a teacher $120,000, you’re saying you wouldn’t do it?
NIKKI We don’t support performance pay. The only thing I’d say is I’ve had a lot of feedback from teachers across the country. The quite like ACT’s policy in terms of paying teachers more, but we don’t support performance pay.
CORIN So that’s a non-negotiable, if you have to go into some sort of negotiation?
NIKKI Well, I don’t know if I’ll be at the table, to be fair. It might be slightly above my pay scale, but that’s not something we’ve supported.
CORIN Chris Hipkins, do you see, though, that there’ll be some teachers that will like that idea because they feel that they can’t get ahead and get a wage that can live in Auckland, for example?
CHRIS I don’t think there’s a politician in the country that’s going to say that they don’t think that teachers should be paid more. Of course we all think that teachers should be paid more. I think ACT’s policy is completely nuts. And the National Party opposed charter schools until the ACT Party made them do it, and they could well have performance pay on the table if they’re beholden to ACT after the coming elections.
CORIN So here’s the thing – so you would pay teachers more?
CHRIS Of course we will.
CORIN And it will be across the board, whether they’re good or bad?
CHRIS Well, look, these things are subject to negotiation, of course. They’ve got to come with a claim and we’ve got to negotiate.
CORIN But you would be paying potentially bad teachers more as well, wouldn’t you?
CHRIS Well, what’s a bad teacher? Because actually, bad teachers shouldn’t be in the system. So we should be paying all teachers better, because any bad teachers shouldn’t be teaching.
CORIN Well, I think that’s a good point. And I want to put that to Nikki Kaye. Do you think you can actually measure what a bad teacher or a good teacher is?
NIKKI Well, look, when I talk to principals, what they say is, in part through having National Standards, they’re able to see where maybe teachers do need additional support in terms of professional development. And many teachers would say that. That’s why we’ve increased professional development by about $65 million; we’re putting in another $24 million as part of the digital technologies package. But we’ve got to do other things. We’ve got to improve our initial teacher education. That’s why the Education Council are consulting on a range of proposals. We’ve got to continue to lift that quality, and I think we’ve got a pretty clear plan to do that.
CHRIS Initial teacher
education has been in need of improvement for a long time.
We’ve been talking about this. For five years that I’ve
been the Education Spokesperson, and the current government
have only just got round to thinking about it. And in the
meantime, five more years of teachers have finished their
initial teacher education. This is a big problem. It’s
something that’s been needed to be addressed for a long,
CORIN So how much money would go towards teachers’ salary?
CHRIS Well, it’s not a question of that; it’s the question of how do we improve the quality of teaching overall; where do we identify the areas that there’s pressure? So I think that there is pressure at the top of the salary scale for teachers who’ve been in the workforce for a period of time and have hit the top of the scale and haven’t got anywhere to go.
CORIN Presumably, the teacher unions are going to be looking to a Labour government to significantly boost the pay of teachers, aren’t they? And you’re going to need to deliver on that if you’re in government.
CHRIS Well, I think if you look over history, they’ve done pretty poorly under the current National government. They’ve had very minimal pay increases. They did very well under the last Labour government. I would imagine that we will do what we can, but we have to work within the financial constraints.
CORIN How much is this going to cost?
CHRIS Well, there’s no claim on the table yet, and I don’t think the collective agreement expires until the end of next year, anyway.
NIKKI Well, Corin, here’s the
reality – Labour have announced, I think, $19 billion
spending; we’ve announced $6bn. They haven’t got any
more money left in the kitty. So Chris needs to be clear
where that money is coming from. Since we’ve been in
government, we’ve not only increased teachers’ salaries,
I think, by about 17%, but we’ve also put in these roles
from communities of learning, whereby we pay some teachers
$8000 to $16,000 more to be able to teach across
CORIN And how’s that going in Auckland? Because you’ve got such a teacher shortage, I wonder whether any school could afford to give away one of their teachers for a couple of days a week, because they’re absolutely stretched.
NIKKI Well, we’ve got about 1400 roles. So we are definitely performing in terms of that programme. But I think you’re absolutely right – there are some teacher-shortage issues – and that’s why we’ve announced about $20 million of investment, voluntary bonding in Auckland, which will see some teachers about $10,000 better off. We’ve announced relocation grants for expat Kiwis…
CORIN But none of it’s working, is it? You admitted this week on Breakfast that there was a short-term shortage. And you also acknowledged that somehow this was missed, that longer term, you shouldn’t be getting these.
NIKKI What I’ve said is this isn’t a new issue. In 2007, 2008, you’ve got 100,000 teachers. The vacancies are actually about between 2% and 4%. That is not unusual for--
CORIN But if your government’s going to allow net migration to grow out to 70,000-plus a year and leave it there for three or four years, then surely your government has a responsibility to plan for that.
NIKKI Well, look, I think we do have a responsibility to plan for that.
CORIN But you didn’t.
NIKKI I think the issue is when you’re dealing 100,000 teachers, it can be difficult to manage exactly where they’re going to go. However, I want us to do better, and that’s why I’ve got the ministry doing a long-term plan for the next 10 to 15 years. We’re looking at the ageing teaching workforce. Looking at those subject areas.
CORIN I need to get Chris to respond to this. The teacher shortage – do you think you could’ve done any better? It is a demographic-type bulge here.
CHRIS Absolutely. For the last five years, the current government have been saying, ‘There’s no problem. There’s no problem. There’s no problem.’ And suddenly this year, they’ve decided that there is a problem, perhaps because there is an election rolling around. Actually, this problem has been going for a period of time. They cut the funding to the teacher recruitment programme TeachNZ, which is designed to get people into teaching. They have ignored the pleas from school principals in Auckland who are saying, ‘Please, please, please do something to help us.’ Of course we’ve got to do more. We’ve earmarked another $40 million for teacher supply initiatives.
CORIN And will you allow the use of more unregistered teachers?
CORIN Why not? I mean, surely the kids need teachers, right? You’ve got to get people in front of them. What’s the problem?
CHRIS Because the fact that somebody has knowledge in a particular subject area doesn’t mean that they have the ability to impart that knowledge to somebody else. Teaching is an art in itself. And I want to make sure that the kids are getting the best possible teachers, and that means ones who are properly trained.
CORIN Is this an ideological block here for Labour, though, that you can’t get past that?
CHRIS No, not at all. If the ideological block is that we want people in front of kids who know how to teach them, well, I guess I’m guilty of that. I want to make sure that the teachers in the classroom know how to teach.
NIKKI Corin, there is a pretty clear choice at this election. Labour do have an ideological block when it comes to education. They want to scrap partnership schools and freeze funding to independent schools. They want to review integrated schools. When it comes to limited authority to teach, we’ve announced a second-language policy for in-schools, and we do accept that there needs to be language assistants alongside registered teachers. But this is about ensuring that young people are equipped for the future, and that is the best thing for young New Zealanders, not ideological education policies of the past.
CHRIS Ploughing more money into private schools is going to take that money out of the public system. Charter schools are funded at least two times, if not up to five times, the rate of public schools. Why shouldn’t kids in public schools get that level of resourcing?
NIKKI Well, because if we
didn’t have independent schools, the figures that I’ve
had is it would cost the taxpayer several hundred million
dollars more to pay for them within in the state system. But
Labour’s education policies are from the 1950s. Ours are
very future-focused. They’re absolutely focused for
ensuring that young people--
CORIN Let’s talk about that language policy. Why is the government putting resources into potentially 10 languages when we have a second language of Te Reo, which, surely that’s where your focus should be. That is the official second language of New Zealand. Why isn’t that being made compulsory? Or why is it, at the very least, the resource is not going in to make sure every child in primary school has access to that?
NIKKI Well, let me be clear, Corin, we put $400 million in resources for Te Reo, and actually we’ve gone up 30,000 young people--
CORIN We don’t have enough teachers, do we?
NIKKI Well, we are investing in programmes like Teach First NZ to ensure we have more--
CORIN But diverting the energy into allowing them to learn other languages when, surely, Te Reo has to be the priority.
NIKKI Well, Te Reo will be one of the priority languages.
CORIN One of 10.
NIKKI Well, they’re going to end up getting more resource. And there is a difference in our law. Under New Zealand law, young people have a right to learn Te Reo. It is one of the official languages of New Zealand. And it’s going to be more supported by this having every young person learning a language.
CORIN Do we need to do more as a country to close the gaps for Maori and Pacific students? Your government has made progress in secondary school, sure. Big progress. But there’s a clear disparity in terms of those going to university.
NIKKI Yeah, look, we do need to do more, and one of the things that we’ve announced is the scrapping of the decile system. We know that we’ve got to invest more in those children that are at risk of not achieving, and again, we’ve got a very clear policy. We’re going to spend more in this area.
CORIN Well, Labour’s got a policy to make the first year of tertiary education free. Isn’t that closing the gaps?
NIKKI Well, I would argue that we’ve got to go a lot earlier. We’ve got to ensure— And we have been putting thousands more young people in early child education--
CORIN I will get Chris Hipkins to respond to that. Do you feel there is a need to bring back that idea of closing the gaps when it comes to education, when it comes to those sort of issues with Maori and Pacific students?
CHRIS I think we’ve got to change our thinking. At the moment, at lot of thinking is still around a third of kids who got to university. Actually, two-thirds of kids don’t go straight to university after school, and we’ve got to spend a lot more time talking about them, making sure there are meaningful pathways, because a lot of kids are getting NCEA that lead them nowhere. So they’re accumulating the credits to get the qualification, and then they can’t get into a tertiary programme of study or they can’t get employment because they’ve done the wrong credits that make up the qualification. The current government are so obsessed with a very narrow range of things around literacy and numeracy, that they’ve actually ignored the fact that we need kids who have got a much broader range of skills than that. They’re refining an education system for the last century, not for the current and for the future. The future is actually about those transferrable skills. It’s about interpersonal skills. It’s about problem-solving skills. It’s about the ability to collaborate.
NIKKI The reality is we’re investing more than ever in trades academies. Thousands of young people are going through trades academies. That is helping Maori and Pacifica students. We absolutely believe in that diversity. But the reality is Labour’s tertiary policy, they are picking winners--
CHRIS The tertiary policy applies to everybody, including those going to on-job training, something the National government hates and have completely abandoned.
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