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Nats’ education plans make sense after all

Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, August 11th, 2012 - 33 comments
Categories: education, national, schools - Tags: , ,

The apparent incoherence of National’s position on national standards has been bugging me. They claim that the standards will improve outcomes and are so crucial that schools must be forced to use them whether they want to or not. Yet strangely they aren’t crucial for charter schools at all. These schools are supposed to improve outcomes too but they’re allowed to opt out of standards. Blatantly inconsistent (how do they get away with it?).

Well I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake, but pondering a bit further it makes perfect sense after all. Here’s how it works.

The Nats claim that the good parents of [insert region here] are “desperate” for league tables. Against all advice they push ahead with providing such tables (even though they admit that the data is unreliable). Those schools that teach to the test (or juggle the books) most successfully will score well, low decile schools will score poorly, the rest in between. Some parents will be influenced by the league tables, and so of course

A Waikato education leader says parents choosing schools based on National Standards data will create “ghetto” and “magnet” schools, further widening the gap between achievers and those falling behind.

Obedient schools will be rewarded (never mind that the real quality and breadth of education has suffered). Disobedient and low decile schools, will be punished, accused of failing. What do we we do with failing schools? Why – we privatise them!

Using the charter schools “trial” programme as precedent, there will be a process of privatising large numbers of “failing” state schools. Public money will flood into the hands of private suppliers. And will these second generation charter schools do any better? That’s the real beauty of it! The Nats can claim anything they like, because charter schools don’t need to report on national standards. They cannot be compared. They can be both cash cows for the private sector and invisible ghettos for the poor…

“Clever”, isn’t it.

33 comments on “Nats’ education plans make sense after all”

  1. captain hook 1

    curioser and curioser…

  2. Tracey 2

    I’d like to see the Govt force any private school which receive a single dollar of tax payer money, publishing their statistics in particular in relation to the much touted Cambridge.

    “Using the charter schools “trial” programme as precedent, there will be a process of privatising large numbers of “failing” state schools. Public money will flood into the hands of private suppliers. And will these second generation charter schools do any better? That’s the real beauty of it! The Nats can claim anything they like, because charter schools don’t need to report on national standards. They cannot be compared. They can be both cash cows for the private sector and invisible ghettos for the poor…”


  3. Dr Terry 3

    I dare say a lot of people are going to be taken in by the crafty strategy.

  4. Phaedrus 4

    That is indeed the model being applied in England. As that the present Secretary of Education worked on this in England in her field of expertise, who is surprised that its coming here? The plan was obviously well developed before the election, given that she was appointed last July. So much for it being part of the agreement with Banks. Don’t believe any of the spin – this is part of a much wider, long term plan to implement the disastrous schooling policies as found in the USA, and leading to the corporatisation of education to add to their profit stream.

    • seeker 4.1

      A defining comment Phaedrus. This is exactly as it is . Cannot find the link to a Guardian article about just this very thing happening in Hackney, East London a couple of months ago. Many parents were up in arms that a secondary school was about to be turned in to an “academy” (the English preferred term for ‘charter schools” ), even though it was beginning to flourish again after a poor Ofsted (ERO) report. Kiwis should be very afraid. Charter Schools are a real ‘social engineering’ scam for profit by big business/corporates imo.
      And certainly nothing to do with the good of our children .

      • seeker 4.1.1

        Lots of oopses today. The aricle I read was in The Independent (not The Guardian) in May when I was reading about the Leveson inquiry from links from The Standard. Have looked but still can’t find it. Have no more time now.

  5. Di 5

    The NAct strategy is designed to introduce bulk funding of teachers’ salaries with performance pay and individual contracts.

    First move was the introduction of National Standards to produce “data” by which teacher “performance” can be “measured”, then new teacher appraisal systems with targets related to these Standards will follow and teachers will be assessed for their “performance” and paid accordingly.(Schools will also be “measured” and possibly funded related to the league tables.)

    Charter schools are designed to short-cut the process by starting off with individual teacher contracts and therefore there is no need to bother with all the National Standards data by which to measure teacher performance.

  6. joe90 6

    Whatever could go wrong?.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t a scam that only targets the young and naive. The for-profit industry is so rife with deceit, it has been billed as the second coming of the mortgage-loan debacle. And the same people are behind it. Three-quarters of all for-profit students are enrolled at schools owned by Wall Street banks and private-equity firms.


    Consumer Fraud As a Business Model

    You might not know it, but you’re sitting on $117,000. That’s basically how much every American is potentially worth in government student aid. Want to attend grad school? Throw in another $114,000.


    The government ignores the problem at the country’s peril. Total student-loan debt, now more than $1 trillion, has surpassed credit card debt. These burdens will limit students’ ability to contribute to our consumer economy for years to come. Worse, unlike an underwater mortgage, Congress has made it illegal for people to walk away from student loans they can’t pay. The debt will follow them the rest of their lives.

    “This is basically a parasitic industry that is preying upon not just some of the most vulnerable members of our society, but the best of these most vulnerable members, people who listen to the rhetoric we feed them and who are actually attempting to better themselves,” Nassirian says. “This is an industry that takes people’s hopes and dreams and cashes them out.”

    And these people won’t stop until they’ve emptied the till.

  7. burt 7

    I’m so pleased that the hopeless teachers holding back the potential of our children will start to be identified. Hopefully we can get to a place where the good teachers are paid shit loads more than they are now and the hopeless teachers protected by the self serving unions get the message that their days of holding everyone down to their level are over.

    • Mel 7.1

      Poor Burt, you really have no idea about the realities of education and the impact of poverty that pervades the lives of our poor. If only it were as simple as you believe.

      The reality is that:

      1. Poverty is a key factor in NZs small tail (far less than the 1 in 5 spin of the Nact Govt) of educational achievement.

      2. Performance pay does not work for anything other than a simple mechanical task.

      3. The Govt is not proposing performance pay at the moment anyway.

      Burt, you might be surprised to find out that far from getting rid of any ‘inadequate’ fully trained teachers, the National Govt is proposing that charter schools are able to employ totally untrained teachers! So unfortunately your nightmare of children being taught by people who are hopeless is soon to come to fruition.

      Under the current system, fully trained and registered teachers are required to be assessed against a set of criteria each year. They have to assessed as achieving these to continue teaching. Under their new system of Charter Schools, untrained staff would be paid for doing something they are not trained to do.

      Oh, and by the way Burt, under the proposed system, education money will go to private organisations, who could hire untrained staff and lesser trained staff in order to pocket a tidy profit.

      • infused 7.1.1

        Performance pay works very well in IT.

        • KJT

          Doesn’t seem to work very well in Management.

          ENRON, Lehman bros etc. Anyone! POAL? Telecom?

          The success of most firms is in inverse proportion to management remuneration.

          “The corporations with the largest income gap between Directors/Managers and employees have proven to be the least functional”.

          Performance pay has proven problematic, even in business, for any tasks that cannot have one simple measure of success and require the co-operation of many.

          It seems strange that we are looking at performance pay for Teachers when top performing corporates are heading in the opposite direction.

          “On the face of it, It seems fair to reward people who perform better than others with more pay.
          If anyone can come up with a fair and valid performance measurement. Fine.
          However even in the private sector this is fraught with difficulty.
          Unless performance has a single clear measurement business has a poor record with targeting performance pay”.

          It seems that NZ Managers, Directors and Politicians can only be motivated by paying them, a lot!
          Teachers are best motivated by making their job impossible, micro-managing them and paying peanuts?

        • Mel

          @Infused – Watch the Dan Pink TED talk about the science of motivation to discover that performance pay doesn’t work, in any job, anywhere unless it is a simple mechanical task not requiring cognition.


    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      burt, why do you think that following an education policy that is actually far worse than the one we have will improve our education?

      • McFlock 7.2.1

        By Burt’s logic, he must have been failed by a legion of apathetic teachers settles in their sinecure ‘jobs’. 
        Either that or he’s just a moron that no teacher could imbue with basic comprehension skills.. 

  8. KJT 8

    NACT’s plans always made sense.

    When you remember that the only aim is to enrich them selves and their corporate funders/Masters at our expense.

    Everything they do is logically consistent with theft of the commons.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Everything they do is logically consistent with theft of the commons.


      Which is why we should stop saying that they’re incompetent as they’re not. They actually are implementing policies that will make NZ worse off on purpose.

  9. seeker 9

    +1 KJT. This comment makes perfect sense too-unfortunately for New Zealand.

    • seeker 9.1

      Oops, this should have been a “reply” to KJT’s 8 comment @ 4.44pm . Thought I had posted in the ‘reply’ section, don’t know what happened.

  10. Georgy 10

    This plan has been observed and written about on many facebook pages since nationalstandards were introduced.

  11. Observer AKL 11

    Anthony R0bins

    You correctly say that Key is dishing out Education to profit making corporations – who have no interest or expertise in the schooling of children. Their phony schools will be staffed by people who have No qualifications in Teaching, and they will be required to meet No Standards.

    Key’s own kids attend real schools, with real teachers, meeting real standards.

    Well, every so often you have to accept that our Parliament will end up with a low class, shoddy Prime Minister – shielded by the police, and accompanied by low achieving colleagues. A dump cluster.

    What I fail to understand is why the Opposition has not simply and clearly stated that on return to Government they will require the Shitty Charter Schools to employ highly qualified experienced Teachers, and require the schools to exceed the average education Standards; also, require that their Teachers be paid 30% more than those working in higher decile schools.

    This, is to ensure that the children in their care get what they need most – a worthwhile Education. Like Key’s kids.

    As with Asset sales, neither Labour nor the Greens have put any real pressure on the Key menagerie, let alone put pressure on the gleeful wealthy who think they are going to get more easy money from kiwi suckers.

    Thanks for your quality article Anthony. Do you think there is any chance of us getting a quality Opposition together – sometime?

    • r0b 11.1

      Thanks Observer. I think we’ll have a quality opposition and a government in waiting. We had that in 2011. We’ve got the wobbles a bit at the moment, but yes I’m confident we’ll get it sorted.

    • Niky 11.2

      @Observer AKL

      Great plan… Maybe you should join the opposition as shadow education minister.

      Your first paragraph states clearly what my colleagues and I think about charter schools. As a parent, I certainly wouldn’t want my child taught by an unqualified teacher with no real standards to meet or be appraised against.

      As a teacher, I don’t give a shit about performance pay. Most, if not all of my colleagues, including myself have 27-32 reasons to perform to the best of our abilities. We certainly earn our pay. However, we are sick of being told that we incompetent or only interested in pay, etc simply because we chose the teaching profession.

      • seeker 11.2.1


        ” Most, if not all of my colleagues, including myself have 27-32 reasons to perform to the best of our abilities. ”

        Perfectly put! Performance pay be hanged, this is what motivates a truly professional teacher and they are worth their weight in gold. I should know as I have been teaching for 40 years now.

        This sentence should be shouted from the rooftops.

        • KJT

          National, ACT and their cronies do not understand people who work for other than greed, for money or power.

          They sense they cannot control people who have other motivations, and it scares them.

  12. Evan 12

    The theory expounded here seems senseless to me, and that is why I believe it is the strategy being driven by this particular government!

  13. it’s so clear what they are up to, and yet so many people are not getting it… we should all make it our goal to explain this to at least 2 people per week and spread the word

  14. Observer AKL 14

    Dianne Khan

    A good and straightforward idea! I would never have thought of it.

    I guess this is the value of the forum we are on here. A chance to help clarify what Parliament is actually doing; and a chance to share practical ideas to assist ourselves and others to make a difference.

    So, thanks Dianne.

  15. Observer AKL 15


    Your comments are the distillation of your life’s Calling. Your words ring with the clarity of a timeless true Bell.

    I am not a Teacher but I know that it is the greatest and most important of all the Professions.

    We may die comfortably in the hands of a Nurse. But we live well through the knowledge passed on to us by the brigades of Teachers that have turned out faithfully for countless millennia.

    Doctors are the products not of machines, nor even of millions of money, but of Teachers. The same Teachers who give every willing child (backed by a supportive parent) a chance to make sense of the world and the skills to find a place within it.

    It is the first time in my life that I have called a Prime Minister “shoddy” and “low class”. But I have watched Key again and again label himself by needling and undermining the Teachers of New Zealand. Since his coming into power. There are no nice words to adequately describe his pitiful deconstruction. A school without Teachers and Standards is the confused outcome of a deranged mind. Nor is there an explanation as to why the Opposition is in a lifeless stupor and thereby accessories to Key’s nonsense.

    He is actively spreading an insidious poison that appears to come from deep within his troubled persona.

    If only for the worthy encouragement of graduates who are aspiring to enter your far from easy Profession, it is time that an Honourable man or woman from within Parliament stood up and put through a ringing vote of confidence in the Teachers of New Zealand. People in this country – and in many other countries – know that our Teachers are up there, individually, collegially and successfully, giving out the most vital substance a community can have.

    That “honourable” man or woman is not Mr Key.

    Niky on the good side, your work will by far out medal and out distance the brief destructive flicker of a disoriented politician. Let him and his grubby buddies on both sides of Parliament have their money. You hold the Treasure.

  16. Georgy 16

    The only purpose of national standards, charter schools and league tables is to set in motion the first steps to privatisation, with the biggest hurdle for the govt being teacher unions. Charter schools can employ who they like without regard to the collective agreement, including employing untrained personnel.

    The ultimate goal – bringing the cost of education down for the govt.

  17. Ianmac in Adulusia 17

    I have my eye on you Rob and you make sense- again. Would the grate leader be so devious? Yep!

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