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Polly Parata

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 am, June 1st, 2012 - 69 comments
Categories: budget2012, education, Hekia parata, john key, national, schools - Tags:

Hekia Parata is demonstrating to the utmost the limitations of rote learning, and the way political lines endlessly repeated can go horribly wrong if you have nothing else to say. Her Polly Parrot repetitions are wrongly-based, and the longer she and Key go on about how cutting teachers and increasing class sizes is going to improve the quality of teaching and produce better learning outcomes for students the worse it its going to get for National.

Arguing that teacher numbers have increased ahead of student numbers is in itself a vindication of past policy aimed at  improving the quality of teaching. Teachers have more time to prepare and more time to give individual attention to students – better learning – and better teaching – is the result.

Parata calling the government’s initial backdown  good news was extraordinary. However she has galvanised and united the education sector, principals, trustees, unions and parents. More backdowns are likely, both in policy and politics.

69 comments on “Polly Parata ”

  1. felix 1

    Who handed her this shit sandwich? Hard to believe she buttered it all by herself.

    • Eddie 1.1

      a neat little mixture chamber of Nat ideologues, Treasury officials, and the Nats’ imported English secretary of education who had implemented the same mistakes over there. Cooked up over the heat of Parata’s overwhelming arrogance.

      • Tom Gould 1.1.1

        The standard equation: fewer teachers plus bigger classes plus less money = quality education.

    • Dr Terry 1.2

      Felix, we know who is the boss and who has buttered this poisonous sandwich!

  2. Gosman 2

    Wasn’t the Government meant to back down over National Standards after pressure from those same groups? How did that campaign go?

    • Logie97 2.1

      … funny you should say that Gosman. The government may have unwittingly given the schools a uniting reason to reassess just what they do for the ministry. If you believe that National Standards are now well bedded you are deluding yourself. And this may just be the catalyst for schools to abandon them as well. Talk it up mate, the troops are beginning to revolt.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        So you think this will become a wider revolt against the Government’s education policy do you?

        Fascinating. I always enjoy watching leftist over reach.

        • muzza

          Up early today G..

          Here is something to remember….You are not winning by your online attitude, which I guess reflects at least some of your true self, either that or you are desperate for work….

          Anyway Gosman, attitudes like yours and those who take any side of the left right scam, are simply part of the problem, which is that governments have become corrupted. There is no right or left, only a deliberate mess, and theft of democracy, with all that negativity associated which is ruining our country.

          Does it make you proud to be part of the problem Gosman, does it make you feel like you are a winner?

          Maybe think about where this country is heading, then try evaluate the energy your role in it creates!

          • Gosman

            A rant about how you feel everything is screwed and why doesn’t everybody see it your way. Is that the best you can do muzza?

            I obviously reject your ideologically biased view of the world. People are allowed to disagree. It is called freedom of expression and thought. Get used to it.

        • Dr Terry

          Gosman would also get a kick out of watching anarchy and revolution, I should imagine. But he is right inasmuch as principled people must exercise patience in a tough slog. The time will arrive when justice is seen to be done.

          • Gosman

            Revolution is indeed a fascinating subject for me, or to be more precise the outcomes of a revolution. Interestingly many revolutions against regimes perceived to be right wing tends to have outcomes which lead to extreme left wing or even more conservative dictatorships. The French, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, and Iranian Revolutions are examples of this. Even the current moves in the Arab world are in danger of leading to more reactionary regimes.

          • Greg

            Yes – the day the teacher / principal unions finally disappear from the scene will be a very sweet one indeed.

            • Logie97

              You would include the EMA, Business Round Table, Chambers of Commerce, then?

        • redman

          I hope this will be the start of a revolt against the whole National Government. Attack education is just one part of how they are putting the boot into everyone, except Keys rich mates.

  3. I too wonder whether ‘Polly’ has handed the education unions the perfect opportunity to not only batter the Government over the Budget bungles and threats to teacher numbers, Intermediate school-programme losses and ECE cuts, but every other change to education National has brought in since it took power, including and especially, national standards. Parata, and the National caucus that gave the seal of approval to her actions, has presented the people of New Zealand with a picture they don’t like; that of privilege. Private schools, with their lower class numbers, and State schools, crowded ‘for their own good’. I sense uprising.


    • Gosman 3.1

      So why couldn’t they oppose National Standards on their own then? Why do they need a range of policy changes to get ‘angry’ enough?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        They did oppose National Standards on their own it’s just that the continuing attacks that NACT are on education are making it obvious that they’re making it so that things are good for the rich and bad for everyone else. Especially when John Key himself prefers smaller classes.

      • North 3.1.2

        Stupid irrelevant question G-Man.

        This is an issue which is so clear, so obvious. They’ve overreached themselves terribly this time……reflecting the same portentous arrogance as you display.

        Fireworks G-Man .

      • henry olongo 3.1.3

        The difference between this & the NS business is that in brings the NZEI & PPTA shoulder 2 shoulder Gosman. Have a think about it- if NACT & cronies couldn’t beat MUNZ, AFFCO how they hell they gonna stare down PPTA…?
        Good eh.

  4. Adrian 4

    Who is Lesley Longstone the Secretary for education? She is obviously English, has she been bought in just recently to bring in these changes because the previous secretary wouldn’t do it? If that’s the case these changes have been secretly planned over the last few years. Does anyone know the backstory to her appointment?
    If we of the left want to change perception of this Nat government we need to push the line that John Key and the Nats just don’t like you.

    • Gosman 4.1

      Ooooooooh! A leftist created conspiracy theory. I do so enjoy one of those.

      I wonder how do you think those evil Nat’s got the State Service Commission in on this one?

      • Dr Terry 4.1.1

        Gosman, are you implying that you are a rightest conspirator? Tut, tut, very nasty.

      • Murray Olsen 4.1.2

        Stop dribbling Gosman. The NAct government obviously headhunts bureaucrats who are ideologically inclined to help enact their attacks on everyone except their rich mates. Where on earth do you get a conspiracy theory from?

    • Eddie 4.2

      yes. longstone was a deputy in the english ministry, responsible for bringing in charter schools

  5. Tangled up in blue 5

    What annoys me is how National has tried to frame the discussion around it being a choice between kids having a bigger class with a better teacher, or a smaller class with a worse teacher.

    How about having better teachers without increasing class sizes?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 5.1

      How about the phrase “better teachers” is a dog whistle? Hidden subtext: teachers aren’t good enough.

      Reality check: OECD PISA scores.

      • Bob 5.1.1

        I guess there will be bad teachers but I’m sure that in % no’s there are more bad or inadequate ministers of finance in this govt

  6. Adrian 6

    Who pays you Gosman?

    • Gosman 6.1

      The Private sector. Who pays you Adrian?

      • bbfloyd 6.1.1

        the “private sector” aye gossamer? these wouldn’t be the same private”consultants” that this excuse for a government relies on to think for them is it? the same ones who would think nothing of resorting to misinformation, and sabotage to achieve the goals nationals bosses have?

        so now we have to have paid stooges cluttering up these columns to stifle debate? that really is rather nasty little gossamer……what kind of person takes money to attempt to sabotage democratic debate……… someone without a shred of moral fibre? someone with serious emotional imbalances? maybe just a psychopath?

        So… do those pieces of silver feel heavy in your pocket?

        • Gosman

          What the heck have you been smoking ???

          • mike e

            your ass gos

          • bbfloyd

            never mind young fella… you don’t have to panic just because i accidentally exceeded your reading comprehension level……

            not surprising that you react with such mock shock… seems i hit a nerve…… do you have your own SS uniform as well? have i inadvertently uncovered a rabid fascist?

            also not surprising….. nationals support base has always contained healthy numbers of fascists, disguised as simple rednecks with racist tendencies…..

      • Murray Olsen 6.1.2

        That’d be the reason they needed more tax breaks and corporate welfare then. They should pay someone competent.

    • felix 6.2

      lol you do have to be quite specific in your questioning though, Adrian.

      Like remember how the Slater child said he wasn’t paid by Ports of Auckland? And how it was technically correct because being paid by by a consultancy/PR firm engaged by PoA isn’t exactly the same?

      Mind you from what I hear he didn’t end up being paid what he wanted in the end due to the dissatisfaction of the client with the services rendered.

  7. Tangled up in blue 7

    Depends on who’s saying it.

    I’m sure a lot of people would like teachers to be even more skilled and be paid a lot more. This doesn’t necessitate the view that “teachers aren’t good enough”.

    edit: @ Kotahi Tane Huna

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.1

      If you would prefer the debate to deal with facts, it is better not to frame it in the language of lies.

  8. Adrian 8

    How’s this for a conspiracy story then? The ONLY political story on Stuff is about those dastardly sneaky Greens collecting signatures for the asset sales petition.
    Key and his coattail klingons are looking more and more like Hogans Heroes, “I see nuthing” .

  9. fabregas4 9

    And radio live’s story about “an educational expert says that we must not lose sight of the real issue being quality education ” John Langley who heads Cognition Education – who surprise surprise are heavily involved in teacher professional development contracts with the government. Where were the real educational experts?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      So they have the details of quality improvements at hand ?

      They havent a clue .

      This is what should have driven any changes if that was their intention- but of course it isnt.
      The quality angle is just a cover

    • Vicky32 9.2

      John Langley who heads Cognition Education – who surprise surprise are heavily involved in teacher professional development contracts with the government.

      In 2009, I missed out on an  admin job with these clowns… Maybe I dodged a bullet?

  10. ad 10

    This will take Labour-Greens together 2 points clear of National in the next poll – mark it here.

    Key will have to do a real sized reshuffle in January if he is to have any chance. She is as tone-deaf as Treasury were with the policy in the first place.

  11. Dv 11

    Langston on morning report saying LEADERSHIP is important.

    Glad to hear that. Perhaps the MOE are illustrating the model of leadership they require.

    Still interesting they are still parroting that the SMALL increase would not be a problems. BUT the numbers I have seen modeled put 35 to 40 into classes.

    That will not allow quality teaching.

  12. fabregas4 12

    The Ministry of Education were bottom of last years government department ratings. The leadership, to be fair not the new Secretary, was also highly criticised. Right now they spend an amazing amount of time on hasselling schools. Charter documents now go through five pairs of hands before being signed off as each of the 2000 odd documents work there way through a fine tooth comb that catches little that is important to kids or the day to day running of the school. Annual reports are getting the same treatment now too!

    • ianmac 12.1

      fabregas4: Any light on this?
      The previous Minister of Education said during the National Standards debate, that $30 million dollars were set aside for programs to assist the children who were underachieving. What happened to that promise? How is that money being spent?

      And the argument from the current Minister is that larger class sizes are needed as payoff for increased quality of teaching.
      Just what will be done with that money to achieve the improved quality of teaching? There are over 50,000 teachers. Are they going to give them a heart to heart telling off? Are they going to send that number of teachers back to Teacher Training?

  13. Hilary 13

    The DomPost mentions that the Minister reportedly got a standing ovation from Wellington Secondary principals at their meeting yesterday. Can’t imagine the Wellington secondary principals I know of doing this at this time, but maybe someone has some insider information. She is clever and she may have concentrated on something very secondary school friendly – eg promising to build them all new schools. The primary and secondary sectors are not always united and most of this government’s cuts have been aimed at early childhood and primary.

    • bbfloyd 13.1

      logically…. that would have to be a twisting of the truth……. it isn’t rational to have one group of principals standing and cheering the minister when the rest of the countries teacher/principles are so vehemently opposed to what amounts to an attack on our children on behalf of the nations millionaires …..

      If the fourth estate is prepared to go this far to protect a self serving vassal doing others bidding… then we are in for the fight of our lives….

    • Murray Olsen 13.2

      Which private Wellington secondary school principals were those?

    • martin 13.3

      I see you have followed this up in a new post today. It did sound very odd about the Wellington principals giving her a standing ovation. I see now that they were just being polite which sounds much more likely.

  14. Pascal's bookie 14

    Here’s Peter Dunne being all upset for the media and promising to get to the bottom of things and sort it all out:


    Compare to what he’s been saying about teachers on twitter:


    What an arse that man is.

  15. captain hook 15

    she is just another lite weight drawn to the flame and soon to be consumed by the fires and ashes of defeat and ignominy.

  16. DH 16

    I was just reading Farrars commentary in the Herald, I reckon the Standard could have some fun pulling his spin apart. He seems to get desperate when his beloved Nats are being bagged, his arguments are usually terrible on those occasions. Check this out from his commentary;

    “The Grattan Institute in Australia has calculated that a 10 per cent increase in teacher effectiveness would add $90 billion to the Australian economy. As a contrast they note a 41 per cent increase in funding to reduce class sizes over the decade to 2006 saw no real improvement in student performance. In fact reading performance declined.

    “…..There is in fact a wealth of evidence that teacher quality has a far larger impact on educational outcomes than class sizes.”

    “One of the world’s top educational economists, Eric Hanushek, has done a study of 277 different studies on class sizes. 72 per cent found no statistically significant impact on educational outcomes with reduced class sizes, 15 per cent found a positive impact and 13 per cent a negative impact.”

    To recap there, he’s arguing that a lower class size brings no meaningful benefit.

    And here’s his next argument…

    “Reports cited by the New Zealand Treasury have concluded a high performing teacher, compared to an average teacher, is equivalent to a ten pupil decrease in class size. ”

    So if the first argument is true then a high performing teacher will therefore have no statistically significant impact on educational outcomes. Both of his arguments can’t be correct, they contradict each other. Maybe he needed a smaller class when they taught him logic.

    His commentary here;


  17. Plan B 17

    Sell the playing fields!
    They did that in Britain as well.
    Importing an English Head of our Education Department is like importing an Englishman to coach the All Blacks, you could do it, but what is the point, we on another planet compared with England in Rugby and Education. In both areas we are world class and they are just class ridden.

  18. Plan B 18

    In 2011 according to The Guardian Lesley Longstone was on 139,000 pounds for her job in the UK

    64 Lesley Longstone Director General Education IFD Infrastructure and Funding Directorate £139,999

  19. Mike Smith 19

    David Farrar’s up in Auckland watching fantails and dosing on espressos, no doubt doing some urgent polling.


    Hopefully he’ll put the arguments in his column to the respondents. Mind you, he didn’t sound too confident when asserting that most New Zealanders would agree that teacher performance was more important than class size. It will be interesting to see how that is spun.

    • Rodel 19.1

      Mike Smith……It’s evident from that twaddle that Farrar is as retarded as he sounds on radio. Wouldn’t last 2 minutes in a classroom of kids and has a shallow understanding of eduction.
      Beggars belief that anyone ever takes any notice of his inane views.But hey.. does anyone?

  20. Scintilla 20

    Why would our best teachers stay here to be treated with such contempt, when Australia will pay $100k base salary? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-09/wa-teachers-get-new-pay-deal/3722604

    I taught four classes today – the class sizes were 30 (yr 11 drama), 29 (Yr 9 English), 17 (yr 12 drama) and 8 (Yr 9 English). The 17-sized yr 12 drama class is pure luck, that’s the number of students taking drama at that level. It could easily be 27 or more. The interesting one is the 8-sized English class at Yr 9. See, that’s a low-band class, special-needs around behaviour, intellectual ability etc. These kids are very volatile and require lots of individual attention, a teacher AND a teacher aide. At year 12, a class of 12 -14 such students requires a teacher and TWO teacher aides. In order to have those low class numbers, other classes have to be bigger. Hence, the other Yr 9 English class has 29.

    As for streaming – a lot depends on school size. A small secondary school (less than 300-400) may well have smaller class sizes, but the range of abilities within the class will be much wider. It’s a very clever teacher who can hold the attention of the very bright and the barely literate at the same time. Current teacher training focuses on that dilemma by encouraging a lot of group learning, co-operative learning and “differentiation” which basically is structuring the topic into, eg: 3 levels for your students. Everyone should achieve the lowest level, whilst aiming for a higher one, which also ensures the brighter sparks get a chance to shine too. Not easy to do in a large class or one that has a few stroppy, uncooperative, disruptive students. The hardest thing is sorting out individual achievement in group-work. Who is coasting and letting the bright spark do all the work?

    • North 20.1

      You must appreciate Scintilla that your coal face experience in education is meaningless.

      What is meaningful is the government’s fearless response to the poor quality of NZ teachers.

      It beats me that the government didn’t kick off their drive to answer this “problem” with a damning,
      already-written, teacher-demonising report over the name of Dame Margaret Bazely or some other overpaid, semi-retired stooge.

      Just as they did with Legal Aid.

  21. redman 21

    This Govt. is one of the most anti education Govts I have ever seen. First the ram through a one size fits all NS system that will do nothing to raise the learning of kids. They have told lie after lie about the 20% of students who are “failing”, they have lied about teacher quality, they have lied about our international rankings. They have slashed ECE funding, and now they are trying to tell us that larger classes will be a good thing for kids – even though all their kids go to school with small class sizes.

    Time to rise up me doth think.

  22. Georgy 22

    “How about having better teachers without increasing class sizes?”

    This has been clearly demonstrated under literacy and numeracy professional development programmes run in individual schools.

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