We have received confirmation that the mega teacher strike is confirmed for May 29th. This means both primary and secondary teachers and primary principals across the country will be on strike.
I continue to be frustrated and saddened by the spin in the media - and from Chris Hipkins (Education Minister) around this issue. The minister just announced $95 million to attract new teachers. This is such a common marketing strategy. Offer a deal to get people to sign up - but don’t look after your existing customers! This $95 million to train new teachers does not stop the flood of teachers quitting. It does not solve the massive percentage of teachers who resign within the first 5 years. It does nothing to value our experienced, hard working teachers. It also does nothing to attract our top students to teaching - we want the best and brightest school leavers to be considering teaching!
Some of the issues that remain for us are:
Primary teachers get 10 hours a term release time. Secondary teachers get 5 hours a week. The lack of release time for primary teachers impacts on the teaching in the classroom - and our students deserve better!
Our collective agreement expired on the 8th of June 2018. The govt is refusing to back pay us if/when an agreement is reached. The govt offered primary teachers a $500 bonus to sign the agreement. They offered secondary teachers $1000.
Teachers should be paid the same for equal qualifications - regardless of the age of the students. The government is refusing to commit to pay parity.
The minister likes to talk about this being a ten thousand dollar payrise. Currently our beginning teachers spend a minimum of 3 years at university and then start on $47980. This offer gives them 3% straight away. So about $1400 before tax - or about $19 a week. This is one of the reasons we have a 40% reduction in people choosing teaching as a career.
Experienced teachers stand to get about $27 a week from this offer. Our agreement expired in June last year, but the Minister is refusing to offer backpay. Therefore - even if they accepted the $27 a week today - they have already lost somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 over the last year through this negotiation - both through strike days and no back pay. So in fact - if we signed today, it would take over a year for us to even make up what we’ve lost.
The support for learners with special needs - both learning and behaviour - is nothing short of pathetic. Limited release for primary teachers means they have no extra time to plan for these learners, or attend meetings, or support whanau.
When Hipkins was in opposition - he talked about how low teacher salaries are, and the need for drastic action in education. Now he is in power - he is facing the largest strike action in memory. All this on the eve of the announcement of their 'Wellbeing Budget"! National’s Nikki Kay is talking about how bad the situation is, and how teachers deserve a pay jolt - but it seems easy to say things in opposition and she forgets that nine years of Nationals neglect fro the public schooling sector has helped put us in this situation.
A decade ago we used to get a 100 applicants for a teaching job. Principals could choose the best candidates to meet the needs of their school. Now - we see vacancies having no applicants at all. We have classes being split because we can’t find a reliever. We see jobs being readvertised over and over again.
We have already battled this process for a year. It has cost teachers thousands - and we seem to have made little headway. We know it’s frustrating for parents - and we hear the messages from the Minister that try to turn the public against us. Please believe me that we are fighting for the education for your children. We have come too far to give up now.
I am forever hopeful that the government will finally be courageous enough to invest properly in education. Step outside the standard and really rattle the cage! Fund us so that we can be world class. Fund us so every student can get the best education possible.
So I understand that May 29th will be inconvenient. I expect it won’t be the last. Please continue to support us by going online and messaging anyone you can think of - Hipkins, Ardern - the Labour govt Facebook page - local MPs - anyone and everyone. Together let us be heard!
Earlier this term Kristin Mason - one of our Deputy Principals - submitted her resignation effective from the end of this year. Kristin has been on maternity leave this year and has recently made the choice to fully commit the immediate future to her children and family. Kristin has worked at Waipahihi School over the past 12 years and she has been a key part of the teaching and leadership team. I first met Kristin three years ago when she flew down to Invercargill with the then Board Chairperson, Kevin Insley, and Board member, Jackie Later as part of the Principal appointment process at that time. At that time, like today, I knew that if this school had the calibre of people at it like Kristin then it was a place that I wanted to be Principal at. Her passion for this school, its children, its community and the vision that she shared with me were a testament to her commitment to this school. I highly valued her support as a leader in where our school was moving and the way that she enabled those around her to be the best they could be.
Thank you Kristin for your personal and professional support over the last three years. We look forward to celebrating with you and the community next term to acknowledge your care and commitment to the Waipahihi learning community. We love that you have committed these all so important years to your beautiful young children. When you want to come back - let me know!
We want to ensure schooling at Waipāhīhī is relevant, effective, and powerful, for the children of today. The shift in the use of our physical space and in the educational understandings of how children learn best underpins this. It is evident in the way our teachers are teaching and our classroom spaces are being used. Improving the learning of our learners is the primary goal and there are a number of initiatives that are working towards this. In visiting our classrooms you will see less closed doors, children moving fluidly across traditional classroom boundaries, teachers collaborating in their teaching, and students begining to self regulate and manage their learning, with expectations and support appropriate for their 'age and stage'.
Our focus at Waipāhīhī is to adaptively change our teaching and learning practices (pedagogy) to ensure we are best meeting the needs of children in the 21st century. Most parents today were in school when the teacher directed the learning and the students did as they were told. Chalk and talk was the medium, there was little technology. Today classrooms look, feel and function quite differently :
"During the 20th century, the concept of learning underwent important developments. This shift is reflected in the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum which is to develop students with lifelong learning competencies namely, relating to others, using language symbols and text, participating and contributing, managing self and thinking (Ministry of Education, 2007).”
Today learning is socially constructed and the environment plays a crucial role in what is learned and how the learning is experienced (Nuthall, 2007). Significant bodies of research on what improves learning, and landmark studies such as John Hattie’s Visible Learning (Hattie, 2008) mean that we now have a much better idea of how learning occurs. As a result of these developments and others, we know that quality learning is a combination of the following elements:
The role of technology is vital in each of the above as it puts the learner in control, and enables personalisation of the learning. In the 21st Century the impact of the internet, online collaboration and the access to knowledge have fundamentally changed learning by shifting accessibility. Students now want to control where they learn, what they learn about and how they learn. The traditional classroom is no longer the only place students go to learn as the ubiquity of technology has reinvented and accelerated the learning process (Care, Griffin & McGaw, 2012).
What does Collaboration look like?
The traditional view of teaching is one teacher with the sole responsibility for a classroom of children. Teachers often feel that their classroom is their own private island and each classroom is different to the next (Little 1990). There are few jobs in society that require an individual to work entirely on their own. Most jobs require communication with other individuals to ensure best practice. Cooperation amongst educators is essential to ensure there is continuity and cohesiveness within schools. Collaboration involves a greater partnership between educators.
Watkins (2009) distinguishes between cooperation and collaboration with the idea that cooperation implies individuals working together to achieve individual goals, while collaboration involves working together to achieve a group goal. As a school we are examining and exploring the ways in which collaborating with each other improves our learning and the learning of others. It’s not just about having open rooms, large spaces, and access to digital devices. Collaboration is about working with others to use strengths to accomplish goals. It’s about being part of a team, doing your part, and demonstrating commitment and perseverance. This way of working together allows children and adults to build a stronger and deeper understanding of concepts, as they are challenged, supported, and affirmed in collaborative environments. Learners can more ably identify their strengths, express their ideas, and build empathy towards others.
Our challenge as teachers in our school is to develop our abilities to set tasks and learning opportunities which teach and foster these skills. We are learning alongside the children in partnership with them.
Our staff are committed to working with each other as partners in learning. We need to ensure we have shared goals to improve the learning experiences of our children in what is a fundamentally different time where change is the only constant! This is not about changing things for change’s sake, but about finding better ways to engage with today’s students. Children are now part of a world which is increasingly technologically advanced. Communication and interaction is becoming shaped and dictated by our digital skills. Our digital initiatives and professional learning opportunities for staff are helping us to think about the ways in which we capture children’s engagement by using technology as a tool to deepen learning. They also help us to think creatively about the ways we use technology to be effective in helping children make connections in their own learning, and most importantly, make connections with others.
Changing practice within a building paradigm from the past!
Most of our school buildings were built in a time when direct instruction was considered the only pedagogy that resulted in effective learning. “Factory-style’ learning (where all students learn the same things, at the same time, in lock-step fashion) has largely disappeared from our classes. However the actual classroom layout largely remain as they were originally designed, and still retain the suggestion of factory-style learning. The collaborative practice inside our learning spaces is working to change that perception. We want our practice to define the space we have and not to let the space define our practice!
Our schools property plan focus for today and into the future requires us to be strategic with the intent of how we take our space development to a new level. As a school that is situated at one of the ‘growth ends’ of Taupo it is our responsibility to advocate and develop a plan that will see our whole school environment and site develop proactively to ensure we best meet the learning needs of the 21st century learners that are with us now, and, of those that are yet to come.
Through being innovative and creative in our thinking and design we will further support and strengthen the connection between our learning environment provocation and our pedagogical initiatives.
At the heart of it all is the desire to challenge our own practice so that each one of us innovates and changes what we do to meet the need of each and every learner that we work with. We want to give our Waipāhīhī kids every chance to enjoy, challenge and extend their thinking at every level. Strong collaboration amongst us all is a key part of ‘how’ we can make that happen.
After months of negotiations with the Ministry of Education, and more talks since the strike on August 15, we still have no new offer. Our union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, continues to negotiate in good faith, but the Government says it will take time to fix the issues. However, time is the one thing we don’t have. Around the country we’re seeing:
- 40% reduction in teacher trainees
- Zero applicants for some teaching jobs
- More children entering school
- More children with additional learning and behavioural needs
- Teachers are burning out and leaving the profession, often within the first five years of graduating
More tellingly, Education Council statistics showed the number of teaching graduates gaining their practicing certificate had decreased 32.5%, from 6249 in 2007 to 4217 in 2017. Over the same time, the number of teachers who did not renew their practising certificate within six years has increased 151.4%, from 2456 in 2007 to 6174 in 2017.
The staff at our school want your children to have the very best education we can provide. We’re standing firm in that commitment and believe the time is now to ensure that schools can offer every child the education and support they need, and that we have a sustainable teaching profession into the future.
We appreciate your support. We are hoping that continued negotiations next week will show some progress as there is growing anger among NZEI members that the Ministry's game plan appears to be about dragging out the negotiation process for as long as possible. Please talk to your child’s teacher if you have any questions, and consider signing this petition to the Minister of Education in support of teachers. https://campaigns.nzei.org.nz/time/petition-teachers-and-principals/
Our town is well served by a range of primary schools, our intermediate, two secondary's and recently (having just achieved full registration with the Ministry of Education, a private school. You may have read the article in last Thursday (August 23) Weekender titled "Special school achieves registration" that detailed some of the facts around how they operate. Our school has always supported the work that Gaye Vartiainen and her team have strived to provide for a range of learners needs. Both Gaye and I, alongside our respective staff teams, have a passion for doing everything we can to make learning relevant and appropriate for the children in our care on any given day. There's an old saying that "it takes a village to raise a child" and it is in that spirit that we openly sign the agreement to support the parental choice of a child attending one day or more as part of the programme that ADDI offer.
However, both places of learning operate under different conditions. To compare one against the other is not what this is about. ADDI charge fees and provide small, specialist learning groups. Waipahihi is an exceptional, mainstream, public primary school that provides an enriching and connected curriculum with a dedicated team of teachers. One cannot be compared to the other, however, both can be seen as a compliment to each other. It is in this spirit that we as a school are committed to continuing to build our working relationship with ADDI in the future. It is in this spirit that, if you as a parent are making a choice to include ADDI as part of the way you want to meet the learning needs of your child, we invite you to make sure that this is done in communication with your child's teachers. Together, we want the best for all our learners. Together, we can work together to compliment what each environment can provide.
Primary teachers and principals across New Zealand are currently negotiating their collective agreement with the Ministry of Education. An initial offer was brought to union members to consider, but it has been rejected. NZEI (the union for Primary Principals and Teachers) has surveyed their members and they have voted to have a full day strike on August the 15th.
The wider education sector is nearing crisis point. The major points around this are:
What are the they campaigning for?
In the last few weeks we have been confirming the staff structure for 2018 as some staff are leaving us at the end of this year. As informed in an earlier newsletter this includes Chanelle Wootton who is going on maternity leave for 2018 and Lisa Birchenough who is moving to a new position at Taupo Nui a Tia College.
Other changes include the news that; Jodie Appleton is moving to a new position at Mountview School, Jeni Shekell is retiring and Sarah Sheriff has accepted a new position at Hilltop School. I would like to thank each of these people for their professional contribution to our school and commitment over a number of years. There will be a full school assembly on Monday 18 December at 9.15 to farewell them appropriately from our school family. You are very welcome to attend.
With these changes we are delighted to have been able to employ experienced teachers to the following positions. All bring valuable strengths to our school culture.
Esther, who will be known to some of you as a parent at our school, comes from Reporoa Primary and brings strengths in leadership, literacy and oral language. Esther will be teaching in the Junior School alongside Jeff Diack, Susan Palmer and Kylie Parkes.
Cheyenne comes originally from Auckland, but more recently from Tauhara Primary, and brings strengths in digital fluency, formative assessment and learning support. Cheyenne will be teaching in one of our middle school teaching teams alongside Kim Stevens, Louise Goddard (Monday - Thursday) and Kim Colebrook (Fridays).
Carrie comes from Taupo Intermediate and brings strengths in digital technology and Science. Carrie will be teaching in our other middle school team alongside Hilary Sutton and Ian McCabe.
Louise has taught internationally and is a former maths and team leader and has experience teaching at all levels. She has most recently been with us in a variety of roles across our school as one of our part time release teachers. Louise will be working in the middle school teaching team alongside Kim Stevens and Cheyenne Campbell.
Debra moves from our junior team and will take on the leadership position vacated by Sarah Sherriff in the Yr 5 and 6 team. Debra brings a depth of experience teaching senior students and will lead Assessment for Learning across the school and will teach alongside Holly Murrell and Kylie Barbour.
Waipahihi School - 2018 teaching teams
Senior Team 1:
R1 - Jen Maloney - Leader
R3 - Pam Kerr
R4 - Megan Fraser
Senior Team 2:
R2 - Kylie Barbour
R5 - Debra Lynch - Leader
R6 - Holly Morrell
Middle Team 1:
R7 - Hilary Sutton - Leader
R8 - Carrie Fleury
R9 - Ian McCabe
Middle Team 2:
R13 - Cheyenne Campbell
R14 - Louise Goddard (Fridays - Kim Colebrook)
R15 - Kim Stevens - Leader
Junior Team 1
R16 - Kylie Parkes
R18 - Susan Palmer
R19 - Esther Beattie
R20 - Jeff Diack - Leader
Junior (New Entrant) Team 2
R11 - Fiona Griffin
R12 - Jane Low
Beth Wills - Leader
2018 Start of Year dates
The start of year information for our families and the dates for our staff professional development are below. To assist with your forward planning, here are some key dates for Term 1.
There will be two Teacher Only days in February where the school will be closed to students
- Monday February 5th and Friday February 16th.
These dates have had to be organised around the availability of external professional providers. We hope that by placing them alongside a public holiday or a weekend that they are as inconvenient as possible. Nearer the time, we will provide further detail on how Youth Town (after school care) can help provide you with a daycare option if needed.
2018 Start of Year details are:
Term 1 - First day of School for children - January 31 (Wednesday)
Whole Staff Teacher Only Day
Monday February 5 (the day before Waitangi Day - Tuesday 6 February - school is closed)
Children back on Wednesday 7 February
Whole Staff Teacher Only Day - Friday February 16 (school is closed)
Easter (during the school term) - Friday 30 March to Tuesday 3 April - a reminder that Easter Tuesday is a public holiday
Term 1 ends - Friday 13 April
Our Board of Trustees sets the strategic direction for the school. From the end of 2015, and right into this year, there has been significant re visioning (involving parent, student, and staff feedback), which has led to a new school wide vision.
This vision, and the story of our place that supports it, provides the foundation from which our core beliefs can be developed and enhanced by the key principles and practices that example it.
This vision 'revision' has led to a few significant changes, most obvious in terms of teacher practice becoming more collaborative, our curriculum approach given more breadth, and the increase in use of digital technology. These are supported by the Strategic Aims of the school that are set, or confirmed, annually by the board.
Our school opened in the early 60's and since then we had been a very good traditional school, but if we kept on doing what we were doing, there was a danger of this….
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them the future.” - John Dewey
The world is rapidly changing, and schools are tasked with trying to prepare students for a very uncertain future. The reality is that the “basics” of education are now far more than reading, writing and maths. It now also include things like communication, teamwork, self-management, creativity, and critical thinking far more than the traditional workplace that our schooling system was set up to support. These are reflected in our school’s core beliefs Curiosity, Collaboration and Connection and in the core structure and intent of our flexible learning spaces and our collaborative teaching teams. We have a passionate staff that work hard together to make our curriculum and learning environment one that is relevant and interesting to our children. This is supported exceptionally well by the leadership of the Board of Trustees. We have a school to be proud of and yet we are always working together, and reflecting, to make it better!
The final steps of the journey...
The final editing of the logo image and catchphrase took into account the consultation we have undertaken over the past nine months or so with the different groups of our school community. From parents, to students, to staff, to cultural considerations and to our learning philosophy, we have worked hard to finalise an image and 'catchphrase' that draws elements from all of these perspectives.
From the connection to the very name of our school, to the physical elements that surround our place, and how we are working to frame the learning environment for our children, we believe we have found a strong and powerful image and metaphor that will carry our school strongly into the future.
Our proposed logo draws on a number of elements. The three shapes represent our people, our land, and our place. ‘Our people’ is represented by the swoosh entering the reversed out koru (cooler blue – not yet warmed/changed by the warmer water – the school).
The reversed out koru is composed of ‘our land’ (symbolized by Mt Tauhara in green) and ‘our place’ (symbolized by the scorching waters). Together they form the koru shape – acknowledging the importance of both. The swoosh entering the koru also symbolizes the pathway.
The three shapes also link ‘loosely’ with the Maori proverb:
He aha te mea nui o te ao - What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata - It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
The name of our school is closely associated with the name of our local area, and needs to be representative of both this and of the carving that stands beside our actual school sign. By giving respect to these elements through the use of the correct name - ‘Waipāhīhī-a-Tia’ - we again acknowledge the connection to our place, our people and our land. Our name translate to ‘the place of scorching waters’ and along with the carving standing beside it acknowledges Tia, who has both a prominent place in the whakapapa of our whole area, and in the korero of our school (as he was gifted to the school by a whanau to symbolise the kaitiaki or guardianship that the school had provided for their children/grandchildren).
In coming up with the finalised 'catchphrase', we wanted to strongly link the imagery that our school name means around 'scorching water' and the learning that takes place at Waipāhīhī. “Immersed in Learning” is a broad statement to represent the ‘bigger picture’. “Immersed” means involving oneself deeply in a particular activity. In this case, the activity is learning and it’s deep learning. Surface retention of facts and figures that are rote learned in formal transitional learning environments are not enough anymore. To be successful in this century we need to know how to take some knowledge, connect it to new ideas and to take it deeper.
'Immersed in Learning' ties in nicely with our core learning beliefs (Curiosity, Collaboration & Connection) that are then exampled through our key principles and practices that underpin our teaching and learning philosophy.
Change, Innovation and disruption...
Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to attend a symposium in Christchurch that was looking at the exponential change we are all facing in our lifetime, both personally and professionally, in whatever industry we work in.
The three big questions that we were left to ponder over the three days was:
1. What industry am I really in?
2. What industry will my disruption come from?
3. What jobs will humans always be better at than technology?
Then below, shows how it's hard to see the upcoming curve when standing on the precipice - just before exponential growth kicks off!
Check out the gallery below for some snapshots of some of the key messages that were delivered over the course of this mind blowing event..