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The Level Playing Field

Our position on the funding review

The notions of giving people a fair go and starting on a level playing field are still central to our understanding of what makes our unique version of democracy. We don’t like to see people being disadvantaged through no fault of their own. We believe in merit and working hard, but we understand some groups face more challenges than others, and we factor this into our planning and decision-making.

I believe the teaching profession has always mirrored these beliefs and that while we see ourselves as professionals, many of us also see teaching as a vocation. We teach because we genuinely want to help New Zealand children get the best start in life through the transformative power of education.

The Education Council has taken a strong position on the review of how we fund our schools for this reason. We support that moral premise that teachers hold true, that that no child should be disadvantaged in a school or early childhood setting. All young people deserve the same access to opportunity – to start out on a level playing field.

That said, we are optimistic this is the prevailing view and that we all stand together on this – teachers, the Government, the Ministry of Education, and other professional representative groups. We are actively seeking your views on the funding review and, given the feedback we have already had, we are confident they will broadly align with the position we have taken already.

Here’s what we’ve said are our key principles:

First, we said we should look to what is working in similar jurisdictions overseas and learn from them while being careful to keep what is working in our system.

Then we said we don’t want the changes to result in resources moving away from qualified teachers because we know that quality teaching makes the biggest positive impact on lifting the achievement of students. So any new model should maintain, or improve, the ratio of qualified to non- qualified teachers – this applies mainly to the early childhood sector. On a similar point, we don’t want to see trade-offs being made between funding certificated teachers and either unqualified teachers or other non-teaching resources.

We also believe we need to address some fundamental supply and demand issues. Our paper Strategic Options for Developing Future Orientated Initial Teacher Education looks at that too, (read it here) but workforce planning is also a collective responsibility. A new funding model gives us an opportunity to consider how we might incentivise a more planned approach to the recruitment, employment and ongoing development of the profession.

Empowering principals and school leaders is another one of our important principles. We believe we will strengthen the leaders of schools and centres by strengthening their understanding and practice of leading learning in their context, and across the system.

The other side to this is we should not create a funding model that requires all principals, and other leaders, to invest even more time than they do now into managing money and resource allocations.

We believe schools and centres need the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of learners – that means those who are making the resourcing choices are fully informed to do so. And finally we want genuine engagement in the process – that means it’s going to be important to use the knowledge and experience of the advisory group to inform decisions.

We are seeking your views. You can email us on feedback@educationcouncil.org.nz and we will get back to you.

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