Documents reveal school system revamp

by Catherine Woulfe / 06 February, 2013
Bulk funding and performance pay could improve student performance, say internal Ministry of Education documents released to the Listener.
Hekia Parata and John Key
Photo Ross Setford/NZPA

The Ministry of Education has mapped out sweeping changes to the way schools and teachers are paid.

An internal draft discussion document reveals proposals to shift to performance pay for teachers, and return to bulk funding of schools.

The document also criticises the New Zealand education system, boards of trustees and teachers.

It says that while expenditure has doubled in real terms over the last decade, student performance in international benchmarking tests “stagnated or declined over the same period”.

Boards have “highly variable” capability, the document says.

On teachers, it says:

“The current variability in the quality of teaching presents a significant barrier to ensuring that all students have the chance to succeed at school.”

In future teachers should be judged and “held to account” on the achievement of students rather than how disciplined their classes are, it says.

“The challenge is enormous.”

The draft discussion document was drawn up in May 2012 and released to the Listener under the Official Information Act.

This document actually uses the phrase “bulk funding”, while older papers released by Treasury to Radio New Zealand dance around the controversial term.

Bulk funding is when schools are given a lump sum to spend on teacher salaries, as part of their operational grant. It was phased out in 1999.

Teachers are now paid centrally, and their salary depends on their experience and any management roles they take on.

The document proposes to “redesign” remuneration to give principals more discretion over salaries. This would allow them to give teachers rewards and “incentives to drive desired behaviour”.

A memo accompanying the document suggests a Cabinet policy decision on the moves could come late this year.

The document was released to the Listener under the Official Information Act and can be read below:

For full screen mode of the document, click here
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