President’s Reports

NZATE President’s Annual Report 2016 

 Presented at the July AGM 2016

E aku nui, e aku rahi, rau rangatira ma, tena koutou katoa 

Nau mai, haere mai, haere mai.

I’m proud to present the Association’s 36th report on the work of NZATE at this our 36th conference, in the company of so many of my colleagues.

Our advocacy role and issues facing English

Today, I want to focus on the future of Professional Learning and Development, and specifically what might lie ahead for subject specific PLD.

There will be major changes to how PLD is offered next year.

The official website for the new system (http://services.education.govt.nz/pld ) states:  “We are changing PLD – what it is focussed on, who delivers it, and how schools, Kura and Communities of Learning can access it. The changes will be phased in over two years. We’re working with a wide range of sector representatives to implement the new approach to PLD.” So far, those sector representatives have not included anyone from your subject association. Further, the website states that: The changes are aimed at making centrally funded PLD more effective, making a difference to student achievement in priority areas, supporting school leadership and strengthening professional networks as a complementary source of PLD (my italics), and that “Work to support leadership and professional networks is underway.” I have been engaged in discussion with representatives from the Secretary of Education’s office about what is intended by these statements, and have received the following

“The design for the new PLD system means that schools will be able to access centrally funded PLD from accredited suppliers. And as well as PLD from accredited suppliers, the PLD system will include supporting teachers to share expertise and grow professional practice – so the sector leading the sector. Sector representatives working with the MoE to design the new PLD system have proposed a “Networks of Expertise” (or NEX). This will be an online platform that includes a database of professional networks (including subject associations). The NEX will also include roles that will support people to connect with networks and support networks to develop – or strengthen – what they can offer the sector. The NEX isn’t intended to become a repository of subject matter expertise – that expertise should stay in the networks. Rather, the NEX will help strengthen networks and connect people to networks.

The thinking behind this proposal is based on ideas about knowledge mobilisation, Micheal Fullan’s work, and the OECD Innovative Learning Environments work.

What exactly the “strengthening” will look like hasn’t been determined yet. What’s proposed is that there will be a process for the sector to identify where stronger networks are needed or how strengthening a network will benefit the sector. A governance group (comprising educators, people working on the Network of Expertise, and MoE staff) will decide which networks to invest in strengthening.

We haven’t yet planned the detail for sector consultation. At the moment we’re working through the recommendations in the proposal and clarifying those, but we know we need to talk more broadly with the sector.” (Kirsty Farquharson | Senior Manager CTL)

So – in summary, what we do know is that decisions about most PLD will be Community of Learning or Kura based, and that we’ll still be able to potentially access centrally funded PLD. What we don’t know yet is what that centrally funded PLD will look like, specifically, or who will provide it. We also don’t know whether it’s intended that subject associations have a more prominent role in PLD than we currently do, or what ‘strengthening’ the association might look like. Further, we don’t know that the current national co-ordinator roles will survive in any form: a huge worry, as these people provide essential professional learning, challenge myths and misinformation and provide clarity and confirmation of all aspects of our practice There’s a real risk we’ll lose this nationally accessible and co-ordinated PLD. As a consequence of all these unknowns, it is vital that we all – every teacher, department and school – keeps up to date with changes and new information.

Lastly, we also know that, in order to meet Criterion 4 of the Practising Teacher Criterion, we need to “ demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice,” and so being part of the wider community of English teachers remains crucially important.

Membership 

Our membership has continued to increase: from 167 schools this time last year to 180 and from 681 magazines sent out to 818 this year.  Soon, we’ll ask you to ratify the new fees structure, which after trialling, we’ve amended to include non-membership options for University Libraries, and an option for very small schools.

Professional Development Initiatives  

We are moving to more website-based resources, available to members only, in 2017, beginning with a visual presentation resource, We’re also intending to explore the possibility of digitally publishing teacher inquiries and case studies in the same way. However, we’ll continue to offer our existing resources through the current channels.

(https://nzate.co.nz/resources-3/ )

Conference Scholarships  

This year, the recipients of the Scholarships for teachers in their first 5 years were:

Shani Els

Alex Jespersen

Margaux Powdrell

Amanda Yovich

This year we also, for the first time, offered scholarships for student teachers. The recipients were:

Kate Hoyle

Kirsty Worsnop

Brianna Baker

Conferences   

Next year we’re delighted that the Conference will be held at Waitangi. It is the smallest location for a conference we have ever used but a very special and significant one – since it was here that New Zealand’s central partnership was established: the partnership we in education are committed to honouring.  Watch for updates via facebook, the website, English in Aoteoroa and English Online

NZATE Council 

NZATE is a voluntary organisation, which is run by a nationally elected council drawn from all parts of the country. We continue to be extremely lucky to have a strong team of talented and experienced people on council.

The goals of NZATE as outlined in our objectives include: to promote the teaching of English, to act as a forum through conferences and publications, to speak authoritatively on behalf of members and to make appropriate representation on matters of concern related to the teaching of English. As a council, we meet face-to-face three times each year and continue to conduct much of our day-to-day business through email.

As usual, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of this group of your representatives. After this address, we’ll be farewelling some of these people.

Council Leadership 

Your National Council for 2015-2016:

Jo Morris, President

Helaina Coote, Vice-President

Karen Beaumont, Treasurer

Moira Scammell, Secretary

Jo Mullenger, representative for Otago/Southland

Alison Cleary, representative for Canterbury/ Upper South Island

Cornelios Floratos, representative for Wellington

Yvette Krohn-Isherwood, representative for Central North Island/Waikato

Katie Blackett, representative for Central North Island

Cynthia Orr, representative for South Auckland/Tai Tokerau

David Taylor, representative for Auckland

Steve Langley, English in Aotearoa Editor

2016 Election Results and Appointments
Position Nominated/Elected 
Vice President Helaina Coote
Treasurer Katie Blackett (Moved to this position from Central Regions Representative)
Secretary No nominations Renee Hutchinson has been co-opted
Auckland Rep David Taylor
South Auckland/ Tai Tokerau Rep Heemi McDonald
Wellington Representative Cornelios Floratos
Canterbury Representative Alison Cleary
Otago/ Southland Idoya Munn
English in Aoteoroa Yvette Krohn-Isherwood (Moved to this position from Central Regions Representative)
Central Regions Representative Belinda Develter Co-opted
Central Regions Representative Amy Price Co-opted

Our farewells and thanks to Steve Langley, Karen Beaumont, Moira Scammell, Cynthia Orr and Jo Mullenger who have all made huge contributions to the NZATE Council (Please see, below, the specific farewell addresses for each of these Council members).  It’s great to welcome Renee Hutchinson, Belinda Develter, Amy Price and Heemi McDonald and Idoya Munn to Council and to congratulate Yvette Krohn-Isherwood and Katie Blackett on their new roles.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment that all members of council demonstrate as they combine the demands of teaching and leadership within their schools and local communities, with their responsibilities on council. I am proud to be a member of this group, and applaud their professionalism, energy and commitment. Today, I’d like to especially acknowledge Helaina Coote for her ten years on the NZATE Council, first as regional representative, then as Treasurer, and now as Vice President.

English in Aotearoa 

We are very proud of our journal, which provides invaluable resources and PD in every issue. October will be the last issue for our wonderful current editor, Steve Langley Steve (and from next year Yvette) would love to hear from those of you with ideas for articles and resources that will appeal to classroom teachers.

PLD and Regional Associations 

It’s been great to talk to teachers at this Conference about the possibilities of new regional associations and opportunities to share PLD. Please contact your regional representative with issues, needs, concerns etc – you’ll find contact details here: http://www.nzate.co.nz/index.php/about-us

Resources and PD 

You can order resources here: http://www.nzate.co.nz/index.php/resources

NZATE exists for, and because of, its members and we urge you to share the benefits of membership of NZATE with those you know do not yet belong. It is crucial to the health of any organisation to have we members, with new ideas and perspectives, willing to share their experience and expertise. To this end, we continue to look for ways to actively engage and involve teachers newer to the profession in our work at national level. I urge all members to participate actively wherever possible, so that we can continue to support each other and respond to the issues and challenges that confront us all.

Kia ora koutou.

Jo Morris
President, NZATE


Farewell for Steve Langley 

Steve joined the NZATE Council in as editor for English in Aoteoroa. He inherited a faltering publication and has put his own stamp of intellectual rigour and good humour on it ever since. He’s been responsible for every aspect of the magazine from sourcing material, collation, layout and posting. Any of you who have helped with the publication of the school year book or student newspaper will know how very stressful and time consuming responsibility for a publication is – especially when you already have a more-than-full-time job, and Steve has overcome many challenges to ensure English in Aoteoroa arrives in our schools fully formed and on time – not least his wife Kate’s irritation at having the house full of back issues.

In addition, Steve has been an important part of the Council. His propensity to show up in a pirate costume, on his way to play in a pirate band, have enlivened meetings. More importantly, his wry and liberal voice, and his passionate conviction that people – and teenagers in particular – have value and are worthy of attention and support – have meant that he has been invaluable. We wish Steve well for his future endeavours, and thank him for his long service to English teachers of New Zealand.

Farewell for Moira Scammell

Moira has been the NZATE secretary for four years.  Over this time she has overhauled and rationalised the NZATE membership database which has allowed that information to inform important decisions about how the organisation responds to changing member needs.  This was a huge amount of work and leaves an important lasting legacy for NZATE.  Moira has also been amazingly efficient and reliable – the sign of a great secretary is surely that despite the enormous volume of work and tasks, nothing ever went wrong.  It has been an honour working with Moira and, with our our deepest gratitude, we wish her all the best for the future.

Farewell for Karen Beaumont 

Karen’s contribution to the wider community of teachers of English began as secretary and website manager for the 2006 conference and, from there, she became increasingly involved at a regional and national level.

She contributed to the Level One ‘new task’ resource, an early NZATE resource designed to support teachers with the new qualification system, NCEA.

In 2012, Karen was seconded as Regional representative for NZATE then her experience with running a small business was quickly seized upon. She assisted Helaina as treasurer towards the end of 2012, and took on the role of treasurer for NZATE’s 2013 conference, hosted in Hastings.

By 2013, Karen was elected as NZATE treasurer and she has been instrumental in bringing the financial side of our association out of the 19th century. Her steady hand and her ability to make sense of numbers has been hugely appreciated and, thanks to her, accounts are now computerised and managed in a much more effective manner.

Farewell for Cynthia Orr 

We have been very lucky to have Cynthia on the Council for two years. She’s provided links to the wider community of English teachers through her work as National Coordinator for English, and has fostered and developed the Tai Tokerau part of her region to the point where teachers there are hosting the next Conference.  We have appreciated her willingness to challenge ideas, to take the lead on issues that face the English teachers’ community and to be there to provide debate and questions. Her current work on the Visual Presentation resource will be a valuable legacy for her time on Council.

Farewell for Jo Mullenger 

Jo has served on Council for two years as Otago/Southland representative, but her commitment to English teachers in Otago has been much more lengthy, and she intends to continue to work at regional and local level as much as she ever has. She has helped to grow her regional association, OATE, to the point where it has regular termly meetings and has hosted two very successful ‘Big Days Out’. During her time on Council, where we’ve loved her practical, no-nonsense approach, she has taken on the job of organising the NZATE Conference Scholarships, doing a fantastic job.

Jo Morris 2016


NZATE President’s Annual Report 2014/15

E aku nui, e aku rahi, rau rangatira ma, tena koutou katoa

Nau mai, haere mai, haere mai.

Introduction

I’m proud to present the Association’s 35th report on the work of NZATE at this our 35th conference.. It is amazing to have 350 or so English teachers choosing to attend it in their holidays – and it’s already clear they made a good decision to do so.

Our advocacy role and issues facing English

In May, Moira Scammell and I attended the PPTA Subject Association Forum for the second time, after a gap of some years. This year’s issues and topics of concern and interest to us as English teachers included:

Learning Progressions Framework: Pauline Barnes from the Ministry of Education spoke about this and other Ministry Initiatives. Helaina Coote, our Vice President and I later followed up this briefing with a discussion at the Ministry about this new digital resource, which at years 1 – 8 is associated with the PaCT assessment tool. The framework exemplifies what literacy progressions look like within the context of three subject areas – English, Science and Social Science.

We’re still unclear about its precise relationship with the NZ Curriculum. Even more confusingly, in her recent speech at the New Zealand Principal’s Conference, Hekia Parata  talked about the hole in assessment at Year’s 9 and 10, and that this would be filled by schools and communities of schools choosing between : expanding  National Standards to Year 9 and 10, rolling NCEA down from its usual start at Year 11, and a  modified youth version of the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool, an online approach that provides information on reading, writing and numeracy skills. None of these options seem to have much to recommend them at first glance, and quite where the Literacy and Numeracy Progressions fit in remains a mystery.

Helaina and I will follow this up with the Ministry. It’s great to see a workshop on the Learning Progressions Framework has been offered at the Conference tomorrow – we welcome the chance to find out more.

Vocational Pathways

We were very interested to get an update on the Contextualised Learning Programmes and Vocational Pathways from Geoff Keith from the MoE. He talked about The national vision and goals and how these programmes and pathways are intended to lift student achievement. I followed this talk up by meeting with Geoff to talk about the important role English has in any programme, vocational or otherwise.

Survey of Associations

PPTA presented a survey they had undertaken of all national associations. It covered the memberships, subscription structure of associations, what we offer members and their organisation. Of particular interest to us was the comment that more than half the associations saying they had the income to provide only basic services, and 18% saying they could’ even do that. There’s a real tension for national,associations between what they want to provide and the income they are able to generate. All associations relied heavily, as we do, on volunteer work to exist.

Now, I’ll turn to NZATE specific matters.

Membership

The change in our subscription structure to a sliding scale based on school size, bringing us in line with other major national organisations, has had an immediate and positive impact on how many teachers we reach. A very simple way to measure this change is in the number of issues of our journal, English in Aoteoroa , we send out – and this has increased from 495 this time last year to 681so far in 2015.

We are tweaking the new membership structure to include provision for schools with only one teacher of English.

The misuse, by a few schools, of the personal membership option continues to be a concern: we’re worried that English teachers in those schools can’t access what we provide and even that they might not be aware that this community of their fellows exists. We are moving to a system where personal memberships are available by application only.

Professional Development Initiatives

Now that we have more secure income and are relying less on recouping costs from resource production, and on surpluses from Conferences, we intend to develop our website and investigate providing password protected resources digitally. We are currently exploring the possibility of a resource exemplifying the production of visual texts as our first on-line resource.

Another NZATE initiate, led by Cynthia Orr and David Taylor, is our HoD Best Practice Certificate – popular series of workshops in Auckland this year – clearly a need for both current and aspiring HoD’s and we’re working on how to make these available nationwide

Conferences

Next year – was to be Nelson, but this hasn’t been possible. However, I’m delighted to say that it will still be in the South Island, in Christchurch. We’ll update you via facebook, the website and English Online as soon as possible

In 2017, the Conference will be in Northland – this is the first time this region has hosted our conference, so we’re all excited!

NZATE Council

NZATE is a voluntary organisation, which is run by a nationally elected council drawn from all parts of the country. We continue to be extremely lucky to have a strong team of talented and experienced people on council.

The goals of NZATE as outlined in our objectives include: to promote the teaching of English, to act as a forum through conferences and publications, to speak authoritatively on behalf of members and to make appropriate representation on matters of concern related to the teaching of English. As a council, we meet face-to-face three times each year and continue to conduct much of our day-to-day business through email.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of this group of your representatives:

Council Leadership

National council for 2014-2015:

Jo Morris, President

Helaina Coote, Vice-President

Karen Beaumont, Treasurer

Moira Scammell, Secretary

Jo Mullenger, representative for Otago/Southland

Alison Cleary, representative for Canterbury/ Upper South Island

Cornelios Floratos, representative for Wellington

Yvette Krohn-Isherwood, representative for Central North Island/Waikato

Barry Banks, representative for Central North Island

Cynthia Orr, representative for South Auckland/Tai Tokerau

David Taylor, representative for Auckland

Steve Langley, English in Aotearoa Editor

2015 Election Results
Position Elected Candidate
President Jo Morris
Secretary Moira Scammell
Central North Island – (co-opted) Yvette Krohn-Isherwood
Central North Island – (co-opted) Katie Blackett (2015/16) and Belinda Develter (2026/17)

Our farewells and thanks must go to Barry Banks who ,in his brief time on council, set about revitalizing regional networks in the lower central north island.. It’s great to welcome Belinda Develter and Katie Blackett. They’re going to join the Council for a year each to take his place.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment that all members of council demonstrate as they combine the demands of teaching and leadership within their schools and local communities, with their responsibilities on council. I am proud to be a member of this group, and applaud their professionalism, energy and commitment.

English in Aotearoa

We are very proud of our journal, which provides invaluable resources and PD in every issue. Steve Langley continues to do a superb job of editing.  Steve is constantly on the look out for articles and resources that will appeal to classroom teachers and would be very glad to hear from you.

PD and Regional Associations

Please contact your regional representative with issues, needs, concerns etc – you’ll find contact details here: http://www.nzate.co.nz/index.php/about-us

Resources and PD

You can order resources here: http://www.nzate.co.nz/index.php/resources

NZATE exists for, and because of, its members and we urge you to share the benefits of membership of NZATE with those you know do not yet belong. It is crucial to the health of any organisation to have we members, with new ideas and perspectives, willing to share their experience and expertise. To this end, we continue to look for ways to actively engage and involve teachers newer to the profession in our work at national level. I urge all members to participate actively wherever possible, so that we can continue to support each other and respond to the issues and challenges that confront us all.

Kia ora koutou.

Jo Morris
President, NZATE


March 2015

Tena kotou katoa and welcome to the first of my reports on NZATE for 2015.

Your NZATE Council met over the weekend of February 28th – March 1st, and as usual discussion was wide-ranging and intense (although interspersed, on Saturday, with reports on the cricket).

At the heart of much of this discussion were the questions:

  • What is the core business of NZATE?
  • How can we, the Council, best ensure the organisation meets the needs of our members?

We believe that the core business of this organisation is to connect teachers with other teachers, and to represent the views of our members where necessary (for example, to the Ministry of Education).

The Council aims to meet the needs of members by supporting local, regional and national English Teachers’ Associations and by ensuring equity of access to the benefits of belonging to NZATE – benefits like our journal, English in Aotearoa, special membership rates for prices for resources and conferences – to all English teachers in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

This aim is what prompted our shift from the old membership structure, where schools nominated how many memberships they had, to the new, roll based structure, which we based on other large subject associations like Mathematics and Science. It’s been fantastic to see schools embracing this change, and fantastic to think of (for example) individual teachers having their own copies of the journal, rather than one increasingly tired looking copy wending its way from pigeonhole to pigeonhole (and if I may speak from personal experience, being discovered months after publication under that Year 10 marking you forgot you had to do).There’s really no reason, anymore, for a core English teacher, in a department which is an NZATE member, not to have access to all membership benefits.

We’ve made it clear, we hope, that Personal Memberships are intended for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t part of a secondary school. These people might be retired or at a teachers’ college, for example. (The exception is Council members, who must be personal members in addition to their departments having Institutional Membership.)

Regional Matters

One of the best parts of the meeting, for me, was to hear about developing and thriving local and regional organisations.

We were updated on what is shaping up to be a fantastic 2015 Conference in Wellington (Capital Letters: http://www.capitalletters2015.com/ ). Registrations have been open for some time, and the call for workshops has now gone out. To quote my own update last year, don’t feel that your ideas aren’t good enough, your school too small, your position not important enough, or any other reason you can use to put yourself off offering. Anyone who’s been to a Conference will know that one good idea from a practising teacher can make the whole conference worth going to – so do think seriously about offering a workshop.

If you’re in your first five years of teaching, keep an eye on English On-line, our website and our facebook page for details of the NZATE Scholarships to the conference.

Speaking of conferences and other professional development, we met Jay and Tasmine from Nelson, who are on the planning committee for our 2016 Conference, and heard that Northland have already begun planning for 2017. We heard about the inaugural ‘Big Day Out’ (operating so successfully in Auckland and South Auckland) in Otago, and of other PD around the country, including feedback from our own sessions on poetry and the oral standard.

Other Matters

Moira Scammell, the NZATE Secretary, and myself will be attending the PPTA Subject Association Forum in April. Topics we wish to raise during the forum are the lack of representation by teachers on the Teachers’ Council, exemplification of Levels  4 and 5 of the Curriculum, the need for PD for middle managers, workload issues, U.E and the possibility of government contribution to national associations’ costs.

Council positions coming up for re-election in July include President, Secretary, and both Central Regions (North Island) representatives.

If you are interested in any of these, or know someone who you think would be, please find information and nomination forms on our website soon, or contact your regional representative (or me).

Lastly, remember that you can check out our resources and order them here: http://nzate.co.nz/resources-3/

Hope you all slide into the holidays on the back of a successful term –

Hei konā mai

Jo Morris
President, NZATE


July 2014

E nga reo, e nga mana, e nga iti kahurangi.

Rau rangatira ma e huihui mai nei, tena koutou katoa.

Today, my main focus is going to be on communities and connections. At the moment, we’re enjoying a sense of community with like-minded people – people willing to give up some hard-won free time to come and share with and learn from other teachers.

At Conferences, I always feel a heightened sense of purpose and re-romanticise my sense of what English teaching is all about. It can be tricky to maintain that enthusiasm once I’m back in the classroom. Especially when, like all of you, I spend so much time on compliance, markbooks, moderation sheets, re-assessment opportunities and the like. The times that I reconnect, in a smaller way, with my colleagues are at my local association meetings. These have been of critical importance to me over the course of my career and, during the times when I’ve been teaching in an area without a healthy association, I’ve found it much harder to remain invigorated about teaching.

In a political climate where much about the future of education is uncertain – particularly in an election year – the support of colleagues is, I believe, the single most important thing that keeps our heads above water.

NZATE’s primary function, is, therefore to assist you in creating, maintaining and strengthening these links. We’d like every English teacher in NZ to have access to a community of colleagues. Our job is to advocate for issues of concern to the English teaching community. and to support your own efforts to be the best teachers of

English that you can be, in healthy departments with strong regional presences and associations. We want to help you achieve that in your area –come and see your regional representative to talk about how to make it happen.

Moira Scammell and I connected with another professional community in May, when we attended the PPTA Subject Association Forum. It was good to re-form connections to other associations, after some years when we couldn’t attend because of a clash with this Conference. We heard similar concerns from other associations as from our own. Notable among these was unease about a movement, through moderation, away from the original intent of some standards, the makeup of University Literacy, the sustainability and form of regional associations. Speakers addressed us on such topics as equity in education, educational research and the MoE initiative ‘Building on Success’.

It’s important that English teachers make sure that our communities – be they local, regional or national – remain aware of the issues and challenges we face. NZATE has an important part to play here in communicating and lobbying nationally, but all teachers need to keep their own communities informed. And, of course, we need to stay informed ourselves, in this, an election year. Both major parties are making big promises for education – it’s up to us to weigh the relative merits of these and vote accordingly.

As well, we need to keep a healthy sense of skeptism – not only about what is promised, but about what is claimed. For example, there’s a huge emphasis at all levels –  government, the Ministry and schools – on the importance of data and what we should do, based on this data. We’re inundated with tests, reports, surveys, statistics. We need to remember that data of any kind is one small strategy out of many that teachers can employ in their own enquiries. We should also remember to be proud of the innovation, flexibility, choice and in the case of English, enjoyment, our education system offers. And that this education system allows us to teach human beings, in all their individual complexities and different needs. Above all, we should remember that.

Now, I’ll turn to NZATE specific matters.

From next year, we’re making some change to our financial set up. We are bringing our fee structure into line with the other large associations like Maths and Science by basing it on school size – the intent is to make sure teachers in schools of different sizes have access to our resources – at the moment we rely on HOD’s getting enough memberships to provide copies of the journal, for example, for all core teachers –  we want to provide more direct access.

We’re also increasing the honoraria for key Council positions – there has been no change for many years, and the jobs have taken more and more time. The honoraria are recognition of time spent, rather than payment (since we couldn’t afford to actually pay people for their time! )

So far this year our membership is sitting at more than 495 – a rise of around 15% from last year, with more coming in each week. It’s heartening to see so many supporting and valuing NZATE. One reason is that we’ve employed some help for our secretary, and this has enabled us to directly contact more schools.


November 2013

Take time to read two pieces of correpsondence that I have sent recently – one to Min Parata and the other advising PPTA of NZATE’s stance on Charter Schools and the staff that choose to work in them.

The November report will follow soon…

Dear Ms Parata

I am writing on behalf of the New Zealand Association for the Teaching of English (NZATE), in relation to the recent decision to stop funding the National Co-ordinator Secondary English positions.  The roles provide invaluable support for English teachers, English Departments and local professional bodies.

This decision comes at a time when we have already lost the provision of resources and direct curriculum support through the removal of subject specific advisors and free best-practice workshops.  This decision will further erode the provision of support and direction for English teachers already dealing with increased pressure from sector reform.  Currently the people in these positions provide support, resources and networks for isolated and struggling teachers as well as those who wish to pursue excellence in their teaching practice.  They organise workshops, answer questions and provide information on curriculum changes and how to respond to them effectively.  Without this support the English teaching profession in Aotearoa New Zealand will be less robust.

The current co-ordinators visit isolated schools and areas to provide professional learning in areas where it is most needed.  They provide a benchmark against which teachers can confidently assess student work against national assessment standards.  This ensures that the unique New Zealand Curriculum is being implemented consistently so teachers can support students to succeed.  Across New Zealand they provide prompt responses to questions and issues which arise as well as building networks between teachers coping with similar problems.

The disestablishing of these roles undermines the Government’s restructure of the Teachers’ Council  and the drive for a higher level of professionalism in our schools.  It is disingenuous to require more commitment from teachers to subject specific professional learning while dismantling the structures in place to facilitate this learning.

Yours sincerely

Jo Morris
President, NZATE


July 2013

E nga reo, e nga mana, e nga iti kahurangi. Rau rangatira ma e huihui mai nei,    tena koutou katoa.

My report last year was delivered a month or so before the Novopay debacle began. What a mess. The only thing that hasn’t been a disaster is that for the first time I can remember, there’s been media sympathy for teachers. I may be prejudiced, but I think, actually, that our profession has covered itself in glory – we’ve continued to do our job in extremely trying circumstances – no walk out or strikes, just continued to put students first.

Another way English has featured in the news recently is because of Auckland University’s decision to raise the entry bar for prospective students. I wonder about the sense of this decision – it seems to me a more logical process would have been to see how the new literacy requirements work, before deciding on further changes. Presumably Auckland were part of the process – so NZATE would be interested to know why the University decided to impose another set of criteria – there was certainly no consultation with us, your subject association. In terms of our schools and classrooms, I’m ambivalent – on the one hand it certainly validates our subject and asserts its importance – but on the other, it means we will continue to have reluctant teenagers sitting in our classrooms being force fed our subject. We are supportive of the government led changes to literacy: we will not be advocating changes to those. However we will be making a submission to Auckland University regarding the further changes they’ve made.

Another issue concerns all teachers, not just English, but is important to be aware of. This is the review of the Teachers Council, which contains proposals that, if implemented, will make sweeping changes to our professional body from 2015. These changes will have major consequences for all of us. NZATE sees three key issues:

  • that the review committee was working on the premise that many teachers do not currently meet requirements
  • that all the people who will be on the future council will be appointees – with no elected representatives – and that therefore we will not have a voice or autonomy
  • and that in order to pay for this reduction in autonomy and trust, there will be a significant increase in our fees – and that we might even be required to re-register each year, through a more rigid and onerous process.

It’s of critical importance that all teachers are aware of and respond to this review – it’s an issue that goes beyond our subject association.

Two other issues that have affected English teachers this year are NZQA related. The first is that we’ve heard from teachers concerned about the timing and availability of Best Practice Workshops in their region. NZQA believes that clarifications, annotated exemplars and moderator newsletters are giving teachers the required support, so we all do need to make sure that we keep up to date with these. We felt, however, that it was important that face-to-face PD continues, and continues to be as useful as possible. Consequently, on your behalf, NZATE made a submission to NZQA regarding what we felt was the best model for these workshops: that they be early in the year, concerned with the examination and discussion of grade boundaries through student exemplars, aimed at leading or at least experienced teachers and that there are enough facilitators, and enough workshops, to ensure effective learning by participants. It’s worth noting that, in our experience, NZQA can be responsive to requests from regional organisations.

The second issue also indirectly concerns the Best Practice Workshops – specifically the information teachers are receiving at them about assessment and how this sometimes seems to conflict with exemplars on the NZQA website. Our advice in all cases would be to first consult the standard and the Conditions of Assessment guidelines. THESE, not tasks or exemplars, should be your ‘bible’. Remember that the exemplars in many cases were collected when the standards were still in draft form – and that best practice is always evolving. In some cases it’s also worth remembering that cost, technology and time constraints meant that limited possibilities are available as exemplars – for example connections exemplars don’t demonstrate that non-written responses are valid.)

There continues to be uncertainty about MOE and NZQA led PD opportunities.

All these issues do highlight the importance of strong national and regional subject associations.

Our job is to advocate for issues of concern to the English teaching community. and to support your own efforts to be the best teachers of English that you can be, in healthy departments with strong regional presences and associations.