Teacher Ratios - the end of Woodwork and Sewing?
Thought the budget had little in it that bothered me either way until I found this bit:
In summary, the teacher funding for Yr7/8 pupils has changed. Previously the funding was provided on the basis of one teacher per 29 pupils plus one technology teacher per 120 pupils. Now it has become a single ratio of 1 teacher per 27.5 pupils.
Initially, I glanced at that and wondered whether that made much difference. However a few calculations and I now reckon that actually means that to keep the technology teachers (and presuming that the class sizes could not be increased), schools would have to fund their class teachers at one teacher per 36 children. Class sizes would probably have to be larger than this to allow for a % of funding to go to remedial reading or extension.
If I have calculated this correctly, I am shocked. The principals are probably correct in saying that primary/intermediate schools will no longer be able to resource current technology (woodwork/sewing/cooking). It also seems that the curriculum requirements for technology teaching might no longer be based on providing children the opportunity to gain basic manual skills and therefore the curriculum can actually be taught via other activities.
This deserved more debate. Once we lose the technology centres, they will never be rebuilt.
Many years ago in Ireland the National School System taught basic reading, writing and arithmetic with little else to Irish children to the age of fourteen when they could leave school. If the pupil wanted to, they could enrol in the local Technical School where Woodwork, metalwork, sewing, typing etc., were taught and after three years, the better pupils moved on to a trade and part-time Tech. attendance. Some went on to great things, very rarely to University. All that is gone now and the higher levels of education available to all do not appear to have achieved anything other than elevating schoolteachers to a level just below God - in their eyes - with opinions on every issue and some of the more confident ones have actually convinced some of the public to elect them to positions where they can pollute the corridors of power in Wellington. We need education - not indoctrination.
Thanks for starting this thread, Lizard. In the ODT (who else would do it) article:
I spoke to a secondary teacher about this yesterday, to get better informed. Apparently the funding ratios are already adjusted by schools. Some classes that they might hold have only a few students, so the majority of classes are at pupil-teacher ratios well above whatever the government funds for. The school has to decide what, for them, are core specialist classes that they will not drop from their offerings even if the class size is smaller (or to reallocate funds to deans, teacher aides etc), and then enlarge the other class sizes to cope with that. The adjustments to the timetables are laborious, often a manual process.
"Schools will be expected to continue to teach the technology programme but without funding for specialist teachers. The new technology curriculum was revised in 2007.
It is no longer the old manual training programme but one that looks to develop technological understanding, which leads to developing future products and systems meeting the changing needs of a progressive society.
"The message given by these staffing cuts is that this learning area is not important or that anyone can teach it and it does not require specialist knowledge or understanding before students are in year 9," she said.
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Ian Leckie said the responsibility of teaching technology subjects may "fall back on the responsibility of the classroom teacher".
The National government has thus changed a decades-long policy that ensured that no matter what, intermediate year schools always had a pool of funding for technology training. Many of us posting here would have either travelled to these woodwork and sewing/cooking classes in our intermediate years, or it would have been provided at our own schools. In these classes we observed how we performed with technical tasks compared with our peers. And we learnt how to handle tools of the trade.
You can't learn that at a desk. Learning about technical skills at an Intermediate age helps young adults view different career paths, before the all-important decisions that are starting to be made at Year 9, or third form.
Last edited by elZorro; 27-05-2012 at 01:55 PM.
That is, if you consider woodwork/sewing/cooking as "technology"....certainly not modern technology..
I must say I didn't enjoy any of those 3 at school. Yet another cooking program, Yawn!
Everyone seems to have completely lost sight of a piece of educational research which was in all the media headlines a few months ago that it didn't actually matter that much what the teacher/pupil ratio was, withing broad limits of course, it only had a very small influence on teaching effectiveness.
Naturally it has been totally ignored by self interested lobby groups, teacher's unions, headmasters, the Labour Party. One shouldn't really expect any honesty from them.
Having heard an interview on National Radio with one of the researchers that National quoted as a basis (can't remember which one), the impression I was left with was that this conclusion was misreported in many respects. I'm not normally inclined to side with the Greens, but you might want to start with some of the links on this blog:
I am grateful that my children have received an impressive primary school education. Less grateful for their current secondary school education in which the level of disruption leaves most of the learning to occur in their own time and at their own motivation. In my view, under-parenting and impoverishment are contributors to this disruption (not Race in and of itself, which the ministry finds it easier to focus on measuring!).
Unfortunately, the new focus on rewarding "good" teachers is likely end up rewarding teachers within less impoverished communities with more supportive families. This will further accentuate the drift of Good Teachers to Strong Communities and further decrease the chances for children caught in Weak Communities.
All a slightly different topic to the one above. Personally, I think the basic cooking/sewing/woodwork/metalwork classes are more valuable than many of the other experiences our children have at primary school. Definitely the kids gain more from them than from the newer I.T. classes, given the level of familiarity and proficiency they experience in I.T. from every day life (while rarely getting access to a sewing machine or hammer). However, if there is one skill I think we should consider funding at school these days, it is driving lessons... though perhaps not at intermediate!
I read another article that said about 10% of children are on medication for ADHD and related issues these days. I'd hate to be a teacher coping with even 20 kids fulltime, let alone what you suggest MVT - just bump the class sizes up until we can afford it.
Originally Posted by Major von Tempsky
National policies did this, they lowered the tax take to see if the trickle-down theory would work. It didn't, and not because there's a recession going on. It never works. Sacking hundreds of teachers to lower the salary bill in schools (and you can see them working weekends) is not going to help us long-term. We need committed teachers, ones who'll go the extra mile. If the government upsets them, we'll all pay for it.
Disclaimer: have relatives who are in the school system..
Just counted up my school photo from form 2, 1960 - the only school photo I could find. There were 48 in the class, and we could all read, spell, write letters, knew our grammar and mathematics including the long fortgotten subject known as mental aritmetic; that really taught us to think. That was at age 12. Classes right through my school years were around that size.
Originally Posted by elZorro
Only 48 in the class FP? Luxury! (Monty Python sequence here)
By the time I went through in the late 60s - early 70s there must have been more cash around, class size was about 30. No sign of a calculator until late secondary school (very expensive, $80), and even then we used the Eton tables and a slide rule for School C.
It would be interesting to see the two curricula lined up from back then, to now. Writing, spelling and mental maths would be down the list, but general knowledge, IT, drama and other skills would be better catered for. I agree that I take a dim view of (for example) many university graduates who cannot yet put a written document together without obvious typo and grammatical mistakes.
This education standard might have something to do with the fact that when unemployment rises, the 18-25 year-olds fare the worst.
An article this morning expands on that - $13.50 is the minimum wage and many will not work for that amount.
Ryman Healthcare seem to find people at just above that rate for rest home carers - making a healthy profit from it too. But cleaners can be paid $20 an hour, that sounds like a better pay deal.
This brave new world of ours, with unqualified workers turning up without lunch, and leaving at the prospect of a drugs test.. I think what some of these employers are saying is that you might start on a low rate, but if you prove yourself to be an employable person, you'll quickly be bumped up in pay.
As long as that actually happens, of course. The jobless queue here is getting longer, not shorter.
Last edited by elZorro; 28-05-2012 at 07:32 AM.
I fully agree with all the quotes on this page, and chose this one because it doesn't quite explain what the alternative is. It is worthwhile supporting what we do mean by "education". In fact this is the only post that does put "education" as the alternative, rather than describing what is not wanted in education, which only dilutes any possibility for education. I reckon we should take far more risk in saying what we do mean by education. I think we'll find, politicians included, that it is a very difficult task, but a vital one as many here have already suggested.
Originally Posted by craic
Fred114, interesting post. I didn't mean that I think current education is aimed at the wrong things completely, it's a big new world that students have to get ready for. But one big aim of education surely must be to provide students with the ability to earn a living.
Originally Posted by Fred114
When they're working for someone else, and more importantly as self-employed, they need good written and oral skills once they progress past labouring jobs. Their communications and behaviour with outside people (who will likely be older, and have standards from a different era) have to be at a good level. If not, that work is unchargeable. That can result in the job disappearing, because they'll bring the firm down. These are the risks that put employers off, not the actual hourly rate paid.
Last edited by elZorro; 28-05-2012 at 04:17 PM.
I taught secondary woodwork just as it was being re-invented as "technology".
Kids who were failing at English and Maths or were discipline problems because they were failing English and Maths or were just bored by the whole school thing came to the workshop and discovered they could make stuff and use tools and apply their innate creativity and SUCCEED at something.
They would take the jewel box or toy truck or knife block home and Mum and Dad and Granny would say, "Did you really make that? Hey you're pretty clever?" I ran lunchtimes to cope with the demand. Lots of kids have hidden practical talents and their learning styles are suited by actually doing it rather than reading about it. The maths and the language came co-incidently as problems were confronted and solved. As a teacher some of my proudest moments came as I drew breath in a corner, looked out over the room and saw every kid involved and interested and learning. Sometimes I had to cut the power to make them stop!
Then came N.C.E.A. Kids had to focus more on planning, thinking, designing, interviewing stakeholders and assessing stage-by-stage progress. By the time they came to actually make the bloody thing they were sick to death of it. And the emphasis on writing and maths shut the non-academics out once again.
I got sick of it in the end and left. Educational decisions are being made by managers who haven't been into a classroom since they left school themselves, and many of them are woefully out of touch with the way modern schools work.
Schools aren't businesses. You can't assess them like you would businesses.
Yes, NCEA was a bit hijacked. It was meant to be a purely standard's based assessment, that gave autonomy to the teacher to test students in what they had learned (from the teacher). But the market was not completely satisfied and wanted a more objective test that removed any ambiguity. What students had been taught was what was needed by the job market. So subjects like "tech" were initially seen to benefit from unit standards, where teachers would set a standard that grabbed student's attention and they were more likely to gain credits, either pass or fail. Subjects like philosophy or religion or even science to a large degree were not seen as required by the job market. This approach came in for heavy criticism from those who saw the watering down of academic subjects, and those who couldn't agree on what were worthwhile projects to give to students. The plumbers board for example were sacked over not being able to agree on what a plumber does. More common though was the constant barrage from universities who had another assessment system (a normative one). So they came up with NCEA, which is a hybrid of the two. This stands for National certificate of acheivement to which only some standard's were included. There are two types of standards, a unit standard, and an acheivement standard which both meet NCEA standard. It is extremely complicated, and students are constantly prone to receiving miss-information as schools try to exploit them for their league tables. This in turn conflates the normative side of the hybrid. Add to the mix the so-called international exams, which are normative. So basically all schools offer the same standards, which is a long way from schools being "connected to local community" or "responding to learners needs". They respond to their needs as long as they conform to the goal as it is set out. I recently looked into uni entrance for school leavers. Basically it comes down to the discretion of the faculty. There is some initial points thing, which is not difficult to achieve, but they don't really declare that they only take the top students who apply. So basically, this is just an extension of the goal the students have already been on, except now they keep that hidden. What those on the normative side want is to get this even more embedded, so we don't even need to ask why you didn't achieve your grades. It is just expected that you're not the person we want round here. But of course humans don't work like that. I am really struggling how to prepare my children for life beyond school, now only ten years away......
Last edited by Fred114; 28-05-2012 at 09:57 PM.
I hear they also removed funding for the buses that currently take yr 7 & 8 children to other school technology centres. Find the placatory "we find it very unlikely that any school technology centers will need to close" statement I heard from someone on radio this morning a little odd. From this angle, it seems hard to comprehend how they will stay open.