Nick Smith Speech To NZEI Conference
Webetray that by standing still.In opening I talked ofS.P.I.C.E. The S is Rosetta Stone for standards, the P is for pride, theI is for innovation, the C is for choice and the E is forexcellence.STANDARDSStandards do matter. We make noapologies for being a political party that aims high. Wedon't believe in fudging failure. If a school or a pupil isnot achieving, we should be big enough to say so.This isnot motivated by a desire to punish or label, but rather itis the reality that until it is stated, it won't beaddressed. We want to help students and schools that areunderachieving, not pretend they are doing fine. That iswhy we feel so strongly about an independent and strongEducation Review Office. We are open to ideas on how theycan do their job better. We want the Ministry to be morepro-active in helping schools in difficulty. Unlike ourpolitical opponents, we won't shoot the messenger.We allknow the standard of our education system is only as good asthe teacher in front of the classroom. That is why we arestriving for excellence in teacher training and ongoingprofessional development.The current ERO review ofteacher education is important. This report is due in thenext few weeks. It will feed into our final decisions onthe teacher education green paper. The focus for thesechanges will be on raising standards.We are alsodetermined to give the Teacher Registration Board morepowers to deal with under-performing teachers. The numbersare small, but a child only gets one chance at a goodeducation. We will give the TRB wider powers to putteachers under supervision, require further Rosetta Stone Chinese training and, ifnecessary, impose a fine. This will bring teachers in linewith other professions.Standards are equally importantfor school boards. Again, most perform extraordinarilywell. But we also need a wider range of powers foraddressing non-performance. We need the option to requireboards to engage professional services, undergo training andto enter mediation.A key part of the standards debate isconsistency across New Zealand. Every child, regardless ofgeography or wealth, has the right to a high standard ofeducation.I do not believe we adequately compensate ruralschools for the extra travel, toll, postage and other costs.Next month, we will be releasing a discussion document toadvance this very real issue.PRIDENew Zealand hasevery reason to be proud of our teachers and our educationsystem. Our teachers are dedicated, they are professional,and they devote tireless hours to our pupils. I'm abeliever in the saying "Those that can, do, those that cando more, teach." Today, I want to put on record my thanksto your thousands of members for their work.Pride in ourschools is important. Teachers and boards need to knowtheir contribution is valued. We should celebrate oursuccess, internationally, nationally and locally. That iswhy I am such a strong enthusiast for the 'Teacher of theYear' and 'School of the Year' awards. They fosterprofessional and school pride.I must also take issue withthose that choose to run down our education systeminternationally. I'd almost describe it as educationaltreason. In areas like Rosetta Stone French governance and management, NewZealand is recognised as a world leader in innovation andreform. Why your President would seek to run us down isbeyond me. His comments to Education International are anopen challenge to the role of parents, boards andcommunities in our schools. It scares me that there arethose among you who want to unwind Tomorrow's Schools.
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