A new ERO report has shown how much more students can achieve when teachers are freed to teach and are given professional development to enhance their skills.
The in-depth study looked at 40 schools that were doing better in reading, writing and maths than comparable schools and found most were using specific, useful teaching strategies, though sometimes effective practices were visible only in some of a school’s classrooms or groups of teachers.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said the focus on the 3Rs thanks to National Standards had narrowed the curriculum, and now was the time for the government to invest in what does work – a broad, rich curriculum that excites students and creates a love of learning.
“We need to invest in schools and teachers, so principals are freed to lead, teachers are freed to teach and students can enjoy the full curriculum and be inspired in their learning,” she said.
Most of the professional development and ministry support for strengthening teachers’ skills in science and the arts and other subjects has been axed over the past few years, to the detriment of students and their long-term achievement.
“The ERO report cited the achievements at Rosscommon School in Manurewa, where teachers had spent their weekend upskilling in order to make maths learning work better for children. That shows great dedication, but shouldn’t have to be the norm,” said Ms Stuart.
A senior ERO advisor also pointed out on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme that when teachers had the time to teach, were backed by their boards, and the curriculum was exciting and fun, their schools didn’t have problems recruiting, and these schools didn’t suffer from problems associated with the national teacher shortage.