Education Minister Hekia Parata seems intent on unleashing a cat amongst the pigeons; performance pay for teachers. And it seems that she is not without support; the Herald reports:
A clear majority of people support performance pay for teachers, the latest Herald DigiPoll survey shows.The policy is backed by Education Minister Hekia Parata, but she said last night it would take longer to introduce than she thought.But she was willing to look at performance pay for teams of teachers, not just individual teachers.At present pay is based mainly on years of service.She is meeting the Post Primary Teachers' Association executive tonight and performance pay will be on the agenda.
Hekia Parata is being realistic about the task ahead of her; read on:
Ms Parata said developing performance pay now would be putting the cart before the horse. She needed first to develop a more comprehensive appraisal system to identify outstanding teachers so the practice could be shared more widely, and find where the gaps were in professional development."Performance pay to me is distraction really because once you have an appraisal system which is about identifying good practices and how we get more of it, then performance pay is simply one of a basket of options to reward and recognise."Others could include opportunities to do more in the classroom or for leadership or professional development.Ms Parata said teaching was a collaborative profession "and in developing a comprehensive appraisal system and the rewards one would be looking for elements that relate well to that"."It is possible you could have performance pay for a team. Actually you can cut just about any way you have the creativity to think about it."
Ms Parata seems to be adopting a very sensible approach as she approaches the PPTA. It would be helpful to have a collaborative relationship with the teacher unions who, is they are truly honest, will acknowledge that there are some people within the profession who are simply not up to the job, whilst at the other end of the scale there are many outstanding educators.
However, if the teacher unions underestimate Ms Parata, it will be at their peril. We believe that she is going to become an outstanding Education Minister. And as far as education goes, far from having been born into privilege she has a "back story" every bit as impressive as that of David Shearer. She was recently profiled by The Listener, and the story included this:
Born in 1958, Parata had an upbringing in rural Ruatoria that was strong on education and hard work. Her mother, Hiria Reedy (Ngati Porou), helped introduce Playcentre to the East Coast; her father, Ron Parata (Ngai Tahu), was her high-school form teacher at Ngata Memorial College. She is the third of eight children, the oldest girl.The family owned neither a house nor a car. When she was a teenager, her parents’ marriage broke up, and the family had to rely on state help for housing, income and education scholarships. Parata went on to complete an MA in history and Maori at Waikato University and to lead the Waikato Students’ Union, then had a stellar career in the public service, specialising in Maori and Treaty issues. Her work included time in the offices of three Labour prime ministers.She went on to form a consultancy with husband Sir Wira Gardiner (her title, when she chooses to use it, is Lady Gardiner). In 1995, she and Gardiner returned to Ruatoria to give their daughters the opportunity of a Maori-immersion education.
The expression "role-model" is greatly overused. But Hekia Parata is an example that even those from the most humble of circumstances can achieve, if they choose to. She is certainly an inspiration to young Maori, shattering the myth that being born Maori condemns one to a life of mediocrity.