Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Education bombshell

There's been a bombshell dropped on the Education sector this morning; this from Scoop:

Resignation of Secretary for Education

19 December 2012

Resignation of Secretary for Education
The State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, today announced that he has accepted the resignation of the Secretary for Education and Chief Executive Ms Lesley Longstone.
Mr Rennie said that the last six months have been especially challenging for the Ministry of Education. Despite the best efforts of the Chief Executive to work through a number of issues, there now needs to be a focus on re-building the critical relationships that have been strained.
“Following very careful thought and discussion, Lesley and I have decided that the best interests of the Ministry would be served by her stepping down and the appointment of a new Chief Executive,” Mr Rennie said.
“Lesley is a highly capable and dedicated professional who has been strongly committed to achieving better education outcomes for all New Zealanders. I respect the very difficult decision that she has made and expect she will continue to contribute her expertise to public service.” 
“Lesley returns to the United Kingdom for the Christmas break, as planned, and then will return to complete her role on 8 February 2013,” Mr Rennie said.
“Lesley and I have agreed to a package that falls within the Auditor-General’s guidelines for severance payments in the public sector. Further details of this package will be released in the New Year once it is finalised.”
Mr Rennie said he was grateful to Victoria University of Wellington for supporting the secondment of former Public Service chief executive Peter Hughes as the Acting Chief Executive and Secretary for Education. Peter Hughes will take up his role from 9 February 2013. The State Services Commission will advertise for the permanent role in the New Year.

Ms Longstone has presided over a turbulent time at the Ministry of Education. Her tenure has coincided with that of Education Minister Hekia Parata who has sadly been one of National's poorest-performing Ministers in 2012.

We wonder where that leaves Hekia Parata. There have been indications of a Cabinet reshuffle early in the New Year, and John Key is very likely to look at Education as one area that has scored a "Not Achieved" in 2012. Perhaps Tony Ryall, who has had a stellar four years as Health Minister might be put in place with a mandate to sort out the mess.

Interesting times await the education sector. The blunders of this year have claimed their first scalp, and in all probability, not their last one.


Robert Winter said...

A fair comment.

bsprout said...

I agree with your summation, KS.

Lesley Longstone’s resignation recognizes that appointing someone, who has no institutional knowledge of our education system, to introduce flawed ideology is doomed to failure. Longstone is a bureaucrat who was tasked implementing policy with little hope of success and it is my bet that her replacement in the role will also be an import. No one from within in New Zealand, who really understands education, would seriously consider it!

Education under National has been led by Ministers who don't possess the knowledge or the skills to do the job and latterly Parata has had a Ministry CEO who could not provide useful advice. Sadly I don't se this changing unless the Government and the Ministry look at the way they consult with communities and work with the profession.

Stilmer Gabber said...

Key said he wouldn't drop Parata.
So he probably will.

Vera Sadd said...

No one from within in New Zealand, who really understands the role of the teachers' union in education, would seriously consider it!
They would never work with a National Minister, or Government.

bsprout said...

Vera Sadd, the New Zealand Educational Institute has a long history of working with Ministers and the Ministry/Department on professional issues. NZEI has recently set up a professional entity to provide professional development for teachers because this Government sacked most of our advisors and there is a huge void in the support provided for learning areas such as science and technology. Unless professional development fits the Government's narrow agenda this is little available to support schools and teachers.

Relationships with Education Ministers has little do with their politics but everything to do with their agenda. We applauded Trevor Mallard's support for under funded ECE but disliked the way he managed schooling reviews. In the last National Government we worked with Nick Smith, Wyatt Creech and Lockwood Smith and while we didn't always agree with everything they did we did have a working relationship.

With Anne Tolley and Hekia Parata we have had two Ministers who have refused to collaborate with the profession at any level. Because of their refusal to work with us there have been huge issues with the implementation of National's policies. National Standards had no trial, the $400 million in cuts to Early childhood has been devastating, the proposed increases to class sizes was poorly advised and Novapay has been a complete dogs breakfast.

Most teachers actually just want what's best for kids and at the moment we are losing many of our best teachers because the environment we are being forced to work in is one of the most dysfunctional that I can remember in 30 years of teaching.