Last week Hekia Parata tied herself up in knots trying to explain why neither she, nor any Minister in Cabinet, studied the actual list of schools that were going to lose teachers as a result of her change to teacher:pupil ratios. Despite a week of questioning in the House from my colleague Nanaia Mahuta and I, by the end of the week we were still none the wiser as to how many schools stood to lose more than 2 teachers, how many stood to gain teachers and so forth.
Today I pulled up a spreadsheet of every school in the country from the education counts website. A quick calculation of teacher numbers at each school based on the current teacher:pupil ratio and the new teacher:pupil ratio allowed me to get a very rough idea of the scale of the gains and loses schools might experience. I say rough because there are a few very important caveats:
- Enrolments will be different next year, so any analysis applying the old and new formulas to existing student numbers will naturally be indicative only
- There are currently some extra staffing entitlements for schools with less than 175 students in order to guarantee a maximum average class size of no more than 25 students. It’s unclear whether this ‘top-up’ teaching will continue. Expect more questions on this…
- Technology teaching for Years 7&8 is complicated because it presently goes directly to the technology provider (usually an intermediate school) whereas under the new formula it goes to the student’s actual school. This means a crude calculation like the one I’ve done can understate the loses for intermediate schools and overstate the loses for the schools who don’t directly deliver technology programmes.
With all of those caveats in place, there are still some pretty obvious conclusions that leap out:
- When ranking schools according to the number of teachers they stand to lose, almost all of the top 100 are intermediate schools
- Around 300 schools stand to lose more than one teacher as a result of the new ratios
- Fewer than 20 schools will gain more than 1 teacher, and those that do gain are more likely to be in wealthier areas (deciles 8-10)
It defies belief that the Minister of Education took this proposal to Cabinet, it was signed-off and made it all the way through the Budget process without the school-by-school impact being adequately considered. It didn’t take me long to do a very rough analysis, and I’m sure that with all their information and expertise the Minister’s officials could’ve produced her a far more accurate picture in no time.
This doesn’t just reflect poorly on Hekia Parata either. Where were all of the other Ministers when this went through Cabinet? Where was John Key? This was a big decision and it clearly didn’t get the level of scrutiny it should have.