Election 2023: PPTA says Govt didn't consult them on mandating new policy, Prime Minister says 'simply not true'

The teaching union is accusing the Government of failing to consult with them on legislating the new education policy, but the Prime Minister says "that is simply not true".

The policy will make maths, reading and writing core requirements compulsory, it is called the Common Practice Model and will be released in term 4 allowing the Government to consider feedback. The requirements will then be rolled out from next year and made compulsory in 2026. 

The Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) president Chris Abercrombie said there's nothing "inherently wrong" with the Common Practice Model which has "really good aspects to it".

But Abercrombie said one size does not fit all with education. 

"Saying this is the best way, well, we know it won't be for every student. So we're going to be asking teachers to teach it this way and then teach X, Y, and Z as well because we're going to have different students needing different needs," Abercrombie said.

He accused political parties of using education as a "political football" pointing to National's promise to ban cell phones in schools if elected and Labour's plan to teach students financial literacy. 

He went further, saying the PPTA believes how something is taught "shouldn't be legislated".

"That happens in overseas jurisdictions and education becomes a huge political football. We know this, we see this, and we don't want that to happen in New Zealand." 

He said instead, the education system needs more resourcing, more professional learning and development for teachers as well as smaller classrooms. 

Unions like the PPTA had a voice in creating the Common Practice Model, but Abercrombie said he only found out about the legislative element "two days ago" when he received a call from Education Minister Jan Tinetti. 

But Prime Minister Chris Hipkins disagrees and told AM's Ryan Bridge, "That's not correct".

"I mean the New Zealand curriculum is put in place under a legislative authority so, no, that is simply not true."

Prime Minister Hipkins said the Common Practice Model has been widely consulted for about two years now and "teachers have been widely consulted on that".

"We're giving legislative effect to do it, that is something that governments will do from time to time, but it has been very widely consulted on."  

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) said it "broadly supports" the Common Practice Model.

NZEI president Mark Potter said time and resourcing are needed to prepare "the best learning experiences for tamariki are more important than mandating".

"A lot is mandated for teachers already. What the teacher needs is the time and resourcing to ensure they are properly prepared to teach while maintaining their professional autonomy to deliver the curriculum in a way that is responsive to the children they work with."

Education Minister Jan Tinetti responds:  

The Education Minister told AM, currently Aotearoa's education system is providing "inconsistent results".

"We know our teachers are experiencing inconsistent methods of learning how to teach reading, writing and mathematics and communication skills." 

She said the Common Practice Model will make it easier for teachers and has been created with them and experts. 

"I think this is a really, really good thing to ensure our kids can be the best that they can be."

Minister Tinetti said those who were involved in creating the policy believe "legislating this has been a really good idea".

"To ensure that we're getting that consistency across the country. We're not seeing that at the moment. We need to make certain that it is a consistent approach," she said.

"My job now is to make certain that we go through and that our teachers are supported in their resource to be the best that they can be, which I know they are." 

Watch the video above for more.