Bruce Ritchie - Part 3
Bruce Ritchie: “We’re trying to use the terminology and the best evidence synthesis - building educationally powerful connections. Everything we do in the school we’re trying to, to relate back to Te Kotahitanga and, um, and therefore making it such a strong programme in our school. Also we got this from Whaea Awa when she told us one day that kids that she meets in the community are saying that school is a much better place for Māori students now. Maori students are feeling more comfortable at Massey High School. Also we now have teachers choosing to come to us because we are a Te Kotahitanga school. And we’re in a special programme with the University of Auckland enhancing the practicum nature of, ah, for pre-service teachers and we have about I think it’s fourteen teachers at a time and our associate teachers are specially trained as mentors, and every single one of them on their feedback sheet at the end, mentions Te Kotahitanga. So it’s become a really important part for pre-service teachers as well.
“Now results, results have generally improved but sometimes they haven’t, and so they’re generally going in a north-east direction as Richard Elmore says but Richard Elmore is a guy that I quite like to read about. I had the privilege of hearing him speak four years ago at Harvard University and he’s a professor of education at Harvard, and there’s a couple of things that he said that really sticks in my mind. One thing he said, ‘Teaching is an occupation not a profession, because it lacks a model of professional practice, unlike Law or medicine.’ I believe Kotahitanga is that model of professional practice that we’ve been lacking for so long. He also said in terms of school improvement, ‘It’s a rocky road, it doesn't always go up sometimes it goes down,’ and he said, ‘Don’t lose your nerve. Provided you’re going in a northeasterly direction, it’s okay,’ so that made me feel a little bit better too, so northeast is important.
“Taking ownership, it’s starting to spread throughout our school and we’re starting to hold responsibility for it. Now this slide I’ve called weaning because phase three schools are in this delicate position now where the Ministry of Education have stopped feeding us, so we’re on our own. Though I have to acknowledge Russell, Mere and Te Arani that we can still attend the huis, so that, that’s a real positive but in terms of money into your school, zero. So that’s going to be the real test when they wean us from that funding.
“So funding is an issue, there’s no doubt about it, how do we continue it with no support? And I have to say that I had to make a tough decision a while a go for next year, and I don’t want you to hear this Russell but I’ve cut back the resourcing of it, I had to, in order to try and balance the budget. And not only Te Kotahitanga but one of our other signature programmes, academic counseling as well. So funding is a real issue. I can’t see that if the government provides RTLBs for every school, they provide specialist classroom teachers for every school, I think after seven years in the programme and if they’re trying to wean us, I think there should be a staffing entitlement in every school, at a certain point. And I know Annette and Elizabeth are really strong on this so you’ll probably Annette talking about this as well. But I can’t see why not, they give it for other things, ah, as we can see from the evaluation through Victoria University, independent evaluation it’s very positive, really good recommendations, if it is so good then why aren’t they continuing it? And I think, um, I can’t remember who it was but another educator said, ‘If something works, continue doing it, just keep doing it until it stops working.’ And I think that’s what we should be doing here, we need to convince the Ministry and the government. So there’s a missing piece in our jigsaw and that is we’re not there yet, okay, and when we find it we may get there. Thank you.”