Tuesday 18 December 2012

Just thinking...

I see in the news our illustrious politicians have agreed that they deserve a pay rise, but that they will only expect the same as the general populace or maybe a little less. They think 1.5% is about right.

Now I must emphasise before I go on, that being a politician is honestly NOT a career I could do or would ever want to, plus the stress levels are in no way compensated by the perks and trappings of the job (brilliant though they are).

But the politicians are also SO out of touch with the general populace.
Let's not talk in percentages as they want us to. We're not thick - we can do the math...

1.5% of $141,000 (approximate base backbencher salary - and I won't even bring up the PM's $400,000+ salary or a cabinet minister's $260,000 but you might like to...) is $2115, double the 1.5% of the Joe Citizen median of just under $63,000 ($930). (And FYI, that figure is a median number - half of NZers earn more than that, half earn less.)
Oh, don't forget it is being backdated too...

I think politicians are paid more than enough. (Perks are not included in those totals.)

So now I'll sit back and watch the MoE, on instructions from their 'illustrious' Minister (earning a base salary of $257,000 +1.5% - backdated) grant teachers their well-deserved pay-rise with the same ease the politicians are getting theirs, eh?

Oooh, look! That pig...! It - it's FLYING!!!

Saturday 1 December 2012

8th, eh? Really? Not if the politicians have anything to do with it...

The news item in the following link shows New Zealand's educational system to be world class. This is despite the politicians' best efforts to persuade the New Zealand voting public that it isn't (especially the governing National Party).


It will be interesting to see how the politicians react to this one, to see what spin they put on it.


Pop Quiz: (multi-choice)

What approach will the politicians take?

a) They will decry it as an invalid investigation based on some vague criteria that they think they can justify.

b) They will put down the company that organised the research as not being involved at the necessary (?) level of education delivery (and that it is biased because they are probably trying to sell something).

c) They will claim the credit for it (nothing to do with the educational professionals). They will attribute the success to the National Standards.

d) They will blame the teachers (again) for not having us up in 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th 3rd, 2nd or 1st position.

e) They will ignore it, say nothing and expect that the voting public will forget all about it by the next election so they can say (again) what a dreadful educational system we have and if we will only vote them in again to receive their exorbitant salaries they will
i) fix it
ii) find someone else to blame for it
iii) add something else to the system that has no educational value and pronounce it the saving grace of the future generation

f) They will contract a consultant to rejig the statistics to prove the opposite so they can continue to blame the teachers and, despite them having no teacher / educational training whatsoever, continue to tell the educational professionals how they should be doing their job.

g) All of the above - but it will be announced by different politicians at different times and our illustrious prime minister will laugh away all the contradictions from his own party spokesmen as a misunderstanding and pronounce they are fixing the system so we don't need to worry. He will then blame the teachers and demand his education minister fix everything on his behalf so he can claim the credit.


Alternatively, if we close our eyes, wish REALLY hard and profess our belief that fairies are real, the politicians just might admit they have got it all wrong and the system is in fact working well - and the teachers are doing a reasonably good job after all...


And since we are gently rattling the cage of the powers that be at the moment, I have been reading a great idea to fix the Novopay debacle (it was the worst word I could come up with without resorting to swearing in a public blog).

The solution?

Put all the politicians and Ministry of Education employees on the Novopay payroll.

Watch how fast it gets fixed then!

Friday 14 September 2012

Dear Mr Key...

Thank you.
You have this one 100% right.

For Maori to claim ownership of water, wind or other natural resources is preposterous.
(Seriously? They want to claim ownership of the air we breathe?)

No-one owns water.
Yes, we all use it and we all live because of it.

But nobody OWNS it - and no-one should own access to it either, with the potential to block others' from it.

Stand strong on this one for all New Zealanders.

No compromise.


The Welsh Kiwi.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Christchurch schools closing?

While I understand that there has been a drain of @ 4000 students from the Christchurch area, I do think the government's announcement today of 13 schools closing or merging with others is in reality an attempt to save money. Pure and simple.

I believe they are attempting to use the earthquake situation as a back door in to effectively do to Chch what the Labour govt did to Invercargill through the school review process and screw over the communities to save a buck (see lower down...)

The Shirley principal has a point however emotional you consider his response - to suddenly add 1300 students to Chch Boys is preposterous. 

But what about the other, smaller schools that have done nothing wrong except be caught in an earthquake. I know of one school that has had millions put into rebuilding and is now to simply be shut.

It concerns me that these smaller schools, without the pull of the big secondaries, will get crushed in the process (e.g. Manning Intermediate, for one - successive govts don't like intermediates).
Note to boards: Squeaky wheels get the grease!

Consider the effect on the students also, particularly the ones who have recently started school, just getting into a situation where they have come to love a new teacher, made new friends... 
How about the staff (support staff, admin, grounds, teaching...) who will be put through even more stress while Ms Parata and her cronies sit back in their comfortable seats congratulating each other on saving a few million...

Because - Fact: Big schools cost less to run than smaller schools, regardless of how much they mean to their respective communities.

But is the cost to a local community worth the penny pinching?
Look at the loss of small rural schools and the break-down of the surrounding rural communities as a result. (I accept that in many cases, this is a reality of smaller intakes - not enough students to feed the school. This is fair.)

However, I suspect Ms Parata is seizing an unexpected opportunity to win back some of the savings she embarrassingly (for her) had to give away by backtracking on the ridiculous bigger class sizes proposal... 

I'm sure she will come up with a brilliant strategy to disguise the truth, though. She and the other pollies will probably find a twist to prove it is an 'educationally sound' move and may even parade a tame educational specialist to back her theory.

But, Ms Parata, Mr Brownlee and our illustrious PM and all other politicians who are behind this proposal -  it is a bad move .

Last note: It has been hurriedly pointed out that this is a discussion document (yeah, right!) and no final decisions have been made.
If this is really the case, then I plead with the politicians to go into this with an open mind. I beg of you. Listen to the communities. They will be realistic. They can understand education (after all, they effectively run their schools) and they understand financial constraints. They will be honest about their schools.
Listen to them.

However I'm betting the politicians will  not easily change their minds.
In the Invercargill review Principals were told that the MoE would learn from earlier mistakes, would work WITH the community to see the best outcomes for the students were developed... 
The reality was that as long as the principals and schools agreed the MoE had the best way of doing it, it would be an easy process (and no, the money  saved would not be available to the remaining Invercargill schools / communities).

I must regretfully place my bet that the 'discussions' will have a similar note in Christchurch, too.
Any takers?

Thursday 30 August 2012


Listen carefully, people.

Hear that?

It is the sound of nails being firmly driven into the coffin of a decent, moral society...

Over the last few days, I have been following the direction our little country has been going - with a lot of concern.

1. Same sex marriages.

Last night a law allowing same sex marriages passes its first reading in parliament.
Marriage in any society I can think of (and I stand willing to be corrected) is between a man and a woman. We already allow civil unions which puts homosexuals and lesbians on an even legal footing with the heterosexuals in our community. So there is absolutely no need to redefine marriage.
I deplore the decisions of our politicians, even more so those responsible for even introducing the bill.


2. The legal drinking age.

Today the same politicians voted to keep the legal drinking age at 18.
This decision was made despite the evidence that the lower (18 years) drinking age has caused more grief in our communities than the 20 year age limit ever did.
Oh, I agree with the widely expressed views that the ready availability through corner dairies and the like has contributed, but studies have also shown the effect it has been having on our youth.
Binge drinking, more younger people gaining access to alcohol, higher death rates from drunk driving accidents...

Other arguments are that 18 year olds can vote, marry, fight for their country - and one young politician was seen on the news tonight saying that if they can do this, then surely they are entitled to a quiet beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Alcohol has nothing to do with those activities. Alcohol changes their thinking and behaviour. Young men in particular are still maturing.
I make no apologies for my views - but that isn't what they are doing.
A quiet beer at the end of the day?
The youth are binge drinking, getting smashed, driving on our roads and endangering themselves and others. Those who can legally buy are doing so and providing it to younger people.

The politicians have this one wrong too. You are consigning the youth of our community to a booze driven culture which, if you leave it much longer, you will not be able to change.


3. Adoption of children by same sex couples.

Drawn today in the ballot is a bill promoting the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

All our children have the right to be brought up by a father and a mother.

I have no doubts about the genuine desire of these couples but this, like the same sex marriage bill, is an attempt to make same sex relationships acceptable and be formally recognised as equal to heterosexual relationships and families.

No apologies. But they are not.

I deplore this decision by our politicians also, even more so those responsible for even introducing the bill.


4. And in the meantime...

The rich thrive and the poor get poorer.
Violence in our communities continues to increase.
The people in earthquake damaged homes wait while the powers that be revel in their beautiful new commercial district plans.
Convicted criminals get light sentences without thought by the courts for the effect they have had on their victims.

And so it goes on...

So... Listen carefully, people.

Hear that?

It is the sound of nails being firmly driven into the coffin of a decent, moral society...

Monday 20 August 2012

What justice system? I applaud our police.

There's been talk over the years that our justice system is going 'soft'.

And you know, when you read the 'social pages' (the court reports) it is hard to disagree. Our police do a damnably difficult job. Ever since some idiot judge decreed it was acceptable to tell a policeman to "F" off with no consequence, things have gone downhill.

The police have to stand and watch the criminals they arrest smirk and make obscene gestures as they walk out of court, with crimes of violence getting 'home detention' or '40 hours community service'. Fines go unpaid, and amongst youth it is becoming a bit of a bragging sheet to show how much you have in unpaid fines.

As for murder, the taking of another human's life... 
I agree that 'life imprisonment' should be 'life imprisonment', not just "10 years then if you're a good boy (or girl) we'll let you back out."

Not so good for the murder victim, or the victim of the rape / bashing who is scarred for the rest of their life nor, for that matter, their families and loved ones.

Actually, I may have a solution to this... (since we seem incapable of actually fulfilling a real life sentence).
Here's an example... 

Now, firstly, I'm going to base my theory on the biblical definition of a human lifespan - i.e. the "3 score and 10" or 70 years people are supposed to live.
So, let's say a person is murdered at the age of 23. Under current systems the killer may get 'life' and be out on the streets of our community again in say 12 - 15 years.

But what if the criminal / murderer was imprisoned for the remainder of what the dead person MAY have lived, which would make a non-parole period of 47 years in the example given?

That seems like real justice to me.

Most sentences appear to be a slap on the wrist and the result of the politically correct civil libertarians defending the rights of the criminal and not the victims. Okay, I'm not in court, I'm only reading what the media publish for me to read and I don't get to read all the detail behind the case (nor do I necessarily want to!).

But "I was drunk, your honour", "I was on drugs at the time", "I've had a hard life" and "My mummy didn't love me like she was supposed to" does not give the attacker a free 'get-put-of-jail' card. 
If they won't do it themselves, make these ferals take responsibility for their own behaviour.

We are bringing up another generation of kids who believe they can lay the blame (and responsibility) for their behaviour on someone / something else.

No. Life shouldn't work like that.
Make these criminals pay back what they took away.
Stop pussy-footing around with the politically correctness this country is suffering from these days.

Oh, and about those fines...
The kid doesn't pay the fine? Take the kid's car away. No first-second-third warning.

Or put in place a realistic automatic deduction from the kid's salary / wages / benefit / bank account. They don't get a choice. (And I'm not talking 10 cents a day - make it hurt... $50 a week... take away their booze money.)

Oh all right, I'll be generous... let's give the kid 24 hours to front up at the court with the total fine.
No political correctness. They broke the law - criminals have to learn there is a REAL consequence that falls on them for their behaviour.


The courts need to back the boys and girls in blue.

"The inmates are in control of the asylum"

Politicians and their jobs

I'm going to start with a quote from a Facebook page, then my response is below...

"When i voted for National I was not voting for asset sales including the sale of land and water. I was voting against policies being passed in government contrary to public support in a non-democratic way. I seem to have gotten the same. At the moment I, along with many other people, feel very disappointed with the direction of NZ politics...what has happened to democracy? Don't want to vote for either National or Labour."

And my response?

Unfortunately electors now think they are voting for parties and their policies, not voting for people to represent them. This is encouraged by the politicians for obvious reasons and they can then ignore the fact they have been elected to represent the views of their electors/electorates. I once asked an MP to speak out about an issue on my behalf but I was told he could make up his own mind and he would vote on the issue as he saw fit. Really???? 

I'm with you (name of writer deleted). Our parliamentary system has been hijacked and taken away from us. 

(Who was it who said "The inmates are in control of the asylum...")

Your thoughts?

Sunday 19 August 2012

Doctor Who is due back soon

There's lots of discussion on the boards about the new series, the departure of Amy, Rory, how does River become the Doctor's wife, the new companion etc etc etc...

In reality, there's only one thing to do and with the 50th anniversary coming up, it is the right time to do it.

It's simple.

It's logical.

It's important.

It has to happen.

Bring back the Time Lords.


It was done with the Daleks who were supposedly wiped out.
It can be done with The Time Lords

It can be done creatively.

(Are you listening, Mr Moffat?)

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Extinct Toys


Just to let people know we have finally managed to get our little website up and running.


"Extinct Toys"  is all about old fashioned wooden toys, with a few modern twists thrown in.
On our web page you will find samples of our work and you are welcome to contact us and order toys.
As we are only just starting up the ideas, we are testing different designs and welcome feedback from our customers about our products, especially ways of improving the toys

For materials we use recycled beech and rimu, some pine and any other old high quality wood we can put to a good use.

All toys use child and food-safe materials for coating:
  • Dulux™ and Resene™ water based paints
  • Ruskin's Danish Oil (child and food safe)
Glues used are PVA and a small amount of ADOS where we are joining different materials.

Our grand-daughter Hannah, her friends and parents test drive our products!

Many of our toys are new ideas and we are still sorting out costs.
We have to take into account the time involved and materials, but we are a small, part-time business so we don't expect our prices for the toys to be huge and increases would only happen when our costs go up.

Please note that we do not currently ship overseas.
Shipping costs very much depend where in NZ we are shipping to. At present we are arranging shipping costs on a per sale basis, but to be honest, picking up your purchases is much preferred! Get in touch with us about queries and we can make arrangements that suit.

If you have good quality timber you no longer need (e.g. old furniture, beds etc) and we can use the wood, we will happily collect and take it off your hands, providing the wood is useable and is in good condition (e.g. no borer)

Please get in touch with us for enquiries, suggestions for toys or ways to improve our products. We will do our best to make custom toys based on our ideas, yours or those of others (with permission, of course) to your specifications.

Monday 30 July 2012

New Zealand at the Olympics

Just a short comment today, sparked by our 'wonderful' media...

In NZ there is a lot of moaning about our lack of medals at Olympics. Now… one of our swimmers was in a final last night, finishing 7th, and one news commentator described her performance as 'disappointing'!

Grrrrr!!! Give me a strength!!!!

For heaven's sake, she was just in a race that has her in the top 8 in the WORLD - and yet we continue to belittle the efforts of our athletes when we don't win every time!

I have a dollar that says we will have an 'inquiry' after the Olympics to find out why we didn't beat everybody else.

Fact: there are more people living in Sydney than live in the whole of NZ!

Next, look at the achievements of our athletes, our All Blacks, netballers, rowers, soccer team in the World cup... and all those other athletes we produce.

You know, we do extremely well! Start to acknowledge them with pride kiwis!!!

Saturday 9 June 2012

Education - where we sit internationally...

From the NZ Teachers Council:
"New Zealand parents should be assured that our education system is high performing", according to Dr Peter Lind, the Director of the Teachers Council.
The latest OECD Report (2012): OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: New Zealand has confirmed this view.
Emeritus Professor Warwick Elley was reported recently as saying, "the reason it should provide us assurance is because the authors of this report are top experts from other OECD countries... Using a set of rich data, they are able to provide an independent, comparative perspective and are ideally placed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the New Zealandeducation system".
This view is confirmed by our rankings on The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). It is a worldwide study by the OECD of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. New Zealand consistently scores in the top half dozen OECD countries, even though, according to the evidence gathered by the OECD, we spend far less per student than nearly all of the other 34 OECD nations.
 The great majority of our students are repeatedly up with the best in the world. In the latest survey, New Zealand students were ranked fourth in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy and seventh in mathematical literacy.
"It is not easy to maintain these rankings andNew Zealand has consistently maintained its overall ranking on these measures since they were first introduced in 2000," said Dr Lind.
Three examples illustrate the significance ofNew Zealand's achievement. Australia has recorded a significant decline since 2000 on all the skills measured. England has slipped from seventh in 2000 to 25th in reading, eighth to 28th in maths and fourth to 16th in science. TheUnited States only rates around the average of all OECD countries.
"This reflects very favourably on the quality ofNew Zealand teachers."
However, it is true that the latest PISA survey still shows a wide dispersion of scores amongNew Zealand students.
"Lifting the performance of those New Zealandstudents that are underachieving must be a priority for our education system, but without allowing the slippage in our overall rankings as has recently occurred in Australia.
"To achieve this requires a strong commitment from the teaching profession and the Government in partnership. There are no silver bullets and a focus on a single variable will not achieve the goal intended. It will require dialogue and detailed consideration of any initiatives proposed," said Dr Lind.
I have nothing to add really... 
We can. We are. We do.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Performance Pay for teachers

I want to post a thought (or 3) on this one. It is a result of a comment made on air (source unknown) where it was suggested that the national standards would be a good way to measure teachers' performance. (Please remember the National Standards were NOT developed with the full involvement of teacher professionals and were NOT trialled to see if they were any good or would even be successful.)

So, here's an hypothetical situation...

Teacher A has 20 11 year old students who have good literacy skills. In fact they all have a reading age of 11 years when they hit his classroom. Let's assume for the sake of this argument the national standards require all these children to be reading at 12 years by the end of the year in which they turn 12. Not unreasonable?
Teacher A works hard and moves all his charges on by that year of growth and all achieve the standard by the end of year.

(Stay with me here...)

Teacher B also has 20 11 year old students, but these children have a poor background in literacy and have reading ages ranging from 7 to 9. Teacher B works just as hard with these children and manages to get them ALL up to an 11 year reading age. Some have improved their literacy scores by the equivalent of 4 years over the 12 months!

However the standard says they should all be reading at 12 years. Teacher B has, therefore, failed.
Performance pay goes to Teacher A as his students have all reached the standard.

I know, it's simplistic, but it is another example of why performance pay needs to be treated with extreme care. I mentioned yesterday the experiences students come into the classroom with - some have wider, more developmental experiences than others. No matter how 'good' a teacher is, you cannot guarantee the same can of baked beans at the end of the process.

Many of the public are not aware that we ALREADY HAVE excellent, robust appraisal systems in place. (The government doesn't want you to know this... spread the word!) Registered Teacher Criteria have been 'upgraded'.

Good teachers are right there in front of your children every day. Ms Parata wants you to believe every teacher a child works with should be remembered, as adults, as a great teacher. They probably already are, but I respected and liked teachers in different ways. Some made learning easier, some 'taught' well, some made contact on a level that can't be easily described, helping me grow and guiding me as I grew, others inspired me in their subjects through their own passion.

It doesn't mean they didn't perform because I didn't get a pass in Latin. Maybe the teacher was great - and I was just c**p at Latin?

Tread carefully on performance pay. Yes, we all want great teachers.
But consider this... are they already there?

Here's a thought...

"This a shoot first and ask questions later government." I like that quote.
Here's an idea Ms Parata. Treat our country's professional educationalists as just that - professionals. Actually consult with us BEFORE making decisions that affect the education of all New Zealand's youth. We can contribute more than you want the public to believe.
Then you can make informed decisions based on what's best for education, not what's best for party politics.

Just a thought...

This post is a result of reading the following online link:

Education in New Zealand. A few thoughts.

Can our Prime Minister explain why he supported an increase in class sizes in state schools (where the vast majority of NZ children attend school) when he is on record as saying that he would send his own children to a private school because they have smaller class sizes and are better resourced than state schools?

Also, why are these "well resourced" private schools given additional state funding by our government - money that could be saved without detriment to our state schools?

Unfortunately education in New Zealand has become a political football. We are in the top group of OECD countries for our education system and yet politicians, particularly around election time, keep telling us we are failing our children, our teachers aren't up to the job and, if we will only vote them in, they will fix everything.

Much has also been made of the fact that 1 in 5 children are 'failing' (sorry, I really don't know the source of that statistic - I only know it is quoted just about every day at the moment by just about every politician I hear speaking about our schools)

FACT: We have a very good education system
FACT: No education system will ever get 100% success

This is not because we have poor teachers although the politicians would love to make you think this is the case.
Each student is an individual. They have their own strengths and abilities. They come to school with different backgrounds and skills and experiences. We cannot produce identical cans of baked beans from different raw materials.

We CAN help each student to be the best they can.
We can. We are. We do.

Last thought... I honestly have yet to meet even ONE person who is critical of teachers (you know the comments - good pay, 9 to 3 work hours, awesome holidays) who would actually do the job.
They don't want a bar of it.

"Those who can, teach. Those who can't pretend to be experts in education and try to tell the teachers how to do their job."

At a politician's whim...

The NZ Government has reversed an appalling decision to increase class sizes as a money saving idea in the latest budget. What bugs me is why we have to kick up such a fuss to get politicians to do the right thing. They should be doing it anyway. This U-turn is not an educational one, sadly. It is a political decision. Our children's futures are being decided based on the ambitions of a group of politicians. (That's my rant for today!)

Friday 11 May 2012

2012 - and a fresh start!

2012... Okay, a little behind the times... but hey, we're back.
To be honest this is just a placeholder while i get my head around the changes in look, organisation etc here at Blogspot (Blogger).

I'll back soon...