Is Bill English making it up as he goes along or is there a master plan? It is widely accepted in Wellington that Bill English is the driving force of education reform in NZ, with Hekia Parata doing the hands-on work.

What emerged just before Easter was a detail in the on-going review of the Education Act. It very much looks like an attempt to downgrade the status of educators in schools.

The Ministry released two ‘Update’ proposals. One proposes putting more emphasis on National Standards data, a known Bill English favourite.

The second asks, ‘Should principals and staff reps be voting members of Boards?’ NZEI member leaders believe they should. They are concerned that the government wants to remove the voice of professionals from partnership with parents at governance level.

The proposals ostensibly come out of the 1800 submissions made on the original consultation documents. Given that the majority of submissions were from educators, it seems highly unlikely that there was an overwhelming demand for this.

So why do this? Is it part of a master plan that educators and parents aren’t privy to? I know, that does sound conspiratorial, but it’s hard to work out what is really going on when these random announcements appear out of the blue (PLD changes, new leadership models, the funding review, etc etc).

It follows close on the heals of some rather mysterious behaviour from the School Trustees Association. A couple of years ago, STA got an extra $14m from government and it has since used it to beef up its HR function for boards. At the end of 2014, STA signed an MOU with then then Teachers Council which, among other things, ‘enables shared understanding between both parties’.

One theory is that Bill English believes there are large numbers of incompetent teachers in the profession. A high-up and ‘well-connected’ ministry official was heard to say in a recent meeting that ‘only 1 in 5 teachers is any good’. One way of putting these pieces together suggests that English wants it to be easier for Boards to sack teachers.

The only snippet of good news in this is that educators can give feedback on the proposal – by April 8 no less. If the response is overwhelmingly against then surely English must acknowledge there is no mandate for it?