1 Mar 2013

School survey finds lower morale, funding worries

3:17 pm on 1 March 2013

A major survey shows secondary schools are in a worse state than they were three years ago.

The Council for Educational Research study carried out in 2012 found staff morale had declined and most principals reported that their school's finances and relations with the Ministry of Education had deteriorated.

More than 1200 teachers responded to the survey and 57% said they felt good about their job, down from 70% in 2009.

More than a third - 37% - said they cannot meet the needs of all their students.

Half of New Zealand's secondary principals also responded. Of those, only 5% said government funding for their school was sufficient. Two-thirds said their finances were worse last year than in 2011.

The Council for Educational Research said the survey shows secondary schools have worked hard to improve students' NCEA pass rates in recent years, but the system is under strain.

Chief researcher Dr Cathy Wylie said the survey shows secondary schools are under pressure and need more support. She said the study was done before the Novopay difficulties.

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Angela Roberts said the study shows a mismatch between how much the Government wants to provide and what the community and board trustees believe is sufficient school funding.

Ms Roberts said the ability to collaborate and innovate improves teachers' morale and some policies and structures in education are stifling both of those things.

An education expert said the findings of the survey that reveals government funding for secondary schools has dropped are cause for alarm.

John Freeman-Moir from Canterbury University said it shows schools need far greater financial help than they are getting and called on the Education Ministry to act.

Dr Freeman-Moir said it is extremely worrying that the survey shows one in four principals are spending a lot of time steering their school back from deficit when they should be concentrating on more important professional issues.