President’s Report 2017

President Report

AGM Thursday 12 October 2017

Science Technician’s role & responsibilities within our schools are becoming greater. We are more and more often called upon to know & demonstrate experiments. We need to learn the practical part of the entire science curriculum, we are relied upon to know which experiments belong to which level/subject and we are often guiding teachers about what is and what is not allowable. We are asked to suggest safer or more workable alternatives and it is now more likely that it is us, and not the teacher, who ensures that unsafe practices don’t occur (as much as possible).

 

As we do constantly practice the appropriate Health & Safety procedures within our Science Technician roles (we are often unsupervised and alone in our work), being safe and sensible for our schools are characteristic skills that can be applied to all of us.

 

Science Technicians also share our collective knowledge via Scitech Talk (STANZ list-serv) and our newsletter ‘Tech Tonic’ as well as having our website resources available for all Technicians to access. Positive feedback from the other NZASE organisations, BEANZ, Chem Ed  etc has thanked us for our freely available support, advice and ideas, obtained by their schools Technicians via Scitech Talk.

 

We keep up to date on the latest changes to practical secondary science and safety and the Executive team monitors any information presented. This information is often checked for validity and we will challenge any information that we know to be incorrect.

 

We continue to use two main documents in our role to help us keep our students and staff safe.

The Safety in Science (first published in 1997, revised in 2000) manual from the Ministry of Education and the Code of Practice for School Exempt Laboratories (COP) (2007).

Most NZ Science Technicians are aware of these and refer to them often.

 

The recent Ministry of Education funded NZASE Guidance to the Code of Practice for School Exempt Laboratories overlaid with information about duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (2016) resource has caused confusion and frustration amongst our members and their schools. Many of us were anticipating a rewrite of the COP with corrections of previously known errors of which the Ministry had been made aware. Now we have a COP and a Guide to the COP with substantial repeated & new errors.  Having said that, the Guide is very useful in clarifying responsibilities of specific school personnel and we do appreciate the efforts to produce the document with limited information whilst awaiting updated Hazardous Substances Regulations.

 

STANZ observes the statement in the document preface that it “makes no guarantee of its completeness as the Hazardous Substances Regulations have not yet been released. When the Regulations are released this resource will be further updated. NZASE and the Ministry of Education are not responsible for the results of any action taken on the basis of information in this guidance, or for any errors or omissions.”

 

STANZ Inc. would gladly accept any opportunity to be included in any future changes or additions to the COP, Guide to the COP or any other literature that directly affects our tasks as Science Technicians.

 

Recently a Royal Society Report on the Science Technician Workforce has been conducted and presented. STANZ Inc. were delighted to be included. Executive team member, David Cook represented us in the Expert Reference Group for the project. STANZ Inc. has thanked NZASE for suggesting our inclusion and the Royal Society for hearing about us and subsequently involving us, not only in the development of the report but also in strategies going forwards to try to improve the numbers of students pursuing careers as Science Technicians.

 

This report, along with the data from Ian de Stigter and Michelle Kiernan’s (Mt. Albert Grammar) 2017 Science Technician Workforce survey will inform the Executive’s future work on a new job description for Science Technicians, provide supporting evidence for our stance on pay upgrades etc. As well as allowing us to track any progress made over the last 10 years. A concern we may need to address is schools continuing to hire unqualified persons (lacking the qualifications or experience) that is needed for the modern Science Technician role.

 

STANZ Inc. hugely appreciates the NZASE Scholarships offered to our mutual members, to assist with their attendance costs for ConSTANZ 2017, our biennial conference which is being held, 10 – 12 October 2017  at Kamo High School in Whangarei.

In addition, this year STANZ Inc. have been able to provide full fare ‘STANZ Get Me To ConSTANZ!’ grants to two Technicians who have not attended a ConSTANZ before. Our North Island recipient is Jacqui Binnie from Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt and our South Island recipient is Nicola Everett from Kaikorai Valley College in Dunedin. And our first Registration only grant recipient Homadokht (Dokhy) – Ayoubi from New Plymouth Girls’ High School in New Plymouth.

 

The Kay Memmott Award for Excellence was set up to recognise those who work to help other Science Technicians. There are many unsung heroes amongst us and this is our chance to recognise them and the work they have done. It has been an honour for me to present our third Kay Memmott Award for Excellence at this ConSTANZ.

Since our very first conference in Wellington in 2001 (organised by RSNZ & NZASE) we’ve been to (biennially in order): Napier, Christchurch, Hamilton, Auckland, Dunedin, Rotorua, Nelson and now Whangarei.  The next ConSTANZ is our 10th Conference. That is a huge milestone for us that I hope many of you will attend to help us celebrate.

The 2015-17 Executive has been a brilliant team. I sincerely thank each and every one of them for their many hours of voluntary work for STANZ Inc.

As I wind up my term as President of STANZ Inc. and move to the Past President role, I am looking forward to working with our new President and Executive team. I know they will go on to work hard on your behalf, to continue to improve the collective knowledge, standing and recognition of NZ Science Technicians.

 

Sheryl Fitzsimons

President 2015-2017

Science Technicians’ Association of NZ Inc.