By: Derek Cheng
• The Tomorrow’s Schools Review is part of the Government’s Education Work Programme, led by an Independent Taskforce to set recommendations on the future of schooling. Its report was released today.
What’s the problem?
• Achievements in maths, science and reading are plateauing, while performance in other areas are declining.
• The current school system is failing some students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds including Maori and Pacific students, and those with disabilities and additional learning needs.
• The gap between the best and worst performing schools is widening.
• Principals feel isolated, teachers unsupported.
• Enrolment schemes can be blatantly unfair.
• Boards of Trustees shoulder too much responsibility and should be more focused on student well-being and achievement.
• The report, which follows five months of nationwide consultation, says the Board of Trustees model has created a ‘my school’ mentality of unhealthy competition that has led to inequity. If this is not addressed through a transformational change, the economic and social consequences will be dire.
What does the report recommend?
• Scrapping the 10 Ministry of Education regional offices and setting up 20 education hubs to each have oversight of about 125 schools.
• Hubs would oversee a more collaborative approach to benefit all students in the hub. It would handle property management (though this can be delegated back to schools), health and safety issues and HR, including hiring principals – though boards have veto power.
• Principals can be shared across schools within a hub.
• Hubs would provide professional teacher support for curriculum and assessment, and leadership advisers to work with principals.
• Hubs would decide student suspensions and also deal with complaints from student and parents, who often feel powerless in the current model.
• Hubs would also provide smaller schools with services that they often lack, including IT, accounting and procurement advice.
• Look at a national kaupapa Maori hub
What else, besides hubs?
• Improve student pathways and look at scrapping intermediate schools
• Limit the number of out-of-zone enrolments
• Limit donations that schools can ask for.
• A learning support coordinator for every school for those with additional learning needs.
• A workforce strategy to have as much diversity among teachers as the students they teach.
• A national leadership centre for developing and supporting principals.
• Ditching the decile system for an equity index, so disadvantaged schools get the money they deserve.
• Setting up an independent Education Evaluation Office, to report to Parliament annually, to monitor the whole system and cut duplication across the ERO, NZQA and Education Ministry.
What would it look like for parents and students?
•A more community-based school system with a collaborative approach to groups of schools, and where parents and students have more agency, with the ability to lay complaints with hubs.
How much will it cost?
•The changes would take three to five years to put in place and need political consensus. The report does not have an estimate on costs, and the Taskforce says costing is an important part of the next consultation phase.
•The taskforce is seeking feedback on its recommendations. Consultation is now open until April 7, 2019.