Time to take another look

Issue: Volume 94, Number 20

Posted: 9 November 2015
Reference #: 1H9cxo

The Education Act 1989 has served education well in the 26 years since it became law, but a lot has changed since then. It’s time to take another look at the Act, to see how it can better fit our modern educational environment, and help raise achievement for all children and young people. Minister of Education Hekia Parata launched a public consultation on November 2, which runs until December 14.

An online consultation

Have your say about the proposals at consultation.education.govt.nz(external link). The online consultation includes an introductory video from the Minister, background information, and links to a 13-page discussion document. There are questions to help guide your submission and you can either respond directly online or upload a submission from your computer.

There will also be a series of regional meetings and hui to discuss what is being proposed. 

Submissions and feedback from meetings will be considered along with other evidence and firmer proposals will be developed early in 2016. With Cabinet’s approval, a Bill will be introduced to Parliament in 2016, and consultation will be invited via the Parliamentary select committee process.

The Minister is asking for the views of everyone involved with education in New Zealand – students, teachers, administrators, academics, trustees, and families and whānau.

What are the proposals for discussion?

Making sure everyone knows the goals for education

The Act doesn’t clearly say what the education goals for our children and young people are. It should clearly set out enduring goals for education, and enable the Government to say what it thinks is most important. This will help clarify for schools and kura what is expected of them, so they can be sure that their planning and practice in the classroom is focused on the right things.

There are already some goals within the education system. The New Zealand Curriculum says 'Young people will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners’. Te Marautanga o Aotearoa says ‘The learner achieves their potential’.

Have your say:

  •  What should the goals for education be?
  •  What process should be used for setting a national priorities statement for early learning and schooling?
  •  Supporting boards to focus on what’s important

The Act doesn’t clearly say what boards of Trustees are expected to do. Nor does it list their roles and responsibilities. Current expectations for planning and reporting involve a lot of work and don’t always highlight the right things. We think this could be made simpler and clearer.

Schools and kura could be allowed to work together on their planning and reporting. Those that are doing well could be given more freedom and extra decision-making rights. This would be balanced by monitoring schools, kura and Communities of Learning carefully and being more clear about what will happen if things go off track.

Have your say:

  •  What should the roles and responsibilities of a school or kura board be?
  •  What changes could be made to simplify planning and reporting?
  •  How can we better provide for groups of schools and kura to work together more to plan and report?
  •  How should schools and kura report on their performance and children and young people’s achievement to parents, families, whānau and communities?
  •  What should the indicators and measures be for school performance and student achievement and  wellbeing?
  •  What freedoms and extra decision-making rights could be given to schools, kura and Communities of Learning that are doing well?

Enabling collaboration, flexibility and innovation

Communities of Learning are an exciting new way of thinking about raising achievement within and between early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary providers. The Act could do more to encourage collaboration and support schools and kura by providing greater flexibility for working together, including sharing governance arrangements.

The Act could allow cohort entry, and make attendance compulsory once a child has started school, even before they turn six.

Have your say:

  •  What ways could boards work more closely together?
  •  What do you think about schools and kura having the flexibility to introduce cohort or group entry?
  •  What do you think about making attendance compulsory for children once they have started school or kura before they turn six years old?

Making every school and kura a great one

Every school needs to be a great school, and while most are doing well, some need more help. The Ministry of Education sees advantages in being able to step in earlier, with a system of graduated interventions that help to get schools back on track well before problems become serious.

Have your say:

What additional supports or responses could be used to address problems that arise in schools and kura?

Making the best use of local education provision

Area strategies are developed to make sure that all children and young people are well served by education and money is spent in the right places. When changes are needed because of population shifts or when a different mix of schools is required, a clearer process for setting area strategies would help families and whānau understand what is happening and why. A set of guiding principles for changing schooling arrangements could be put in the Act.

Enrolment schemes could be fine-tuned to allow the Ministry of Education to put one in place if a school has not. The circumstances in which the Ministry would override an enrolment scheme could be made clearer.

Have your say:

  •  How should area strategies be decided, and how should schools, kura and communities be consulted?
  •  What should be taken into account when making decisions about opening, merging or closing schools?
  •  What do you think about the proposed changes to improve how enrolment schemes are managed?


View the proposals in more detail, and make your submission at consultation.education.govt.nz(external link)

You can also email a submission, or ask questions at education.update@education.govt.nz or write to:

Education Act Update
Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666
Wellington 6140 
New Zealand 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:36 pm, 9 November 2015

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