Reform of the Tomorrow’s Schools system: Supporting all schools to succeed

Issue: Volume 98, Number 20

Posted: 22 November 2019
Reference #: 1HA2vW

The Government’s decisions in response to the final report of the Independent Taskforce’s review of Tomorrow’s Schools include more frontline support for schools.

On Tuesday, 12 November, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced the Government’s decisions in response to the final report of the Independent Taskforce’s review of Tomorrow’s Schools – the name given to the reforms that changed the governance, management and administration of our schools nearly 30 years ago. 

The Government’s reform of the Tomorrow’s Schools system, inspired by the Taskforce’s recommendations, will put more frontline support closer to schools to give every child the best chance to succeed, said Hipkins in his announcement.

Key decisions are:

  • More frontline support for schools through a new education agency, as part of a redesigned Ministry of Education.
  • More support for principals and school boards, including through a new centre of leadership and local leadership advisor roles.
  • New independent disputes panels for parents and students.
  • Management of school property simplified and/or transferred to the Ministry to free up boards’ time. 
  • Enrolment zones to be managed locally, not by each school.

The Government’s decisions followed extensive consultation, which culminated in recommendations received from an Independent Taskforce in July. The changes will need to be managed in a coherent and connected way over the next ten years.

“The 1989 Tomorrow’s Schools reform introduced one of the world’s most devolved schooling systems where each school operates largely in isolation of each other,” said Hipkins. 

“It empowered local communities and modernised an overly bureaucratic system but also led over time to uneven outcomes between schools. 

“That has meant young people in some areas have missed out, and it’s been particularly challenging for Māori, Pacific peoples, and people with disabilities and additional learning needs. 

“This is reflected in a 2018 UNICEF report ranking New Zealand 33rd out of 38 developed countries for overall educational equality.”

Hipkins said that the changes were not about more centralised decision-making or smothering schools that already perform well but more about combining the strengths that come from empowered local communities with a stronger, better-connected and less-bureaucratic overall system that can make every school in New Zealand a great school to go to.

“These changes will influence how the Government’s annual $9.5 billion schooling budget is spent so that all schools will be better-placed to succeed, with better targeted and earlier support provided at many different levels, stronger leadership support structures, more collaboration between schools and a reset of the relationship between schools and the Ministry,” said Hipkins.

Opportunity for meaningful change

Associate Minister for Education Kelvin Davis said in a press release that the Government’s decisions also provide an opportunity to create meaningful change for ākonga Māori and their whānau.

“Last year, through Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation, Māori teachers, parents, ākonga, whānau, hapū and iwi told us what they thought was most important in Māori education. We have listened, and this year, we have acted to give effect to these things,” Davis said. 

“Lifting achievement for Māori students is a priority for our Government and we have already taken practical steps to achieve this, through initiatives like Te Ahu o te Reo Māori and Te Hurihanganui and our funding boost for Kōhanga Reo.

“With these reforms we are taking further steps to give practical effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and we will be holding the system to account to deliver more and better for Māori,” said Davis. 

He said that schools will be asked to:

  • take all reasonable steps to eliminate racism, stigma, bullying and discrimination within their schools
  • ensure that their plans, policies and local curriculum reflect local tikanga, mātauranga Māori and Te Ao Māori; and focus on achieving equitable outcomes for Māori students
  • take reasonable steps to provide instruction in tikanga Māori and te reo Māori to all learners.

Davis added that the Education Ministry will develop:

  • advice about how to strengthen Māori and iwi engagement in school governance, as a priority by June 2020
  • a Māori Medium Network Plan for the next decade to strengthen the Māori medium pathway and an education workforce strategy to ensure teacher supply for the Māori medium pathway.

“We have a plan with an eye on supporting better outcomes for ākonga Māori and their whānau and we must continue work to give life to these reforms,” he concluded.

For more information on the Government’s announcement, including the Taskforce’s final report and the full report of the Government’s final decisions, please visit the Tomorrow’s Schools Review section of the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation(external link) website.

The website also includes information for principals, leaders and teachers, as well as information that can be shared with ākonga/learners, parents and whānau.

 Tommorow's School Review

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:17 AM, 22 November 2019

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