Written By: - Date published: 9:08 am, December 9th, 2018 - 58 comments
Categories: child welfare, Deep stuff, education, greens, labour, national, nz first, Politics, poverty, same old national, schools - Tags:
The Government has kicked off a debate about the future of education with some radical proposals for change.
The proposals are recorded in the report prepared by the Tomorrow’s Schools independent taskforce. One of those taskforces that the opposition loves to hate on the grounds that they are talkfests and will achieve nothing.
Well they better rethink because this particular report will cause fundamental changes to our education system if enacted. And I hope they are.
The review comes with this video:
The report has identified eight key issues:
There are a couple of stand out proposals, the establishment of area hubs which will work with boards of trustees but take over more management responsibility, and the greater enforcement of zoning arrangements. The intent is that schools within an area should be more cooperative, poaching of students should not happen and kids should go to their local schools.
The proposals in relation to zoning include:
This proposal will no doubt cause some angst at least amongst those schools will face the most adverse effects although the hub proposal has attracted the most attention so far.
The Headmaster of Auckland Grammar does not like the proposed changes. From Radio New Zealand:
Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O’Connor says proposed reforms to the education system are a direct and serious attack on state education.
The independent Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce has made recommendations on eight key issues it says will make our education system more fair.
They include changing school boards so they can focus on students, curriculum and assessment.
The taskforce said competition was damaging schools.
It recommended introducing 20 regional hubs that would run groups of schools, hire principals, and support teachers.
The union for school teachers, New Zealand Educational Institute, said the proposed reforms schools put children at the centre of education.
But Mr O’Connor said the proposed changes would set education back 30 years.
He said parents would be disempowered if functions of school boards were moved to education hubs.
“So they lose all governance responsibilities; they have nothing to do with school finances; they have nothing to do with school property.
“Effectively what they [the taskforce] need to be honest about is they’re not a board of trustees; they’re an advisory group at best.”
He said he and others would work to oppose the proposed changes.
National’s initial response is cautious although already you can see them building up a mantra that the reforms take away powers from ordinary hard working New Zealanders, just like those who are currently on the board of Auckland Grammar.
I am sure that Auckland Grammar with its surfeit of lawyer and accountant old boys will find the governance fine no matter what. But it is the zoning where the interest will be. And the right is getting its rhetoric ready.
Briar Lipson from the think tank, the New Zealand Initiative, is concerned that reducing competition between schools will reduce incentives for them to lift their performance.
“If we’re not careful, we will end up with a system that does not demand much of schools and students and disempowers the most important force for good in children’s lives, which is their parents and communities,” Ms Lipson said.
She would like to see mechanisms to allow good schools to take over schools that perform poorly.
The comment is resplendit with the market knows best propaganda. More competition, not more resources is the way for schools to improve themselves and sort themselves out.
Strip away the rhetoric and the reality is that the market driven approach is failing our kids. A 2017 article by Simon Collins in the Herald provides sobering reading. It started with this passage:
Emeritus Professor Warwick Elley worries that New Zealand’s education system is failing an entire generation.
“I worry that it’s a dumbing down of a whole population of students,” he says.
When Elley chaired the international steering committee for one of the first world literacy surveys, in 1990, Kiwi students came fourth.
A decade later, when the Programme for International Students Assessment (Pisa) started testing 15-year-olds, NZ students came second only to Finland in reading, third in maths, and sixth-equal in science.
But it has been downhill ever since. In six three-yearly Pisa surveys, the most recent (2015) reported last December, each group of NZ students has scored lower than the group that went before them in both reading and maths.
Over Pisa’s 15-year history New Zealand’s average score for maths has dropped by more than any other country (down 42 points), closely followed by Australia (down 39 points).
Our average for reading has dropped by 20 points, a steeper fall than in all except three countries (Britain, Australia and Iceland).
Even in science, where we have had ups as well as downs, our average is down 15 points since 2000, although eight other countries including Australia declined more.
Of course it is too simplistic to blame one thing, tomorrow’s schools, on this decline. Increasing child poverty and a more unequal society no doubt has also had its effect on the result. But clearly our current education model is not working for all kids and we owe it to them to do better.
Get ready, I suspect this is going to be one hell of a debate. But it is one that for our kids and grandkids we have to win.