National is initiating a review of education. Jolly good, what’s that about? Let’s see:
Education review to ask big questions
The government has begun a review of the Education Act and it is asking the most fundamental question of all – what is education for?
That’s the kind of question that is supposed to sound profound but isn’t, because we know the answer. Education is for helping people equip themselves with the knowledge and skills that they need to function in society, and ideally to become independent and critical thinkers for life. (A rather better fundamental question would be – What is government for? – because this lot are failing at some pretty major requirements. But I digress.)
What has been suggested for the review at this stage appears to be tinkering because resourcing and the Nats’ recent sacred cows are off the table:
Principals or boards could govern multiple schools under education revamp
More principals and boards of trustees may soon be able to lead multiple schools under a review of education legislation. … Other potential changes include having 5-year-olds start school in “cohorts” on set dates, rather than on their individual birthdays. … Changes suggested include removing “unnecessary red tape” from school boards, possibly having some govern multiple schools.
It was made clear in the discussion document that previously controversial policies regarding National Standards, charter schools, and the recently revamped teacher governing body – Education Council – were off the table for discussion. Any changes likely to increase the Government’s nearly $11 billion budget on education were also off the table, it said.
The Green’s response is covered in the same piece:
Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said the proposed review was a “farce” that removed anything from discussion that involved more money, or challenging controversial policies recently introduced.
The review looked like it would find new ways to blame schools in poor areas for the lower achievement of their pupils, she said.
“Schools working with the poorest children in New Zealand, and often with large numbers of kids with special needs, need more support from the minister, not more threats.”
It appeared schools with wealthy children would be rewarded, while those with disadvantaged schools would be punished, she said.
Labour’s response is here:
Review timely but ineffective without funding
A review of education law is timely but the Government must ensure it is a genuine examination of New Zealand’s education system and the future needs of schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
“Schools need more support to deliver the national curriculum. The support they receive from the Ministry of Education has been diminishing. “Taking funding structures off the table will only ensure this review is a whitewash.
“When National came to office they promised to increase frontline staff. However the opposite is happening. “New figures obtained by Labour show frontline staff have fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2009/10 to 40.5 per cent in 2013/14. Over the same period the number of back office staff rose from 56.5 per cent to 59.5 per cent.
“Meanwhile the Ministry has increased its spending on public relations staff by almost 200 per cent since to $2.5 million.
“This review comes as Hekia Parata publicly muses about linking school funding to student achievement. However, she refuses to give any details about her plans. …
Submissions on the Education Act review close on 14 December. Information about how to make a submission is here.