Educational Reform Commentary March 2019

8 March 2019 – Message from the Board of Trustees

Dear Parents and Caregivers

As the Board of Trustees of Kohimarama School we are writing to inform you about the current review of Tomorrow’s Schools commissioned by the Government. The review has produced a report which includes 32 detailed recommendations for education in New Zealand. It proposes radical change to the way schools are governed and managed and would have a significant impact on Kohimarama School.

In addition to the summary below, we encourage you to read the report and if you have views, to submit these to the process by Sunday 7th April 2019. Links to the report online, on how to make a submission, other online resources, and upcoming public meetings are provided over the page.

Summary of the Haque Report

In April 2018, the Tomorrow’s Schools Review Independent Taskforce was appointed by the Minister of Education to carry out a review of the compulsory schooling sector.

The review’s conclusions recently published in the “Haque Report” include the following:

  1. Although many students do well at school on some outcome measures, the system is not working well enough for our most disadvantaged children and young people.
  2. The current self-governing schools model has not raised student achievement or improved equity in New Zealand – in fact the performance of our students has plateaued and in some areas deteriorated.
  3. The gap between the best performing and worst performing students has widened. Children from disadvantaged homes, too many Maori and Pacific families, and those with significant additional Iearning needs remain those most poorly served by the system.
  4. Parent choice and resulting competition has increased inequity / inequality in educational and other outcomes across New Zealand.
  5. Tomorrow’s Schools is a “failed experiment” and New Zealand must move away from its’ current decentralised model of self-governing schools to a centralised one.

In response to these findings the report makes 32 recommendations across 8 key issues.

Our Concerns

The Kohimarama Board of Trustees has concerns about the implications of many of these recommendations for our students and our school community, and for education in New Zealand.

  • The report does not provide a convincing case for radical change. It relies on generalisations about the state of school education in New Zealand to justify wide-sweeping change. While it identifies some problems in the current system, it does not provide convincing explanations as to how its recommendations will solve these problems.
  • The recommendations do not support school boards that are operating well – ignoring that many schools are highly successful. While we strongly support schools that need further assistance receiving it, this should not Iimit the ability of successful schools to continue to manage themselves.
  • The promotion of a centralised ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for all schools fails to recognise the rich diversity of schools in NZ. In particular we have strong misgivings about the proposal to create twenty ‘Education Hubs’ that would establish a central government bureaucratic
    structure to assume significant control of the 125 schools each of the hubs would manage. This would include educational outcomes, zones and out-of-zone enrolments, finances and employment of the principal.
  • We do not believe that the education outcomes of our school are best served by being part of an Education Hub along with 124 other schools, effectively taking control of schools away from their local communities. This is a radical shift from the status quo and the report does not provide research or data to validate that a centralised model will improve student outcomes in all 2,431 schools across NZ.
  • The cost of implementing the proposed changes will be significant. Our concern is that cloning the current Ministry of Education into twenty ‘mini-ministries’ is unnecessary and expensive, and it is unproven that this will improve the level of service to schools and their students. We believe that the emphasis on any reforms should be on improving the focus, level and quality of central support in a targeted way for the schools that need it.

In summary, the Kohimarama School Board of Trustees does not believe that the current self-governing model of education in New Zealand is fundamentally flawed. It has worked very well for many schools, including ours. There is clearly inequality in our society that is reflected in the educational outcomes of some students in New Zealand, and there are also schools which struggle with managing school operations. However, we do not agree that the creation of twenty bureaucratic ‘hubs’ that will assume the control of all schools away from local communities is the answer for these specific needs.

Instead our view is that the tools to address the challenges within New Zealand education already exist, and urge the Government to target additional resources and support to those schools that need it, rather than creating a new and expensive Iayer of bureaucracy.

The Kohimarama Board of Trustees will be submitting these views as feedback to the official process. We would recommend that parents and caregivers take the time to read the report and to consider whether they would also like to submit their views on the report.

Yours sincerely

Simon Tucker and Paul Engles
Chairperson BOT and Principal

How you can have your say…

Read the report: