Consultation on education reform

The Government is proposing major changes to how schools are administered.

From December:  Minister wants ‘wider discussion’ on proposed schooling changes

The Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce is proposing significant changes to the way our schools are run, governed, and managed to ensure every student receives the best quality education in future, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“The next four and half months until April 7, 2019 provides opportunity for the wider public discussion we are seeking.

“Now is the chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on building a schooling system that meets the needs of all students, educators and parents, and that is fit for purpose for the 21st century.

“The Taskforce will lead the consultation, and report on the results. The Government will make decisions on implementing the review in mid-2019,” Chris Hipkins said.

A full copy of Our Schooling Futures: Stronger Together | Whiria Ngā Kura Tūātinitini is available here.

There is alternative consultation going on.

Big Read (NZH): One night with the man who could change all your children’s futures

Bali Haque’s got the electricity of a preacher. He’s an education evangelist with a fire in his eyes.

“We have a world class education system,” says the academic-principal-teacher leading the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce.

He’s on the road, from the south of the country to the north and back again, telling people why this “world class education system” needs to become something completely different.

The reason?

“In this country, we have a really significant issue with equity,” he says.

Haque is speaking in the Kerikeri High School library, the Far North’s centre of relatively comfortable affluence where citizens know all about equity. They are well aware they enjoy a life different from the abject poverty which eats at the heart of almost all Far North towns.

The gap between poor and rich has grown to a chasm. School is one place where foundations are laid to bridge that gap.

“The gap between best performing and least-well performing is large. And it is stubborn.”

And there’s the problem. The 1989 promise of former Prime Minister David Lange’s
Tomorrow’s Schools has not been realised. Our 2500 parent-led schools have developed a host of different answers to the question every child poses, which is: Who is the best person you can be?

He tells the 30 people in the audience: “We are good at innovation but have a problem with scaling up, or sustaining innovation.”

And so, if we are to have an education revolution – this biggest school shake up in 30 years – then it needs to happen in a way which lasts.

“It’s our view one of the reasons we have this stubborn gap is the system we are working in.”

Having listed his Five Great Truths, Haque is off and painting a picture with words of a new system of schooling.

These meetings are happening across New Zealand this month and next. By the time they have finished, Haque and the other four people on the Taskforce will have given or heard this talk 33 times, from New Plymouth on Valentine’s Day to Palmerston North on March 27.

There are around 800,000 children in our primary-through-secondary education system. If Haque gets his way, these changes will have a dramatic effect on how they are educated, and how their children will be educated.

Haque hasn’t just redesigned our school system. He’s drafting a fresh blueprint for our future.

And yet, there are just 30 people in the Kerikeri High School library. Of those, 25 people are teachers or Board of Trustee members. Only five – including this reporter – are parents of children at school.

For such a monumental upheaval, is this really consultation?

A big read follows that.

National’s Nikki Kaye is also going around the country consulting – National to hold 40 education public meetings

“The meetings will be jointly hosted by myself and the local National MPs, some members of National’s Education Caucus will also be in attendance. I plan to attend all of the 40 meetings.

“National has also welcomed a request by the Chair of the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce, Bali Haque, to have some of the taskforce or officials attend some of our meetings as part of their own public consultation process.

“National want to ensure that the 19,000 trustees on school boards and hundreds of thousands of parents have the opportunity to have a good understanding of the proposals. To ensure this we will be providing factual information on the changes as well as seeking feedback.

More from the Big Read:

Last year, Hipkins stressed to Cabinet the importance of “public consultation”. It was this, he said, what he would bring to Cabinet before “decisions on a Government response” to the taskforce recommendations.

He wouldn’t be interviewed about the timeframe, but said through a spokesman he was happy with the level of consultation.

The Bali Haque Roadshow set off for Whangārei, and then further south. They will soon be in a town near you. If you have children, you need to go to these meetings. Not just for their sake but for the children they will have.

Haque and his cohort of revolutionaries will change education for generations.

And if you do go to a meeting, you will hear him say: “Education reform in New Zealand we don’t do well.”

A list of meetings:

The education road show

East Auckland: February 28, 4pm and 7pm at Bailey Road School.

Queenstown: March 4, 7pm at the Crowne Plaza.

Hamilton: March 5, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Taupō: March 6, 7pm, Taupo-nui-a-Tia College.

Gisborne: March 6, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Napier/Hastings: March 7, 7pm, William Colenso College.

Wellington: March 11, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Porirua: March 12, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Lower Hutt: March 13, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Masterton: March 14, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Rotorua: March 18, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Tauranga: March 19, 7pm, Tauranga Boys’ College.

South Auckland: March 20, 4pm and 7pm, Papatoetoe High School.

West Auckland: March 21, 4pm and 7pm, The Trusts Arena.

Central Auckland: March 21, 7pm, Freemans Bay School.

Nelson: March 25, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Greymouth: March 26, 5.30pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Whanganui: March 26, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

Palmerston North: March 27, 7pm, location yet to be confirmed.

More from NZ Herald:

• Bali Haque: Tomorrows Schools review must deal with the market’s failure
• Tomorrow’s Schools meeting: Teachers speak out against Bali Haque’s plan
• Biggest education shake-up in 30 years proposed
• ‘Stalinist’ or ‘exciting’: Battle begins over radical school reforms

70 public meetings planned for and against school trustee reforms

The task force that has proposed major changes to the way schools are managed has organised 32 public meetings around the country, but the Opposition has organised 40 meetings of it’s own.

While teacher unions are usually strongly on Labour’s side some school principals are opposed to the proposals.

NZ Herald:  Battle over school reforms begins this week as 70 public meetings begin

A national battle over proposed radical changes to the school system kicks off this week with the first of more than 70 public meetings.

National Party education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye has unveiled plans to hold 40 public meetings from Kerikeri to Stewart Island, starting in Hamilton this Friday.

The taskforce which proposed the changes, led by former principal Bali Haque, has also announced 32 public meetings and an online survey seeking public input on 58 questions.

National Party leader Simon Bridges drew the battle lines on the proposed reforms last week, promising in his State of the Nation speech to “fight the Government’s plans to entirely centralise education, disempower boards of trustees and reduce choice and the sense of community in schools”.

Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O’Connor, who is fiercely opposed to the reforms, said he would be inviting other schools to join him in a public campaign aimed at making the reforms voluntary, allowing some schools to opt out of them.

O’Connor said Haque proposed a “one-size-fits-all model that will remove parental input into school governance and the freedom to choose a style of education that suits different children and young adults”.

But Haque said he still hoped to reach a national “consensus” before the taskforce presents its final report to Education Minister Chris Hipkins on April 30.

“We are an independent taskforce,” he said. “We are keen to talk across the political spectrum to take this out of the political realm, and we want to develop consensus.”

The chances of a consensus with National look slim at this stage, although Nikki Kaye has a record of working with other parties on some issues, and she has made it clear she doesn’t oppose all proposed changes.

“There are wider issues around our education system where National totally believes there needs to be change, like more equitable funding. We support changes around learning support”.

“I think there are changes that need to be made in terms of the way property is run. We had some plans in the works on that.”

The reform proposals:

The taskforce’s key proposal is that about 20 regional education hubs should “assume all the legal responsibilities and liabilities currently held by school boards of trustees”.

Education lawyer Carol Anderson said the boards’ key powers to be transferred to hubs would be:

  • Employment of the principal and teachers. The taskforce proposes that boards would retain up to half the members of a selection panel for the principal, and would have a final veto over appointments, but principals would be appointed for five-year terms and might then be moved to other schools.
  • Finance. Principals would still manage the school’s operations grant, but the hub would have to approve the school’s annual budget.
  • Property. Hubs would take over property maintenance but would have discretion to delegate this back to schools judged to be competent.
  • Suspensions and expulsions. Hubs would take over processes as soon as a student is suspended.

Having a ‘hub’ take over some of the management and responsibilities will suit some schools, but it isn’t surprising that some larger schools would prefer to manage as much as possible themselves. For the latter hubs may be an unnecessary level of bureaucracy.

Regardless of who is organising the meetings they provide an opportunity for the public, in particular parents, to have their say.

Some principals ‘furious’ over proposal for radical education restructuring

Radical change will usually annoy some people, and so it seems with some school principals over the proposal to radically change the way schools are administered.

The reform was announced just as schools were closing down for the year.

Stuff:  Furious principals warn education reforms will ‘destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it’

Furious principals say they will march on Parliament in protest at the most radical restructuring in 30 years, saying the proposals will destroy schooling as New Zealand knows it.

The proposal to relieve school boards of responsibility for property, HR and financial management is the one that has been most warmly-greeted by the Government. Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the report reflected what he often heard from schools: that boards felt ill-equipped to manage property, especially when problems such as leaky buildings cropped up.

The School Trustees Association and Principal’s Federation have offered cautious support to centralising some of those responsibilities. And this week, Manawatū Principals’ Association president Wayne Jenkins said boards of trustees faced “huge” responsibilities, and he welcomed a re-evaluation on their role.

But at some of the bigger secondary schools, especially in Auckland, anger is mounting. In this week’s strongly-worded attack, Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves wrote to parents and staff in the holidays to say the proposed changes would “destroy the school system in New Zealand as we know it”.

Hargreaves joined other heads, including Auckland Grammar’s Tim O’Connor, in revolting against the proposals.

Taking power away from boards would create “bland, one-size-fits-all” institutions and destroy the role of communities in schools, Hargreaves said.

He called on parents to oppose the recommendations and said parents had already been quick to voice their backing for him.

Over the summer break, schools would be picking over the report in detail and identifying the key issues, Hargreaves said. A parents’ information evening would be scheduled in February and from there they would aim to get traction through the board of trustees and local MPs.

Hargreaves said he was ready to “descend on Parliament” with other principals if necessary.

This weekend, Bali Haque, chairman of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce, emphasised there could be scope for hubs to hand responsibilities back to boards.

Haque said there was no intention in the report to take away the “critical jobs” boards currently have.

Boards would retain control over teaching at their schools, the locally-raised funds, and receive a veto or final approval over their principal’s appointment if the taskforce’s recommendations are adopted.

It looks like a lot of consultation is required here.

The Government and Minister of Education Chris Hipkins have already had to try to deal with teacher unions campaigning for substantially improved pay and and staffing levels.