Tomorrow’s Schools review terms of reference

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced the terms of reference for the review into Tomorrow’s Schools:

The terms of reference for a review of Tomorrow’s Schools released today sets the framework for a once in 30-year opportunity to shape the way our schools are led, managed and interact with their communities, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“There’s been a lot of tinkering around the edges since Tomorrrow’s Schools was introduced, which has moved the governance, management and administration of schools further and further away from what it aimed to achieve. 

“This broad-based review gives schools, students and communities the opportunity to take part in drawing the blueprint for how schools should be organised from here on.

“It will look at how we can better support equity and inclusion for all children throughout their schooling, what changes are needed to support their educational success, and at the fitness of our school system to equip all our students for a rapidly changing world.

“The review will consider how schools might interact differently with their communities, with other schools, with employers, and with other government organisations, to serve the best interests of our young people.”       

An independent five-to-seven person taskforce will be appointed in April, which will consult widely before reporting back in November this year.

“The review is part of the Government’s championing of a high quality public education system,” Mr Hipkins said.

“We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be the best they can be, regardless of where they live, or their personal circumstances. And we want to ensure our schools deliver that opportunity for all New Zealanders.

 “A key priority is for our schooling system will be to be more responsive to the needs of Māori and Pasifika children and those children needing learning support for whom the education system has not delivered in the past,” Mr Hipkins said.

The review will also consider the roles of the Ministry of Education, Education Review Office, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, New Zealand School Trustees Association, and the Education Council in supporting schools.

The review of Tomorrow’s Schools is part of the Government’s education work programme, announced in February. The terms of reference for the review are available at

Major education ‘reform’ plan to be announced today

The Government is announcing ” a complete overhaul of the education system from early childhood right through to post-secondary schooling” today. It is commonly thought that Labour works closely with and for teacher unions, so they will presumably be largely behind the proposals.

Stuff: Convincing parents it’s time for substantial education reform won’t prove easy

The Government is on the brink of its biggest test and the measure of success will be proving educational reform on a scale not seen in almost three decades isn’t just change for change’s sake.

Schools are no strangers to policy changes – as the world evolves, it’s up to principals, teachers and school communities to keep up with the sometimes frightening pace of things like technology.

But on Wednesday Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who arguably already has the worst job in politics, will lay out his plan for a complete overhaul of the education system from early childhood right through to post-secondary schooling.

Since 2002 there’s been the introduction of NCEA and National Standards, a proposal to scrap the way schools are funded through deciles, the closure of Christchurch schools and a u-turn on policy to increase class sizes.

The Tomorrow’s Schools model, which was introduced under then-Prime Minister and Education Minister David Lange in 1989 was educational reform that had never been seen before.

Under Hipkins, Tomorrow’s Schools look set to be Yesterday’s Schools when he announces a three-year work programme to review the entire system.

At least there are some benefits in teacher unions and groups being willing to work with the Government in looking for improvements in our education systems, in contrast to the last nine years where teacher groups (and Hipkins) have strenuously fought National attempts.

But it doesn’t stop there – it’s understood the review will also lead to change in the early childhood area, polytechs and school property.

While parents will welcome more state-of-the-art classrooms for their children, stomaching so much change in other areas could be a scrap the Government has underestimated.

Parents, students and teachers won’t mind something new if it’s better than what they had before but Labour is already fighting off attacks of “ideology-driven policy” when it comes to scrapping National Standards.

Hipkins has criticised the last Government over pursuing ‘ideological’ reforms, but is being criticised of the same thing (albeit different ideologies).

National Standards scrapped with no replacement

The contentious National Standards in education have been scrapped, with no alternative lined up and nothing planned until next September.

RNZ: National standards ditched by government

This year’s achievement rates in the national standards in reading, writing and maths will remain a mystery after the government began the process of ditching the standards.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced schools would not have to report their 2017 results to the Education Ministry and would not be required to use or report on the standards next year.

Mr Hipkins said the government would develop a new system to replace the standards next year in consultation with teachers and principals.

Former Education Minister, National Party MP Nikki Kaye, said the government had taken a “nuclear approach” in moving so quickly to abolish the benchmarks.

“It’s a very sad day for New Zealand. We’ve got the minister making a decision that affects hundreds and thousands of children and their parents without consulting with parents,” she said.

Ms Kaye said the decision would leave a gap in national information about children’s performance at school and parents would not know how their children’s achievement would be reported next year.

But Mr Hipkins said parents and teachers were expecting the announcement.

“I don’t think anyone will be surprised that we are ditching a failed experiment,” he said.

He said schools could continue to use the standards if they wanted to.

So they are not scrapped, they are now just voluntary?

Treasury recommended retaining the standards until replacement ready

A Cabinet paper published today said the new system would measure children’s progress and focus on “key competencies for success in life, learning and work”.

It said in the meantime the government would require schools to report on children’s progress as well as achievement with an emphasis on good quality information from a range of sources.

The paper showed Treasury supported the plan to measure children’s progress against a wider range of subjects, but warned that dumping the standards would create a gap in national information about children’s achievement.

It recommended retaining the standards until the replacement system was ready.

It seems like a rush job to make it look like the Government is active in making changes, but seems a bit half cocked.

Busy education agenda

The incoming Labour led Government is promising big changes in education, with some measures requiring urgency so things are in place for the start of the tertiary year next February.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has some challenges putting everything into place. Of particular urgency is making the first year of tertiary education free next year.

Already contentious is his handling of Partnership Schools, which he has promised to scrap, but Labour Maori MPs in particular will have some concerns about how this is done.

NZH: Government fast-tracking its free tertiary education campaign promise

New tertiary education students wishing to have one year of free education are being encouraged to apply by December 16.

The Government is fast-tracking its tertiary education campaign promises, with the Cabinet now in the detailed planning stage to introduce one year of free tertiary education for new students, and a $50 weekly boost to the student allowance as well as a $50 weekly boost in student loans for living costs.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the policies will come into force by January 1 next year.

“Prospective students and tertiary education organisations should continue to make arrangements for study and enrolments for next year as they normally would. This includes starting, or continuing, any applications for study and/or for student loans or allowances,” Hipkins said.

The fees-free policy will apply to new university students, as well as apprenticeships, industry training and polytechnic students – anyone who has not previously studied at tertiary level.

There isn’t much time to do this. Parliament will sit nearly until Christmas to try to get this and a number of other urgent measures legislated for.

Stuff: Education minister’s shakeup will scrap National Standards and review NCEA

The Labour-led government is hitting the ground running on a number of promises, including making the first year of tertiary education or training free from January 1 next year.

In addition, student allowances and living cost loans will increase by $50 a week as well.

There’s nowhere near enough time between now and the festive season to completely remodel the tertiary funding system, which is why newly appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins has had to sit down with officials this week to work out an interim solution.

Next year a longer-term redesign of the model will be done to ensure Labour meets its promise of three free years of tertiary study by 2024.

While recruiting enough staff seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for Labour at the moment, there’s plenty of work already under way in the ministries to ensure Labour can fulfil its commitments.

Labour have predicted a 15% increase in enrolments. While this may not all be straight away it must make planning difficult for tertiary providers.

National Standards to be scrapped:

Labour policy already plans to reduce teachers’ workload, such as through its scrapping of National Standards, and increase professional development and resolve retention issues.

Hipkins is clear he doesn’t want to leave a hole and there has to be a transition process for teachers, parents and students.

Ultimately it will mean a lighter workload for teachers and more time to teach. There’ll be less assessment, but Hipkins insists the quality of it will be better.

NCEA reassessed:

NCEA isn’t on the cards to be scrapped but it will undergo a full review on Hipkins’ watch. After 15 years it needs to continue to evolve, he says.

At the same time teachers needed to be trusted more and just because something wasn’t being assessed didn’t mean it wasn’t happening.

There’s a real “paradigm shift” needed as part of the NCEA review and that means moving how students and teachers think about NCEA, which is currently credits and subjects, to what employers care about – that’s skills.

One contentious issue is Partnership Schools:

And all those teachers outraged by the introduction of charter schools under a confidence and supply agreement between National and ACT, can sleep easy knowing there won’t be any more new doors opening, with the exception possibly of the two due to open next year.

As for the four scheduled for 2019, Hipkins says he can say with some confidence they won’t go ahead. And he’s still in the process of working out how to bring the 10 already in operation into the mainstream fold.

Hipkins was very critical of the poor track record of the Whangaruru school in Northland and the millions of dollars invested in it that the ministry was unable to recoup from the school’s trust when then-Education Minister Hekia Parata shut it down.

He says if he can get the money back he will, he’s just not sure how realistic that is.

How will the state school system to address the bottom 20% of students who have been failing badly? Scrapping alternatives will put pressure on.

Current partnership schools plus contracts already signed for new ones need to be dealt with fairly, not just dealt to.

Newshub: Govt reviews signed charter school deals

The Government is reconsidering contracts for six new charter schools signed before the election.

New Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the National-led Government signed the contracts in the weeks before the election in breach of pre-election conventions.

“This was in clear contravention of pre-election protocols that prohibit one Government committing a future Government in the run-up to an election,” he said in a statement.

“I’ve asked for urgent advice on the status of those contracts and won’t be making any further comment on the matter until I’ve received it.”

All parties in the new Labour-led Government oppose charter schools and Mr Hipkins said anyone involved in establishing a school knew “a change of Government would mean change for them”.

But ACT leader David Seymour – who was responsible for charter schools before the election – said the new schools had already been budgeted for since mid-2016.

“All of that takes time, I don’t feel that the excuse frankly that he’s trying to make cuts water,” he said.

National’s education spokeswoman, Nikki Kaye, said clarity was needed from the Government about what would happen.

“These sponsors have spent time and money securing contracts with the Crown and preparing to open these schools. They deserve better than this,” she said.

Earlier this week Mr Hipkins indicated all existing charter schools would also be reviewed individually to see if they can be integrated into the rest of the education system, or whether they would be shut.

Hipkins will be very busy trying to deal with all of this. He has the advantage of having teacher groups on his side – some say he is on their side – but with such an ambitious programme of significant change it will be difficult to manage without making a mess of something.

In his haste to delver for teachers Hipkins should remember the key thing in education, the kids. Especially the kids who have long been failed by the teacher dominated state system. Hipkins risks leaving big cracks for them to fall through.

More from Stuff:  Labour’s axe hovers over new partnership schools

The new minister of education is under fire from his predecessor after reports of contracts being cancelled for the country’s four new partnership schools.

Chris Hipkins last night said Labour, NZ First and the Greens had campaigned to scrap the charter school model and they intended to honour that commitment.

Hipkins said he had asked for urgent advice on the status of the four contracts. He understood the National/ACT government signed contracts with six new charter school operators in the weeks leading up to the election.

The four new schools due to open in 2019 included an Auckland school focused on science, technology, engineering and maths and a new Vanguard school in Christchurch.


Q+A: education debate – Kaye & Hipkins

This morning on Q+A: Who has the best policies for our students and schools?
Watch our education debate – Political Editor Corin Dann with National’s Nikki Kaye and Labour’s Chris Hipkins.

ACT campaign launch and education policy

The ACT Party has launched their campaign today and at the same time has announced new education policy – better pay for better teachers.

ACT announces better pay for great teachers

“Good teachers help children grow, develop, and reach their full potential which is vital to their future success,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unfortunately, because of union contracts, teachers hit maximum pay after ten years, schools can’t reward successful teachers, and teaching is not regarded as a strong career choice for our brightest graduates.

“Right now the best teachers earn the same as the worst teachers. Graduates are deserting Auckland schools or deserting teaching altogether. Teachers can only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids.

“ACT says this is crazy. We want the best teachers to stay in the profession and in the classroom.

“With the current government surplus at $3.7 billion, ACT will give principals $975 million to pay good teachers more, without cutting government services or raising taxes. But the schools will only be eligible for this funding if they abandon nationally-negotiated union contracts. This will make it easier for principals to replace bad teachers with great ones.

“ACT’s Good Teacher Grants will boost teachers’ pay by $20,000 on average, and elevate teaching as a profession, to attract the best graduates to teach our children and keep the most capable teachers in the classroom.”

Speech and policy explainer : Pay Good Teachers More


New Zealand kids should be taught by highly skilled professional teachers. Education is the most important gift we can give our children, to give them a head-start in life.

It is wrong that the best teacher and the worst teacher are paid the same. Incentives matter, it’s wrong that the only way for teachers to increase their pay, in many cases, is to take management hours and spend less time teaching kids.

Teachers, as salaried professionals, are undervalued. To attract the best school leavers and graduates into teaching as a profession, we have to lift the overall salary range.


ACT’s proudest achievement is in introducing choice into education. We championed Partnership Schools which are seeing Iwi, Pasifika Groups, community groups and others running new-model schools which are changing kids lives. We don’t believe that one size fits all in education.

Our policy has been to increase support for independent schools – they save taxpayers money, and provide parents with choice in the type of education they get for their children.


This policy will add $1 Billion into the funding that is available for teacher salaries. On average we will increase teacher salaries by $17,700 per teacher. This will enable the best teachers to stay in the classroom, and elevate teaching as a profession.

The Government surplus sits at $3.7 Billion. That means this policy is affordable and we can deliver improvements in teacher quality alongside tax cuts, while maintaining all core government spending.

We will enable schools to opt out of union contracts. This will mean they gain the flexibility to recognise great teachers by paying them more and rewarding their achievement.

Schools will be able to pay more to attract teachers to fill specialist skills shortages – in areas like science, technology, Te Reo and international languages.


Q+A – youth not in work, training or education

One of the most contentious issues about immigration is the approximately 90,000 youths not in work, training or education, but the apparent need to get immigrants to work because employers can’t find Kiwis to fill positions.

Some politicians say we shouldn’t bring in immigrants until unemployed Kiwis have been given a chance.

But many people know from experience that a hard core of young people in particular are either unemployable, or at least not keen on getting work and are very unreliable.

Q+A looks at all this (hopefully) this morning.

Nearly 90-thousand young New Zealanders aren’t in work, training or education. Yet many of our employers are desperate for skilled staff. American social entrepreneur Jeffery Wallace may have the answers. He joins us live.

Status versus teaching

Today’s ODT editorial looks at the push to higher education for teachers, versus what makes teaching effective in Various degrees of teaching

Teachers play a significant role in the development of young people, some of it good, some of it bad.

I was taught stuff but largely uninspired by my education. Since leaving school most of what I have learnt that has been of benefit has been on the job and self taught.

In what must be one of the last acts of Education Minister Hekia Parata, she is backing a shift to make would-be teachers complete a degree in their chosen subject as well as a post-graduate qualification in teaching.

The Education Council is moving towards a position that all people wanting to become teachers – in early childhood, primary and secondary – should be required to have a bachelor-level degree, as well as a post-graduate level qualification in teaching.

One thing inherent in the success of any teacher is the ability to communicate with pupils of all ages. A teacher can be the brightest and smartest person in the room, but without being able to change the motivation of pupils to believe it is in their best interest to learn, success will remain elusive.

The most highly educated teacher I had, Professor Nimmo, ‘taught’ me 6th form physics – if you call writing screes of words on a scrolling blackboard that we were supposed to copy verbatim and learn from. While I knew how to do enough to pass exams that was very uninspiring.

The teacher who connected the best, albeit in small patches, was someone teaching outside of their main interest. It was hard to package the prose Shakespeare and a comparison of West and East Pakistan in an exciting way, but I remember Graeme Sydney trying a few tricks to stir interest up. He was an inspiring rugby coach, which was my real passion. A couple of years later he left teaching to go pursue a career in painting.

A degree in a subject is a good thing, but there are concerns a post-graduate degree will lead to qualification inflation, where teaching methods are secondary to a list of letters after a name.

At an early childhood level, the most important qualification is understanding human behaviour and development, rather than content. How the youngest in the education system develop has a life-long effect on their lives, as the longitudinal study run in Dunedin continues to show.

One of my grandkids went to a very good Early Childhood Centre. I have no idea what qualifications anyone there had, but the kids loved them and they had them doing all sorts of fun things – including working together to write a book illustrated by the kids.

The only thing I remember from my pre-school was sitting on the mat waiting to be given a quarter of an apple for a snack – that seemed very odd because I picked my own whole apples at home.

The Education Council is moving towards a view of all teaching training in the future being at a post-graduate level. This goes back to the core purpose of the council, to raise the status of the profession.

But the ‘status’ of teachers is a self-interested focus, effectively teaching kids should be the priority.

I know of a teacher from twenty years ago who had a van so he could sleep in it to avoid drink driving – whatever his qualifications were they didn’t determine his status.

Having a degree convinces employers the person has the ability to learn, understand and adapt – all important traits for teachers. However, the ability to literally teach a subject must be the most important consideration.

Surely any post-graduate teaching degree must concentrate on applying the valuable skills of motivation and communication.

I love looking up topics of interest online, I do it a lot. It’s far more interesting and effective than reading a text book or encyclopaedia. But I’ve obviously changed a lot since my primary and teenage years.

I have done a lot of looking up stuff of interest on the ‘net with grandkids, but if given the choice they would choose to watch cartoons or play games.

The competition for gaining children’s attention and teaching them things they will enjoy and benefit from must be a real challenge for teachers today.

I’m not sure how a post graduate qualification will help that. By the time a high falutin’ course has been developed and taught things are likely to have already changed again.

Teachers need to be able to learn as they go, and keep up with the play, because that’s what kids have to be able to do.


Seymour v. English on employee drug use

Bill English has been widely criticised for his comments on drug use being an impediment to employment of New Zealanders – it is an issue but English has not communicated it well (and of course media and opponents have highlighted narrow parts of what he has said.

See PM accused of telling ‘stories’ to justify immigration

ACT’s David Seymour suggests that English and some of his opponents “missed the point”.

Drug and alcohol use and lack of incentive to take on jobs that may be ‘less than optimal’ is more a symptom than a cause of entrenched unemployment problems.

Seymour has put out this press release:

Unemployment not caused by employers OR drug users

The government and opposition have both missed the point by blaming unemployment on drug users and immigration, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Employers are turning to migrant workers not because Kiwis are drug addicts, and not because migrants are cheaper,” says Mr Seymour. “The real issue is a fundamental lack of basic life skills among local available employees.

“The most obvious issue is literacy. 2016’s Half-Yearly Employers’ Survey from the EMA showed a massive 43% of respondents voicing concerns about poor completion of workplace documents. And the most recent Employers’ Survey showed that 36% of respondents are dissatisfied with the work readiness of school leavers. And 65% say there is, or will be, a skills shortage in their industry.

“ACT has always sought to address these fundamental issues through education. Partnership Schools have the potential to upskill those students let down by the state system, which is why we’ll be pushing to open more after the election.

“This is also why ACT announced over the weekend that we would give prisoners discounts off sentences if they gain functional literacy. 60-70 per cent of prisoners lack the literacy ability to understand the road code or an employment contract, so it’s no wonder 48 per cent are back inside within four years.”

There’s a bit of political opportunism trying to turn the issue into something that coincidentally ACT policies can resolve, but Seymour does have a point.

A lot of people who take up seasonal work in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture can in fact be better educated young people wanting to fund further education.

One of the biggest problems with the long term unemployed is that some of them couldn’t be bothered or didn’t fit in with available education and have gone on to not be bothered with or fit in with available work.

This can be due to a lifetime of mis-learning.

Perhaps the focus should be less on drug testing of prospective employees and more on the drug (and alcohol) use of prospective parents who become responsible for intergenerational education and employment problems.

But this won’t be an easy election campaign fix.

ACT: reduced prison sentence for education

Policy announcement: Rewarding self improvement in prisons

“Prisoners should be able to earn a reduction in their overall sentence by successfully completing literacy, numeracy, and driver licensing courses. This would provide an incentive for prisoners to upskill and ready themselves for a normal, non-criminal life outside of prison.”

Stuff: ACT to reward prisoners with reduced sentences for learning to read in prison

Offenders who study basic numeracy and literacy courses in prison should be rewarded with time shaved off their sentences, ACT leader David Seymour says.

Prisoners who entered prison with a higher level of education should also be eligible for incentives if they act as mentors to other prisoners and help them learn.

Seymour announced the policy at the party’s annual conference at Auckland’s Orakei Bay on Saturday, where he told a packed room of about 120 of the party’s rank and file, prisoners needed “positive incentives” to better themselves.

The ACT policy would see prisoners rewarded with a sentence-reduction of up to six weeks per year, for attaining literacy and numeracy skills in line with National standards, as well as driver licensing courses.

So a prisoner on a three-year sentence could earn up to a capped rate of 18 weeks off their time in prison, if they completed courses of sufficient value.

The policy would not apply to the worst violent or sexual offenders, and it would not help white-collar criminals to study diplomas or degrees. ACT was also proposing to cut red tape to make it easier for some volunteers to gain approval to carry out work in prisons.

According to Seymour, 48 per cent of prisoners had been returned to prison in the past four years. Of all prisoners, about 70 per cent had low levels of literacy and numeracy, and of the more-than 10,000 people in prison, 3240 participated in a programme in 2016.

There was no incentive for prisoners to take responsibility for their own success, said Seymour.

And guest speaker at the conference, Mike Williams supports it.

The Howard League for Penal Reform chief executive Mike Williams said it was a welcome policy, that would make a difference.

The league is an organisation that works for a more “humane” prison system, and already runs literacy courses in prisons.

Williams – a former Labour Party president – spoke to the conference about the work of the league and the cases it deals with.

“Our course is 12 weeks [to teach someone to read]. In 90 per cent of cases that works – we have had occasions where it’s taken a lot longer, and once we’ve had to teach the alphabet.”

The league carries out its work with the help of volunteers, and Williams said it could be done relatively cheaply. The chance of a reduced sentence, combined with force of their peers learning to read and work with numbers would “inspire” many prisoners.

“Illiteracy is particularly important to them, but what we know is that every one of them wants to get out of jail. It’s not a motel, they don’t want to be there.

“So the possibility of a shorter sentence is a very strong incentive to improve yourself, and I understand that it’s been tried and proven in California.”

Positive incentives make sense. More education = shorter sentences seems a good idea.

See in brief: ACT will reward self-improvement in prisons