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International spotlight on NZ's education system

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International spotlight on New Zealand’s education system

An international education conference in Britain has been told that there are more educationalists per capita in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.

General Manager of the New Zealand School Trustees Association, Ray Newport, told an international education conference in Scotland that is just one of the benefits of the self-managing schools concept.

He has been presenting a keynote address in Glasgow to some of the world’s leading educationalists at the International Conference 2000 on Parents in Education Around the World.

In the past ten years since the inception of self-managed schools, well over 100,000 people have served on New Zealand’s 2,700 school boards of trustees. That is in addition to the teachers, central administrators and others.

Ray Newport says as a result of parents and the community governing schools, he can safely say that New Zealand has more educationalists per capita than anywhere else on earth.

He has been with the NZSTA since the innovative concept of self-managed schools was first put in place in 1989, and has been invited to speak at the conference along with other international leaders in education.

Ray Newport told the conference that New Zealand is proud to be a trailblazer in education, and there has already been much world focus on the country’s self-managed schools and boards of trustees.

“We are world leaders in the self-governance and self-management of schools, and not surprisingly other countries who are interested in this model are turning to us to learn more. It is a great honour to be invited to address this conference,” he says.

Ray Newport told the conference that people from other countries come to see, experience and learn how our education system works and they always express admiration for what New Zealand has achieved and is still achieving.

He says in 1989, New Zealand set the blueprint for revolutionary change to education. It changed the way schools are governed in New Zealand forever, and is also influencing change in countries around the world.

Ray Newport says a decade ago, schools were bureaucratic and run according to manuals.

“Parents may have been valued by their local school as a resource, and particularly a funding resource, but were effectively sidelined from direct input into the running of the school by the system.”

But now, he says, self governance and self-management has empowered parents in the running of schools, with parents making key decisions. The self-managing school system has been working for 10 years and it is successful even when examined under some of the most rigid and harshest criteria.

Ray Newport says the local community takes on the responsibility of actually governing the school. The local people, especially parents, have a very real say in what happens in the school. The principal is their day to day manager and professional leader and runs the school within the parameters of the boards’ policy.

He says he can quite categorically say there has not been one serious advocate for returning to the old system.

Ray Newport told the conference that if other countries want to change their education systems, they will need a concerted push to get everybody going in the right direction. He says some people from these countries will say the concept of self-managed schools cannot work there, but it can as long as they have the courage and will to make it happen.

He challenged all the delegates at the conference to take time out and think about it.


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