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It’s secondary school – but not as we know it

July 9 2004

It’s secondary school – but not as we know it

The secondary schools of the future will bear little resemblance to the schools of today – and one New Zealand academic is urging boards of trustees to plan for change now.

Anticipating the future direction of education will be one topic discussed at the New Zealand School Trustees Association Conference by Professor Mason Durie, who is part of the Secondary Futures project.

Massey University’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Maori) Mason Durie says technology, demography and a changing workforce are just some of the key factors in making secondary schooling in 2024 vastly different to life at today’s high schools.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association conference is taking place in Palmerston North from July 9 to July 11. More than 500 school trustees from throughout the country will be discussing issues pertinent to school governance and education.

Mason Durie, one of four guardians of the Secondary Futures project, says there are a number of issues changing the face of New Zealand secondary education.

The role of guardian was created to ensure integrity in the Secondary Futures project and to allow all New Zealanders the chance to have their views on secondary education heard.

“One big factor affecting secondary schools is demography. The ethnic makeup of New Zealand will change so much that within 20 to 30 years’ time, around half of all children may speak another language aside from English.

“With technology, it changes so rapidly that it’s hard to predict what kind of impact it will have on education, but we do know that whatever the impact will be, it will be very substantial.”

Mason Durie says the very nature of secondary schools themselves and the kind of students they attract may also change.

“Changing labour patterns may mean more parents are working from home and decide to educate their children at home as well. There may also be more online programmes.


“Some schools may see themselves as the hub of a community, a one-stop shop, providing healthcare and dental care as well as education. Other schools might focus
entirely upon the curriculum and leave sporting and cultural development to one side.”

Mason Durie says boards of trustees are critical to the long-term planning process to ensure New Zealand’s secondary education system continues to be strong and innovative.

“Boards of trustees have a great deal to contribute to strategic planning and anticipating the next 10 or 20 years. The future is too important to leave to chance.”

Mason Durie is one of a diverse range of speakers at the New Zealand School Trustees Association conference. Other topics include restorative justice, waste management and childhood obesity.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard will be addressing the conference on Saturday, July 10.


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