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Celebrate your schools says trustee organisation

22 December 2006

Celebrate your schools says trustee organisation

The New Zealand School Trustees Association says New Zealanders have good reason to celebrate the high quality education experienced by the vast majority of students in our schools.

NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr says New Zealand’s unique model of school trusteeship is just as relevant today as it was when it was introduced 17 years ago.

“With our schools closing this week, it is appropriate to reflect on the year,” she says.

“It is clear that governance of our schools is in good heart and is ensuring that more than 700,000 students access high quality education. The system is well suited to continue to add value to our school system in the years to come.”

The reforms of 1989, commonly known as Tomorrow’s Schools, were founded on the basis that local communities should be entrusted to run their schools and that decisions should be made as close as possible to the point of impact.

“These fundamentals are just as relevant today as they were then and should continue to underpin the compulsory education system into the future.

“This is especially so given that we all know that one size does not fit all, and that an issue specific to a school actually does require a specific local response,” says Lorraine Kerr.

“The successes of the system are shown in the evidence that our kids are achieving amongst the best in the world in reading, maths and science, although we do need to reduce the gap between our best and worst achievers.”

Lorraine Kerr says the Schools Sector Report in 2005 stated that boards are making an enormous contribution to New Zealand Schools.

That report said that the strength of the school governance model lies in the fact that schools work under the strategic guidance of members of their own communities, including parents, professional people and others able to contribute relevant skills and expertise.

The report said most boards were “capably and effectively governed during 2005. Only a small proportion (3.9 percent) experienced major governance issues, and the majority of these schools (56 percent) recognized this and sought assistance.”

Lorraine Kerr says boards, principals, teachers and other school staff are to be commended on their work in lifting student achievement over the last few years in the face of increasing financial pressures and compliance costs.

“There are many great things happening in our schools today and we as a country need to take time out from time to time to acknowledge the fact that we do have a world class education system, and one which is serving the large majority of our schools and students very well.

“That’s not to say that we can’t do better. Education is a work in progress, and so it is for boards of trustees in their governance role, and all of those involved in the education partnership to continue to strive to ensure that all NZ students can achieve to the best of their ability.”

NZSTA believes that after some 17years of self governance/self management, it is timely to do a stocktake of how things have gone, how successful we have been with the present devolved model, and whether there ways we can improve on it.

“While a stocktake is not a review of the fundamental principles of self governance/management, there is general support for the move amongst other stakeholders in the education sector including the Minister of Education.”

Lorraine Kerr says some of the matters that NZSTA want to see in any stocktake in 2007 include: Greater awareness of the flexibility currently available for multi school governance Identifying what other flexibilities would be of benefit to schools/trusteeship A more proactive approach in opening up the options for boards to better identify and target desired attributes, skill sets and particular expertise of trustees that would benefit the board Greater Government commitment to the upskilling and supporting of board of trustees in their critical role Acknowledgement that as we build up our principal capability, there is a need to ensure that trusteeship capability is similarly aligned Removing the disincentives and distractions to governance and management, to enable a clear focus on what counts - raising student achievement. Establishing a durable ops grant funding model which fairly meets the needs of boards of trustees and our school leaders in the successful running of their school.

ENDS

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