Teachers wary over review
A taskforce to consider “Regulations Affecting School Performance” has reported back to Cabinet, raising concerns amongst teachers about the narrow goals it has for our schooling system.
The Taskforce asserts that the current focus of our schooling system is on raising student achievement, and suggests there should be “more guidance in the [Education] Act of the objectives and desired goals and outcomes for the schooling system”.
Today’s Cabinet Minute has 20 high-level recommendations and suggests that a “modernised act could be centred on a clear purpose relating to improved outcomes for students, high-quality governance and clear roles and responsibilities”.
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter warned that such a narrow purpose as “improved outcomes” – no doubt related to National Standards results - would be highly contested in the sector.
“The purpose of Tomorrow’s Schools was to enable innovative teaching and learning to occur, driven by local context and communities. A narrow ‘standardised’ objective in the Act would undermine this strength,” he said.
“In NZEI’s view, the Act’s purpose needs to be broad, holistic and sustainable for the long-term, not simply to codify current Government policy.”
Cabinet established the Taskforce on Regulations Affecting School Performance in November last year, to consider how improved legislation and regulation could “contribute to the goal of raising the achievement of all students”.
Education Minister Hekia Parata has asked the ministry to provide advice on a potential review of the Act and the other recommendations in the report by November.
Mr Goulter said it was some comfort that the minister acknowledged that such a review would require an “extensive consultation process with the education sector and with parents”.
“Genuine and unrushed consultation is the key to a successful review that results in good legislation. The last thing teachers and parents want is for the goals of our education system to be narrowed down to ‘improved outcomes’ in the three R’s measured by National Standards. New Zealand has a rich, full education curriculum. Let’s not dumb it down and squeeze it into a box,” he said.