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Principals welcome Tomorrow's Schools Report

The New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) has welcomed the taskforce report on Tomorrow’s Schools, just released.

Whetu Cormick, NZPF President said, ‘The recommendations in this report are based on a sound set of values which will determine the long-term future direction of education in New Zealand. What is important now is that those values remain connected to the recommendations as we move into the implementation phase.’

The report has been generally supported by the education sector although detail is still to come.

‘There is a lot of good sense in this report,’ said Cormick. ‘The most pleasing of all is that it divorces itself from all the competitive aspects that came with the business accountability model of education which proved a dismal failure for our children’s learning,’ he said.

‘This report embraces a collaborative approach with children, equity and access at the centre,’ he said.

Principals especially welcome the taskforce’s view that more needs to be done to develop and support high quality school leaders. The establishment of a Leadership Centre to be located within the Teaching Council, will ensure the profession, through its leadership advisors, principals and leadership networks will be setting the guidelines for eligibility to become a principal, making principal appointments, identifying professional learning needs, appraising principals and implementing a new approach to school review that will be focused on support and development, not naming and shaming.

‘The work of the leadership centre will ensure we have the highest quality and best supported leadership workforce possible,’ said Cormick

Cormick also expressed his pleasure at the centrality of the Treaty of Waitangi to all aspects of the report.

‘It is pleasing to see that the Treaty of Waitangi and true partnership with Māori is strongly embedded throughout the report, so rather than seeing Māori as a problem to be fixed, they will be seen as equal participants. Our young Māori people will now be educated in a way that is consistent with their cultural beliefs and practices,’ said Cormick.

Structurally, the recommendation to introduce hubs between the school Boards and the Ministry has drawn most attention.

‘Hubs are a new concept for us,’ said Cormick, ‘and they make a lot of sense if they allow our school Boards of Trustees to focus on children’s learning and wellbeing which are the reasons most parents offer their services in the first place,’ he said.

‘Parents want to help schools provide successful education and support programmes for all children and not have to spend their time discussing legal, compliance and property issues which are better sorted by those with a specialist focus,’ he said.

Following the report will be a further consultation period during which the profession and the public can examine the recommendations more deeply and visualise how they might be translated into practice.

‘There are still many detail questions to ask,’ said Cormick. ‘Whilst there are exciting possibilities such as professionals having revolving roles within the hub system in future, we need certainty about where all the people will come from to staff the hubs,’ he said.

It is understood hubs will comprise equal numbers of practising professionals and business and community members.

‘We already have challenges meeting staff shortages in the immediate future,’ said Cormick, and much work would need to be done to attract a good balance of professionals, business people and community members all eager to adopt and work to the set of values outlined in the report,’ he said.

The report does not detail costings of the new system.

‘At this stage we don’t know whether there is sufficient money in the education budget to support the work of the hubs,’ said Cormick. ‘These and other details will need to be thrashed out during the next consultation phase,’ he said.


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