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Education Sector Review released

18 July 2005

Education Sector Review released

The Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Tertiary Education Commission are to adopt a joint approach and work much more closely together to build quality and lift performance in education delivery, State Services Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

The move - aimed at ensuring the government's goals of lifting quality in education are delivered - comes as a result of the Education Sector Review, released today by Trevor Mallard.

The review was requested by the Government in February 2005, following its concerns about quality, capability and leadership in the sector and the need to build confidence in senior secondary and tertiary education.

"No structural changes have been recommended by the review team. The emphasis is on the three agencies better coordinating their work in an education system that is increasingly focused on lifting student achievement," said Trevor Mallard.

Trevor Mallard says the review found the three agencies needed stronger working relationships amongst themselves and with the sector, and overall they needed strong leadership from the Secretary for Education.

"It is vital that these agencies work as a team for the future direction of education as each is intrinsically linked to how learning and qualifications will contribute to students' and New Zealand's development."

The review is the first since major education reforms including the 2003 establishment of the Tertiary Education Commission. It was conducted by the chief executives of the State Services Commission, the Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

"The review acknowledges the senior secondary and tertiary education sectors have seen rapid change which has had a major impact," Trevor Mallard said.

"The changes include policies on funding, qualifications and assessment; structural changes and rapid growth in the overall number of students and the international dimensions of the sector.

"Significant changes have been taking place across the education sector for five to seven years now.

"New assessment and quality frameworks have been established such as the NCEA and the tertiary charters and profiles and we have seen a significant increase in participation of students in both senior secondary and tertiary.

"Within the senior secondary and tertiary sector the government has introduced new priorities aimed at lifting the quality of education and aligning education work to New Zealand's economic and social goals.

"We are making a deliberate shift in emphasis from moving numbers of students through the education system to requiring top quality programmes that are relevant to learners, employers and communities.

"The sector review found on this fundamental aspect that the system - the three agencies and the processes by which they do their work - has not adapted well. It has taken too long for strategies and policies to reflect the new focus on quality learning achievement.

"Also, in the case of NCEA, the system did implement the new qualifications and assessment processes, but has not yet taken the wider community to the point of understanding and accepting them," Trevor Mallard said.

Key recommendations of the review are:

- closer alignment and improved working between the three agencies.
- the establishment of a high level sector leadership group to assist Ministers in making policy decisions. It will comprise Ministers, chief executives and agency board chairs.
- the Secretary for Education to establish a central unit in the Ministry of Education for overall strategic policy development.

"These recommendations should see the sector sharpening its focus for the future and boosting confidence and I welcome that outcome," said Trevor Mallard.

Key recommendations in detail

Alignment
- The three agencies should undertake joint strategic alignment and implementation aimed at achieving the government’s education goals for student and learner outcomes.

- The Secretary for Education should consider immediately establishing at a senior level in the Ministry a central unit to ensure the activities of all three agencies are contributing effectively to tertiary and senior secondary sector goals, and for overall strategic policy development. This unit should include staff seconded from the other education agencies.

Leadership

- The Secretary for Education should have overall responsibility to lead the three agencies so that the developing focus on achieving outcomes and strategic implementation gets greater emphasis.

- There should be a high level sector leadership group, meeting three-monthly and convening as soon as possible, comprising Education Ministers, the Secretary for Education, and chairs of the boards and chief executives of relevant agencies. Its role will include assisting Ministers on policy decisions and clarifying the specific policy contributions expected of each agency and its board.

- An overall consistent and effective relationship management and communications strategy for stakeholders needs to be developed by December 2005, involving all three agencies.

Capability

- The overall joint strategic alignment process should include capability assessment, gap analysis and planning to enhance capabilities in each of the three agencies.

Role clarity

- The Secretary for Education and TEC should, by October 2005, review and seek confirmation from Ministers of the underlying model for TEC’s roles.

Key levers

- TEC and the Ministry should jointly develop by March 2006 a strategic longer-term approach to negotiation of profiles (business plans). This should link profile negotiations and monitoring of Tertiary Education Organisations (public, private or community-based organisations) more effectively with the objectives established for funding arrangements.

Governance and structures

- At this time there should be no major structural change, either to make NZQA or TEC into separate departments or to merge them into the Ministry of Education.
- This is because of the extra burden of cost, uncertainty in a possibly lengthy transition, lack of capability in the agencies to cope with the change, and the risk to current policy implementation.

In addition

- There should be no move of the administration of the senior secondary schools examination system into the Ministry at this time.
- The Ministry and TEC should consider how monitoring of TEIs (tertiary institutions established under the Education Act) should be undertaken so as to ensure that all the Crown’s interests (including performance) are receiving appropriate attention.

Questions and answers about the education sector review.

Questions and Answers about the Education Sector Review

Q. What is a sector review?
The State Services Commission has undertaken several sector reviews in the past two years, including wide ranging reviews in the justice and transport and housing sectors. The purpose of sector reviews is to consider ways to improve all-of-government effectiveness to achieve results for New Zealanders.

Sector reviews were suggested in the Government’s 2001 assessment of New Zealand’s public management system, the Review of the Centre. The Review recommended a series of initiatives to address fragmentation and improve alignment of state sector agencies with Government objectives.

Q. Why was the Education Sector Review undertaken?
A review of the Ministry of Education, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Tertiary Education Commission - the agencies responsible for senior secondary school qualifications and policies relating to tertiary institutions – was requested by government to provide a constructive analysis of their operations and to provide a strategic direction for the future. It was not intended to be a performance or efficiency review.

Q. Who undertook the review?
The Chief Executives of the State Services Commission, the Treasury and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet conducted the review.

Q. Whose opinions were taken into account?
Opinions were sought from more than 80 people involved in education, including teachers, principals, boards of trustees and executives from the three agencies who have expressed consistent comments on issues to provide a cohesive direction for senior secondary and tertiary education.

Q. What were the main findings?
The Ministry of Education, NZQA and TEC need to further adapt the processes by which they do their work to reflect the new focus education has taken over the past seven years which has seen a change in emphasis from moving numbers of students through the education system to requiring quality and relevance of learning outcomes.

With that under control, the three agencies can move on from adapting to the new educational climate and on to building a collective approach to seeking better outcomes for students and learners.

Q. What were the main recommendations?
- The Ministry of Education, NZQA and TEC will work closer together on strategies to implement the government’s education goals beyond their current levels of joint strategic policy development.

- The Secretary for Education will establish a high level sector leadership group, including Education Ministers, Secretary for Education, board chairs and chief executives of relevant agencies, which will assist Ministers on policy decisions, relationship management, clarification of TEC’s role and development of a strategic long-term approach to support tertiary providers in achieving national education goals.

- The Secretary for Education will take overall leadership of the new group so they may develop a better focus on achieving outcomes and so strategic implementation gets greater emphasis.

- The Secretary for Education to establish at senior level in the Ministry a central unit for overall strategic policy development and oversight to ensure the activities of all three agencies are contributing effectively to tertiary and senior secondary goals. To include staff seconded from the other education agencies.

Q. Will there be any major changes to the three agencies?
No. The three agencies will remain as separate entities but they will work in a more cooperative way to implement the Government’s education policies. The Ministry of Education will take a stronger leadership role.

Q. What changes will we see in the coming months?
Immediate: The establishment of a high level sector leadership group will take place, comprising Education Ministers, the Secretary for Education, chairs of the boards and chief executives of the relevant agencies. It will meet every three months.

Immediate: The establishment at senior level within the Ministry of a central unit for overall strategic policy development and oversight to ensure the activities of all three agencies are contributing effectively to tertiary and senior secondary sector goals. This will include staff seconded from the other education agencies.

October 2005: The Secretary for Education and TEC will review and seek confirmation from Ministers of the underlying model for TEC’s roles, balancing its role as an intermediary between the Government and tertiary institutions with its role of steering the sector toward education goals for students through funding arrangements and profile negotiations.

October 2005: The Ministry, TEC and NZQA will clarify their respective roles in regard to policy advice.

December 2005: The three agencies will develop an overall consistent and effective relationship management and communications strategy by December 2005. This will include a comprehensive stakeholders’ needs analysis.

From 2006: The three agencies will work together on strategies to achieve the government’s education goals and will align their statements of intent from 2006.

They will develop a work plan and timeframe for reviewing all major policies and activities they undertake.

Q. What are the long-term outcomes that will emerge from this report?
The review has identified changes that the three agencies can make to coordinate their efforts with the aim of improving the senior secondary and tertiary sector. Over a period, all the major levers and policies in each agency will be reviewed to assess their contribution to the government’s education goals.

There will be stronger leadership across the three agencies through the Secretary for Education taking a primary role and with support from the central education Crown entities as well as other senior managers in the Ministry and the strategic Ministry unit.

Q. How will this impact on senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions?
Expect a more open and effective consultation process on strategy and policy.

Expect improved capability and clarity of purpose within the agencies and in their interactions with the sector as they develop their roles along the lines of the review recommendations.

Expect a strategy to stabilise and embed NCEA effectively over a 5-10 year period by building the capability of teachers and the understanding of the wider community.

Overtime, expect a more effective senior secondary and tertiary sector.

Q. What are the government’s education priorities?
Four key areas have been identified where our education system needs to deliver results:
- Provide all New Zealanders with strong foundation skills for future learning
- Ensure high levels of achievement by all school leavers
- Ensure that New Zealanders engage in learning throughout their lives and develop a highly skilled workforce
- Make a strong contribution to our knowledge base, especially in key areas of national development.

ENDS


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