Radical proposal for schools
Boards of trustees would be stripped of most of their powers under a radical proposal to change the way schools are run.
The report into Tomorrow’s Schools – the self-governing model of the past 30 years – was released yesterday. It recommends introducing ‘‘education hubs’’ to manage the appointment of principals, school property, suspensions and expulsions, and provide an advocacy service for families with complaints.
It also calls for a limit on out-ofzone enrolments: ‘‘Some schools have unfairly and sometimes illegally prevented local students enrolling.’’
The Crown entities would oversee about 125 schools each. At least half the hub positions should be practising educators, and the other half local iwi and community stakeholders, the report says.
Boards would retain control over teaching at their schools and all locally-raised funds, and receive a veto or final approval over their principal’s appointment.
‘‘Schools have been expected to operate in isolation for too long, without anywhere near enough professional and business support,’’ review chairman Bali Haque said.
‘‘We believe that school boards really matter – they are the representatives of parents and children in the school system – but their role needs to be refocused on what is really important to parents: student success and wellbeing; the goals and purpose of the school; and the person appointed to be principal.’’
Large changes to school funding have also been recommended, including limiting how much schools can ask for in donations, barring the use of Government funds to provide for fee-paying international students, and replacing the decile funding system with an equity index. The recommendations will be open for consultation until April 7. ‘‘Now is the chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on a schooling system that meets the needs of all students, educators, and parents, and that is fit for purpose for the 21st century,’’ Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.
The report laid bare the shortcomings of the school system: ‘‘The gap between our best and worst performing students has widened.’’ Under the Tomorrow’s Schools model, ‘‘schools have been encouraged to compete for students’’, increasing ethnic and socio-economic segregation and making the decile system a proxy for school quality.
‘‘There is no evidence to suggest the current self-governing schools model has been successful in raising student achievement or improving equity as was intended.
‘‘Children from disadvantaged homes, too many Ma¯ ori and Pacific families, and those with significant additional learning needs remain those most poorly served by the system.’’ Students with disabilities ‘‘should have the same access to schooling as other students and it is clear that they currently do not’’, the report says. Boards of trustees did not always appoint the best person for the role of principal.
‘‘Now is the chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on a schooling system.’’ Education Minister Chris Hipkins