Rad­i­cal pro­posal for schools

Nelson Mail - - Front Page - Adele Red­mond adele.red­[email protected]

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

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