16 Sep 2016

Blueprint to resolve weaknesses in education

7:54 am on 16 September 2016

The State Services Commission wants long-standing problems in education resolved within 10 years.

A view from behind of teacher aide and two little girls while rest of class taught  further into classroom.

A teacher aide works with special needs students at Newmarket School in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

The Commission's blueprint for stewardship of education said there was too much variation in how well people did in the education system, especially Maori and Pasifika, and good practice was patchy and slow to spread.

The commission said New Zealand's education system was still some way off being high-performing.

"There are too many systemic weaknesses in the way funding, information and talent are developed and deployed to be confident that the good results we do see are the result of good system performance, rather than personality or situation-specific factors," the report said.

The blueprint said the education system should be world-class in 10 years and called for progress in the next four years, including improved achievement, unified education, health and social services for those most in need, and the public understanding and influencing the system.

It said the system should deliver on its purpose of ensuring that every learner succeeded and New Zealand prospered. It should also ensure best use of available information, talent and money, and innovate and improve over time.

It said the two main areas where new effort was required were involving learners and providing more inspiring leadership.

In a combined response, Careers New Zealand, the Tertiary Education Commission, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the Education Review Office, Education New Zealand and the Education Council said they were aware of the problems and would work together more closely.

They said they would accelerate Māori and Pasifika achievement by providing better pathways for young people at risk of low achievement.

They also planned to provide online information, advice and issues resolution, improve the quality of teaching and leadership, and align or consolidate their data systems and analytical capability.

The organisations' report said they would also: "Quickly establish a high impact high visibility flagship project (for example, provide learners with their progressive record of learning from ECE to tertiary) to demonstrate our ability to work together across agencies and with learners, parents, teachers and the private sector with wide benefits."

Educational Institute president Louise Green said education agencies did need to work together more closely, but she doubted they would make much progress without more funding.

"I think it's impossible because the bottom line is the system's under-funded now. Every principal in the country would tell you that," she said.

Post Primary Teachers Association president Angela Roberts said the report was a good idea, but had missed some fundamental questions.

"For the first time, to their credit, they've looked right across the system and looked at all seven agencies directly involved with education, yet they haven't even raised the question as to whether that structure is the best structure for our system."

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