The Education (Update) Amendment passed its third and final reading yesterday heralding the “biggest reform to education in nearly thirty years”.
Education Minister Nikki Kaye described the Bill as a “significant milestone for our education system”. In welcoming the new legislation she paid homage to her predecessor Hekia Parata for her drive and determination to “enact real change that will benefit generations of young New Zealanders”.
The main focus of the Bill is the introduction of objectives for the education system which will inform a new statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP), setting out the Government’s priorities for education.
“These priorities will make it clearer to our educators what success for students looks like. To move the education system from delivering education, to one focussed on raising student achievement with clear accountabilities for all,” says Kaye.
However, other aspects of the Bill have been more controversial, including the option for schools to adopt a cohort entry policy for new entrants and the introduction of Communities of Online Learning (CoOLs).
The Minister says that before any CoOLs can be established there will need to be consultation on the regulatory framework. She is a strong advocate for the new model.
“Students will be able to choose from a greater number of education providers and have more access to more subjects if they and their parents think online learning is right for them.”
An amendment to the Bill was the prohibition of the use of seclusion in schools and early childhood services, following the Ministry-led inquiry into this practice last year. The Bill creates a legislative framework for the appropriate use of physical restraint in schools.
Other key proposals include encouraging collaboration between education providers, improvements to the way the Government provides careers services, and changes to the statutory interventions framework so schools get quicker and more tailored help to get back on track.
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston has welcomed the streamlining of careers services. As a result of a Government review of the careers system, Careers New Zealand is being disestablished and staff and functions will transfer to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on 1 July 2017.
“This is a positive step towards an improved careers system that will strengthen connections between education and employers, reduce fragmentation and duplication across government agencies and make pathways into further study and work clearer,” says Upston.
Kaye says the Bill represents a “once in a generation opportunity” to create a student-centred, future-proofed education system.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for children, parents and teachers. The possibilities this legislation opens up will ensure we have an education system that offers the very best to future generations.”