Earlier this week Minister of Education Hekia Parata announced a revamp of education legislation that will “keep what is important and working and improve what is not”.
“When the reforms known as Tomorrow’s Schools were introduced in 1989 they transformed the way education was administered. For the first time local communities, not a centralised bureaucracy became responsible for running schools. However, that was 26 years ago and the world has changed since then.”
The proposed legislation update draws on the recommendations of the Taskforce on Regulations Affecting School Performance which reported in 2014 that the Act focused on structures and administration.
“These are legally necessary. However, the real emphasis needs to be on raising the achievement of all students.”
The proposed changes may affect how the government intervenes in struggling schools, and how many schools one board of trustees can govern. Five-year-olds might also be allowed to start at the beginning of the term after their fifth birthday, rather than when they turn five.
Sector and union leaders have welcomed the opportunity to have a say in the review.
New Zealand Principals Federation president Denise Torrey said that deciding on the goals for education was the most important part of the review.
"Without a purpose we don't know why we're doing things and we've got lots of initiatives that have been coming into New Zealand over the last few years that are never tested against the purpose of education," she told Radio New Zealand.
The Education Council has welcomed the review and released a call for teachers, principals and professional leaders to have their say.
“There are many questions to ask when it comes to thinking about the role of education in the modern world. That’s why the review of the Education Act is so important. The timing couldn’t be better.”
However, the Green Party has described the review as a “farce”.
“It is impossible to have a genuine review of the Education Act if the Government has excluded all the most controversial aspects of its education reforms, including National Standards, Charter Schools, and the new undemocratic Education Council,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
Consultation on the legislation update has begun and will run until December 14.