This is my submission. It’s my personal response, you can take it or leave it, and I welcome feedback.
Please make sure you do a submission, too. You can answer as many or as few questions as you want, and it’s very easy to do.
1. What should the goals for education be?
To ensure all students become confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners, as outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum document.
All children should have the same opportunity to engage in free, fair and equitable state education system that meets their needs.
2. What process should be used for setting a national priorities statement for early learning and schooling?
The education sector, education academics, students and parents should be consulted and listened to.
There should be a select committee that listens without agenda and uses good research and feedback to determine the way forward.
3. What should the roles and responsibilities of a school or a kura board be?
Schools boards’ responsibilities should include:
– ensuring all students are given the opportunity to work to their own best potential.
– ensuring all students have fair and equitable opportunities in school.
– ensuring parents, whanau and the wider community are consulted where appropriate.
– ensuring school is a mentally and physically safe place to be.
– ensuring the board puts the students at the forefront of their decision making.
– setting a strategic plan that reflects the goals and priorities of its students, their parents and the wider community.
A school board should NOT:
– in any way take part in evaluating staff performance.
– put government’s wishes ahead of students’, parents’ and the community’s wishes.
4. What changes should be made to simplify planning and reporting?
Support to allow school boards to plan together with other boards seems sensible so long as schools are explicitly allowed to retain their own methods and/or focus if they wish to and are not subsumed or swallowed up by others, for example, in a Community of Learning.
5. How can we better provide for groups of schools and kura to work together more to plan and report?
Have independent liaison staff that boards can call on to support them working together, to ensure all parties are given a fair chance to be heard and take part.
Have a fund to support those board members who have to miss paid work to attend meetings, professional development, etc. (Especially crucial for those doing shift work or working in other inflexible situations).
6. How should schools and kura report on their performance and young people’s achievements to parents, family, whanau and communities?
This should be a matter for each board and community to determine, so that whatever method is used it is what students. parents and the wider community want.
7. What should the indicators and measures be for school performance and student achievement and well-being?
Well-being should be ascertained through student and parent/whanau surveys, through reviewing information and data on such things as attendance and bullying, and through discussions with the student body as appropriate.
Student performance should be measured and evaluated in a number of ways, including teachers’ overall judgements, in-class testing, student self evaluation, school management evaluations or check on OTJs, and external tests and exams at post-primary level where appropriate.
School performance should be evaluated by the board of trustees, students, parents/whanua, the wider community and ERO, using observations, test data, students’ in-class work, teacher interviews, etc.
8. What freedoms and extra decision-making rights could be given to schools, kura and Communities of Learning that are doing well?
This is a loaded question – what is meant by “doing well“? Until that is determined, it is impossible to say what additional freedoms would be appropriate.
9. What ways could boards work more closely together?
Boards could be supported by external independent advisers/liaison personnel to allow them to meet and share best practice, discuss ideas and problems, and work more closely. External support for this is vital so that all voices are heard and all boards given a fair and equal chance to have input.
10. What do you think about schools and kura having the flexibility to introduce cohort or group entry?
It sounds like a good idea in principle but could be tricky in practice. For example, if a child moves from a school using 5th birthday entry dates to one using cohort entry and therefore finds themself unable to continue their school after starting already.
11. What do you think about making attendance compulsory for children once they have started school or kura before they turn six years old?
12. What additional supports or responses could be used to address problems that arise in schools and kura?
There should be a level of support available prior to a school needing serious intervention. If a school self-identifies or is made aware of an issue, there must be available support to help the school remedy the situation before it escalates. This should be promoted and seen as something positive and proactive rather than punitive.
13. How should area strategies be decided, and how should schools, kura and communities be consulted?
Area strategies must be decided in open, honest and fair consultation with the school community and all stakeholders, from the Ministry of Education to the students themselves.
It must be recognised that good schools are not just a place of education but are also the heart of a community and that this in itself is valuable and should be part of any consideration regarding mergers or closures.
Consultations MUST begin without a predetermined agenda.
Consultations should include written submissions, interviews, meetings, workshops and other methods that are appropriate the the community involved.
14. What should be taken in to account when making decisions about opening, merging or closing schools?
– area demographics and predictions
– the role of the school in the community
– other available provision for the students
– safety (mental and physical) of the students, staff, parents and wider school community
– quality of provision
15. What do you think about the proposed changes to improve how enrolment schemes are managed?
The proposals as outlined look reasonable.
That’s my submission. Now go do yours. You have until 5pm on 14th December 2015.