Tomorrow’s Schools was the name given to the restructure of our schooling system in 1989. The Minister of Education appointed an Independent Taskforce to lead the review of Tomorrow’s Schools in April 2018. That taskforce is now proposing a set of recommendations that are up for public consultation.
Brendan Hearle, Board Finance Officer for the Wanaka Primary School Board of Trustees is urging parents to be a part of the conversation otherwise some of the recommendations may not pay favourably to Wanaka students.
“There are eight key issues in the proposal but the first is around governance and the second is about instituting Educational Hubs which would look after 120+ schools,” said Hearle.
“One of the challenges we will face is that those hubs will be made responsible to look after the curriculum, the principal, five-year property funding, and financial management… everything right down to HR. What that ultimately means is that there will be less of a local view and more of a regional view… All Otago schools will be managed from one hub. My concern is that people a long way away are making decisions for a school they are not at.”
“My personal opinion, as a father, is that we will lose connection with local community. The BOT won’t be making financial decisions based on community relations but dictated from a hub a long way away.
“I know why they are looking at doing it because there are schools that struggle to get good people, but it’s unfair on the schools that have engaged trustees and parents, and put them in the situation where decision making is regionalised.”
Wayne Bosley, Principal of Mount Aspiring College said, “MAC students have been very fortunate to have boards of trustees with both the capability and the desire to always work with the students best interest at heart. It is a huge ask to be on a board so maybe some of the admin expectations could be shared through a hub, [for example] keeping up to date with legislation or discipline hearings but our own experiences have always been positive for our students and staff.”
As all schools in the Wanaka District are Decile 10 schools, that may be part of the problem. High decile schools tend to have highly engaged trustees, staff and parents so the proposed changes seem unnecessary, as they appear to be directed towards schools that are struggling.
But the Ministry feels differently: “The Board of Trustees self-governing model is not working consistently well across the country. Too much time and effort is expended on matters which many boards are not well equipped to address such as property and the appointment of the principal,” it said.
“The role of boards should be re-oriented so that their core responsibilities are the School Strategic and Annual Plan, student success and wellbeing, localised curriculum and assessment. Education Hubs would assume all the legal responsibilities and liabilities currently held by school boards with automatic "delegation back" to principals/tumuaki regarding control of operational grants and staffing entitlements and recruitment.”
The proposed Education Hubs should be Crown entities and these Education Hubs would replace current Ministry of Education regional offices.
Tomorrow’s Schools is proposing to do away with NZQA and the Educational Review Office, putting in their place an Education Evaluation Office (EEO).
“The EEO would monitor Education Hub performance. The EEO would not have responsibility for monitoring the performance of individual schools because this would be done by the Education Hubs.”
Bosley said, “NZQA is interesting in that the workload for compliance purposes has become ridiculous. The time having to be spent on assessment and assessment practises means teachers and students are overloaded and also takes far too much time away from teaching and learning. Assessment should be fair and consistent across schools but the balance at the moment places far too much emphasis on assessment alone.”
Hearle is urging all parents to have their say in the online questionnaire to ensure that Wanaka voices are heard. The survey remains open until March 31 and can be completed at consultation.education.govt.nz/tsr/survey2019.