Major overhaul: Govt eyes up education from preschool to tertiary

The entire education system, from pre-school until adult education, could be completely overhauled, bringing in the biggest changes to the system in decades.

The way schools are governed - by a board of trustees making community-based decisions - could be scrapped: Tomorrow's Schools, a 1980s Labour Party policy is up for review.

So too is NCEA, early education, school property, learning support and how the school system responds to diverse needs, including the technology and skills needed in the 21st century. 

That's almost every stage of the education system reviewed with an eye to overhauling the system to "meet the needs of the 21st century".

"We need a system - from the cradle to the grave - that is inclusive, that can adapt to the needs of the modern world," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

"It needs to engage every learner - in a much more personalised learning experience. We need our people to be resilient, creative and adaptable, able to work collaboratively as well as independently."

"Another day, another review" is the response from the Opposition.

"So far there is very little information about what exactly the Government will be reviewing and the devil will be in the detail," National's Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said in a statement.

"We have already said we would be keen to work with the Government on areas where we can get cross-party agreement, such as the 30-year plan. However the process matters and it needs to involve collaborative decision-making rather than tick-box consultations with the Opposition and other stakeholders."

The proposal presented to Cabinet (the collection of high-ranking Ministers from Labour and New Zealand First who approve Government actions) says New Zealand has an education system to be proud of, but it says the system needs to adapt.

It says while Tomorrow's Schools did strengthen the influence local communities have on schools, the model created too much competition, "with schools envisaged as independent businesses competing in a market".

Creativity and innovation are "hampered by red tape and compliance requirements", the paper says. They should be equipped "with the attributes of resilience and adaptability. They will need to grow and change, be self-starting, innovative and creative, have great communication and interpersonal skills and be prepared to work collaboratively as well as independently," the paper says.

It says the system does not respond well to students outside the norm - those disadvantaged or gifted.

Main components of Chris Hipkins' plan:

  • Creating a strategic plan and review of early childhood education
  • Review of Tomorrow's Schools
  • Developing a future-focused Education Workforce Strategy
  • An action plan for learning support
  • A comprehensive reform of school property - says "too many schools are struggling to cope with outdated facilities"
  • Programme of change for the institute of technology and polytechnic subsector and vocational education
  • Review of NCEA
  • Focus on raising achievement for Māori
  • Focus on raising achievement for Pasifika
  • Decisions on Communities of Online Learning