Principals on five-year contracts? Maybe not, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins says no decisions have been made yet on how the education system will be changed.

The independent taskforce looking at Tomorrow's Schools, the name given to the last major shake-up which took place nearly 30 years ago, has made a number of radical proposals.

The biggest is reducing the roles of individual schools' boards of trustees, centralising power in 'hubs' that look after about 125 schools each.

The Education Minister told Newshub Nation on Saturday the Government hasn't decided yet if that will happen.

"The Tomorrow Schools taskforce were sent out to listen to what people had to say, to formulate some ideas about how the system might change, and then we asked them to go back and actually ask the education community and parents - what do they think of those proposals? That's what they're doing now. The Government's keeping a very open mind on that."

A group of 43 schools has formed an alliance to oppose the proposals. Hipkins said their concerns will be listened to.

"One of the joys of being Minister of Education in a country of about 5 million people is that you have about 5 million views on how the education system should operate. So, yes, there are going to be a broad range of views about what the task force has got right and what they need to improve."

Chris Hipkins on Newshub Nation.
Chris Hipkins on Newshub Nation. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

One recommendation Hipkins isn't so keen on is having principals appointed to five-year contracts.

"When I read their initial report that was one of the things that I looked at and thought, 'I'm not really sure how that would work.' And I think, actually, as they've unpacked that and as they've got feedback on that, I think that's probably one of the things- the feedback they've given me is that that's one of the things that they're rethinking."

He said there's been so much negative feedback on that proposal, it might be distracting the taskforce from "more important debates they should be having".

Hipkins insisted discussions would go on well beyond the end of the formal consultation process.

"It's not just suddenly: consultation closes; that's that; government goes off and makes all the decisions; and everyone has to live with it. We are going to be constantly talking to people all the way through this process."

Consultation closes Sunday.