A response from the Minister of Education to the recent contribution by Steve Maharey (Can we finally agree on how to run schools).
I largely agree with Steve’s comments, in particular his desire to see a personalisation of learning, and a coming together by our educators.
The piece contained good suggestions, so I want to provide some assurances. For starters, this government has no interest in “building policies around 20th century questions”, but is absolutely committed to bringing all education stakeholders on board with our 21st century expectations of the education sector.
Firstly, all of our planned reforms and system-wide changes such as the funding review, and introduction of Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako have been consulted from the beginning with the core stakeholders, there is no lack of willingness to communicate on the government’s part.
This government places children, parents and whanau at the centre of education policy. Our education system is focused on ensuring that every child and young person is a competent connected learner, confident to achieve all that they’re capable of.
It’s designed to support students to build the knowledge, skills and capabilities they need to be successful in a globally facing digitally fluent world. Our curriculum offers a diverse and wide range of choices when it comes to subjects that students can study from the traditional to the more unusual.
We have made the biggest progress in a generation towards both the personalisation of a child’s education experience, and the coming together of schools, parents, and the wider community with an interest in the success of our children from early childhood through to the workforce. This progress is embodied in the establishment of Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako.
Through Kāhui Ako, educators will be able to use Te Whāriki once updated, The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa to build shared understandings about valued learning, what progress looks like, and to design their own local curriculum with their parents and whānau to meet the needs of their children, providing richer learning opportunities for students.
Parents will be empowered with more data and engagement than ever, and they will no longer have to consider whether their local school is a decile two or decile six, because all schools in that local Community of Learning will have access to the same shared resources, skills, expertise and level of care.
As an example, Te Kāhui Ako o Waitakere, Waitakere Community of Learners in Auckland contains a diverse make up of schools from deciles 2–7 and a really diverse ethnicity makeup of 20% Maori, 28% Pasifika, 22% Asian and 24% Pakeha.
With improved data, the Ministry will be able to better target its resources and helps teachers and leaders plan coherent learning pathways and rich community-based learning experiences for their students as they progress from ECE to senior secondary and beyond.
Alongside all of this, parents have probably seen first-hand how schools are now being equipped with innovative learning spaces as a rule, not the exception, and receiving resources dramatically different to that of just a few years ago. The recently opened Haeata Community Campus in Christchurch East is an absolutely awe-inspiring example of the way the conventional classroom has been completely overhauled to allow for flexible learning.
I welcome more contributions such as Steve’s and encourage everyone who shares our expectations of educators to look at what we are doing with Communities of Learning, it really is exciting stuff.
Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa
Hekia Parata is the Minister of Education