www.gazette.education.govt.nz

Saturday 22 July 2017

Making it all about learning

The Education (Update) Amendment Bill (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 22 August. It amends the Education Act 1989 (the Act) to make the achievement and learning of children and young people central to the early childhood education and compulsory schooling Parts of the Act. The Bill proposes the most significant changes to the way our education system works since 1989.

In essence, the Bill focuses the early childhood and schooling parts of our education system on student progress, student wellbeing, and student achievement. It acknowledges the vital role that early childhood, school boards of trustees (boards), parents, family, and whanāu play in student success. The Bill also recognises the right of parents, family and whanāu to be fully informed about, and to be fully involved in, the education of their children and young people.
The Bill proposes a series of objectives for our education system that will provide a clear direction for early childhood services and schools in the delivery of education of our children and young people. These objectives focus our educators on student achievement and success, the preparation of learners for work and life, the teaching of critical thinking and resilience, the recognition of cultural identity, the Treaty of Waitangi, and te reo Māori.
The Bill proposes that, after consultation, a Minister of Education could issue a statement of national educational priorities, and performance targets for schools. School boards would take these priorities into account in their teaching and learning programmes, and would be accountable for them when reporting to parents and government agencies.
The Bill clarifies the roles and responsibilities of boards. Some of these responsibilities, such as ensuring students reach their highest possible education standard, already exist. But others, such as ensuring a safe environment and an inclusive school, are new.
A more streamlined planning and reporting framework is proposed in the Bill. School charters are replaced by a four year strategic plan and an annual plan. These documents will show how a board is implementing the national education and learning priorities. Both documents would be published on the school’s website to provide easier access for parents.
Recognising the impact digital technologies are having on education, the Bill proposes allowing providers from schools, or the tertiary education or the private sectors, to form Communities of Online Learning (COOL). All COOL will be subject to regulations governing their accreditation, operating and reporting requirements.
The vast majority of our schools are well managed. But, from time to time, some schools get into difficulty. To get them back on track quicker, the Bill includes a wider range of assistance, including the issuing of a performance notice, or requiring a Board to access specialist advice, to get them the help they need.
The Bill would also allow schools to start new entrants at the beginning of the term closest to a child’s fifth birthday, and to require that any child beginning school before age six would need to continue to attend once they have started. No child would be required to enrol in a school until their sixth birthday, as is the case now.   
We received over 1800 submissions during public consultation on the Education Act update, and over 120 meetings, workshops and presentations on the update were held throughout the country. Members of the public now have the chance to have another say on the proposed changes during the Select Committee process.
The Education and Science Select Committee will announce the timing and process for the Bill’s consideration shortly. It is likely that the submissions process will run for some time, and that the Bill will become law sometime in the first half of 2017.
For more information on the Bill, go to www.education.govt.nz/the-education-update-amendment-bill.