Saturday, July 23, 2011

MoE Appointment May Challenge Quality Public Education


Despite the fact that New Zealand is regarded as having one of the best education systems in the world the government has decided to appoint a new CEO for the Ministry of Education from the UK, possibly the first to be appointed from outside our country. Lesley Longstone is currently employed to oversee infrastructure and funding for the English Department of the UK system. It is interesting that we have appointed someone who has a leadership role in a national system ranked 9 places beneath ours according to one assessment.

The really worrying aspect of this appointment is the fact that our Minister of Education has shown an interest in the "Free Schools" being supported by Britain's coalition government and Ms Longstone is an enthusiastic supporter of these schools. It appears that those that benefit most from these schools are the wealthy middle classes, at the expense of low decile schools.

New Zealand's public education system has been based on ensuring access to quality education for all our children and making sure all schools are well supported no matter what community they serve. Free Schools are free from following many of the controls of normal state schools and this has created some interesting outcomes in the US with their comparable Charter Schools.

NZEI has indicated it would like to establish a good working relationship with the newly appointed CEO and hopes that Ms Longstone will take time to really appreciate the strengths of our education system before implementing any changes. We don't want to emulate countries ranked well below us and lose what has made us one of the best. We especially don't want to introduce an education system that creates winning and losing schools.

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