The great schools revolution, Ctd

Yesterday we discussed at length the great schools revolution.

But what works and what is needed? The author suggests that the keys to success are:

Of the four chief elements of schools reform, diversity of supply is by far the most striking. From New York to Shanghai to Denmark, schools free of government control and run by non-state providers are adding quality to the mix. To date, they seem most successful where the state has been unwilling or unable to make a difference. It is still not clear whether creating archipelagoes of Free Schools and charter schools will consistently drive improvement in other institutions, or whether that is wishful thinking.

What is clear, however, is that the shiniest new academy will struggle without decent teachers. An emphasis on better teacher quality is a common feature of all reforms. Countries like Finland and South Korea make life easier for themselves by recruiting only elite graduates, and paying them accordingly. Mr Gove has said that he wants to raise the degree threshold for teachers and offer “golden hellos” in areas of shortage, like science and language teaching. America has experimented at state level with merit pay and payment by results, but often in the teeth of opposition from the teachers’ unions.

In schools reform, structural progress—new sorts of schools, reorganised old ones, new exams—can happen very fast. Better teachers take much longer to form. They should be made the priority.

The teachers unions will fight any moves along these lines and for that reason alone we should do it.


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  • peterwn

    Actually the teaching unions are calling for the ‘de-politicising’ of education, but naturally on their terms. ACT Party’s education voucher idea would help fulfilment of these principles. Interestingly there is a full primary school in Wellington that offers three education flavours – ordinary, Te Reo and Montessori (2 composite classes of each). I thought I would check its decile rating and to my surprise found it was 10 (rather than 6-8 I expected) possibly because of support from out of area families. ERO report a bit dated but very good.

    Many Kiwis (include right leaning ones) would support equality in education and this presents a serious dilemma to the Government – an open slather voucher system is unlikely to gain broad support. The answer may be to loosen up control (to a limited degree) imposed on the ‘independent’ schools. Pragmatically it cannot be loosened up to the extent that Kings, Dio etc are tempted to seek integration.

    A big problem is curriculum – this is laid down by the Education Ministry and is potentially political, arguably it has a pinkish tinge, but this may be more with delivery.

  • thor42

    “….schools free of gov­ern­ment con­trol and run by non-state providers….” – this is an essential part of the reforms needed.
    Also needed are pay-for-performance, the introduction of education vouchers and a return to phonics-based reading (consultation with Don Buck Primary would be useful – they’ve used it for years with great success).

  • notavictim

    Yes to both of you, there needs to be a major overhaul. Keep pushing it WO.
    Now I’m to train my pig to fly.