What do we want from education?

If you had to choose a single outcome for education what would that outcome be?

For parents its a no-brainer, we want school leavers to go straight into full time employment or into training for full time employment. There are many steps before arriving at this destination, but focusing on a single goal avoids these steps becoming an end in themselves.

The Ministry of Education may agree, but its goals are not quite so succinct. The 2016-2020 Four Year Plan has the following nebulous long term outcomes. Quote.

  1. The education system is relevant and reaches all children and students;
  2. Every child and student achieves educational success; and
  3. New Zealanders have skills and knowledge for work and life. End of quote.

So, did the ministry achieve these outcomes its first year of implementation?  No, they failed on all points.

The education system is not relevant to all students. Kids dropping out of mainline education are achieving success in charter schools because of the alternative teaching methods.  The first of the two of three independent Martin Jenkins’ reports confirms what parents of children in charter schools already know.

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However, the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins wants to abolish the charter school model and close all 17 charter schools.  Hipkin’s says they are a failure but he cannot support his argument with facts.

Hipkins is withholding the final Martin Jenkins report presumably because it highlights the inadequacies of the public system.  Quote.

The Ministry of Education contracted Martin Jenkins to deliver an independent evaluation of the performance of the charter school model. Its reports were to be delivered between 2014 and 2017.

The first report found the flexibility of the model was enabling charter schools to deliver ‘innovative educational provision for students who have been under-served by the education system.’

In its second report, Martin Jenkins said charter schools were reaching priority students – those at higher risk of not achieving.

The final report appears to have been completed, but not released. What does it contain? Why is Chris Hipkins hiding it? Is the Minister having the report altered to suppress glowing reviews about charter schools? End of quote.

The education system does not reach all students.  We know this because of the high and rising number of truants.  45 percent of Maori and 43 percent of Pacifica students were truant in 2016.

Has anyone asked Maori and Pacifica parents why they don’t insist their children attend school?  Perhaps they know school is a waste of time because their children’s needs are not being met?  Parents want their children to succeed and there is hope for Maori and Pacifica because the reverse is happening in charter schools where attendance is high and students are achieving. Quote.

The ministry said the number of students regularly attending school fell from nearly 70 percent in Term 2, 2015 to 67 percent in the same period last year. Only 55 percent of Maori students were regularly showing up and 57 percent of Pacific students.

Attendance at charter schools is extremely high;

Charter schools build the self-esteem of students who attend them;

Charter schools have been outstandingly successful for Maori, with Maori pass rates in charter schools exceeding the New Zealand average.  End of quote.

Students do not achieve educational success.  Too many students fail to meet our national standards in education.  The ministry and minister, without public consultation, decided to drop the bar and scrap national standards altogether.  Abolishing standards will give great statistics going forward while churning out student failures. Quote.

Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system. End of quote.

Students are not leaving school with the skills and knowledge for work.   If they were, more would be employed.  With a total unemployment rate of 4.5 percent the youth unemployment rate at 12.2 percent is more than double that.

Not forgetting youth labour rates make school leavers more employable. Perhaps this government will find some common sense and renege on their election promise to scrap the youth rates?  Quote.

Youth Unemployment Rate in New Zealand remained unchanged at 11.20 percent in the third quarter of 2017. End of quote.

The ministry should be listening to what the public wants from them and then realign their goals.

From the minister’s scurrilous behaviour it’s more likely the ministry will simply produce a report branded with “after public consultation” and do exactly what they want regardless of public opinion.


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