Media Release: New Zealand needs a transparent, professional and supportive school system

Media Release
6 July, 2017

The New Zealand Initiative’s new report calls on Government to ensure all schools are performing to the highest standards.

Acknowledging that large parts of the education system work well, New Zealand cannot turn a blind eye to failures that exist within the system.

The Initiative’s previous work highlighted the fact that underperformance in the education system is a serious concern particularly for students from low socio-economic backgrounds. It is these students that stand to gain the most from the reforms proposed in the new report Amplifying Excellence.

As the report’s author Martine Udahemuka argues, actions should focus around three core principles: Transparency, Professionalism and Support.

It is vital that parents, principals and boards know how well schools are performing. Unfortunately, the current review mechanism does not deliver such transparency. The report suggest better use and communication of student achievement data.

The education system needs to move more towards a professionalisation of teaching and school management. The report recommends principals and boards be accorded authority aligned with the complexities and responsibilities of their roles.

Underperforming schools need better support to lift their standards. Schools showing success should be rewarded for their efforts, and be encouraged to share their expertise.

“We know that low decile schools can be as equally successful at inspiring and teaching students as high decile schools. But New Zealand is not systematically identifying this success,” Martine Udahemuka says.

“A more transparent school review system is needed to empower parents to recognise quality education. Instead of using proxies such as deciles or pass rates, parents should ask whether schools are giving each student the best possible education according to their abilities and backgrounds.”

The Initiative has a long track record of education research and remains committed to future research in this field. More work needs to be done but the report’s recommendations are an important step towards better school performance.

Read: Amplifying Excellence: Promoting transparency, professionalism, and support in schools

Read the earlier reports in this education series, below:

Signal Loss: What we know about school performance
Fair and Frank: Global insights for managing school performance


Martine Udahemuka is available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact:

Media contact
Simone White, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 2937 250

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