Media Release: New report reveals solutions for transforming New Zealand’s education system

Dr Michael Johnston
Media Release
27 April, 2023

Wellington (Thursday, 27 April 2023) – A comprehensive report authored by Dr Michael Johnston offers a detailed analysis of the current challenges facing New Zealand’s educational infrastructure.

Save our Schools: Solutions for New Zealand’s education crisis outlines a series of innovative proposals for reforming and revitalising New Zealand's education system, including curriculum, assessment and qualification systems, initial teacher education, teacher career structure, teacher supply, systems monitoring, and information provision to parents. It also recommends a review of the New Zealand Council for Education Research (NZCER).

Dr Johnston says, “I believe the proposals outlined in this report have the potential to rescue New Zealand's ailing school education system by addressing the many longstanding causes of its decline. Our aim is to create a system that centres knowledge, supports teachers, and fosters a culture of innovation and excellence.” He adds, “It's time to initiate a national dialogue on education reform and restore New Zealand’s schools to their former world-leading status.”

These proposals represent a bold vision for the future of education in New Zealand, to ensure that young New Zealanders receive the highest quality education possible. Dr Johnston hopes these recommendations will spark a national conversation about the future of education in New Zealand and lead to meaningful change.

Some of the most significant proposals in the report include:

  1. Introducing a new, knowledge-rich curriculum centred on literacy, numeracy, and disciplinary subjects.
  2. Redesigning the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) to encourage more coherent teaching and reduce superficial learning.
  3. Reforming initial teacher education (ITE) to focus on effective teaching methods based on the science of human information processing, sound curriculum knowledge, and formative assessment literacy.
  4. Introducing a performance-based career structure for teachers, with promotions based on professional standards.
  5. Enabling schools to hire professionals without teaching qualifications and streamlining the process for hiring international teachers.
  6. Expanding the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA).
  7. Refocusing the core research function of the NZCER on large-scale quantitative, generalisable research on teaching and learning.

This report, published by The New Zealand Initiative, presents a roadmap for creating a knowledge-rich education system that attracts the best to teaching, prepares them well for the profession, and provides incentives to keep them.

Dr Johnston will be joined by literacy expert Professor James Chapman, writing pedagogy specialist Dr Helen Walls, and the innovative Principal of Manurewa Intermediate School, Iain Taylor to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations during a webinar on 27 April from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Those interested can register for the event via Zoom using this link:

If you want to interview Dr Johnston, please contact him on 021 0227 3415 or Amanda Boyd or phone 04 499 0790.


About the Author

Dr Michael Johnston is a Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, a public policy think tank in Wellington. He held academic positions at Victoria University of Wellington for the ten years. He was the Associate Dean (Academic) of the University’s School of Education from 2019 to 2021. Prior to his time at Victoria, Dr Johnston was the Senior Statistician at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, a position he held for 6 years. Before that, he held positions at Melbourne and Latrobe universities. Dr Johnston holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Melbourne.

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