Save Our Schools: Solutions for New Zealand's Education Crisis

Dr Michael Johnston
27 April, 2023

This manifesto draws on the body of research compiled at The New Zealand Initiative over the past decade to bring together a coherent plan to improve our education system, and to restore it to a place of international pre-eminence.

New Zealand’s once world-leading school education system is in a state of deep malaise. Objective international measures show an ongoing decline in key achievement areas, including literacy, numeracy and science. Too many students are leaving school ill-prepared for tertiary study, work and life.

This manifesto lays out the many problems besetting the system – from the Education and Training Act to curriculum and qualifications to teacher training and remuneration to educational monitoring, evaluation and research. Policy solutions for each of these problems are also presented.


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.

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