Through the work that i do and the data-sets I process on NZ high-schools I do receive a lot of contacts on the issues in NZ education from families. My first point often is, that if you are asking, you are heading towards the right path for your child(ren) to be doing well because you are engaged. There is, of course, more to being a parent that supports and enhances a child's education than that – but if you are indifferent things are not as likely to turn out well.
The NZ education system, through Boards of Trustees (BoTs), is designed to be lead by families. This is often de-emphasised as the ministry of education, or school senior leadership seem to hold all of the cards and keep them close to their chest. This coming week most newly elected BoTs will hold their first meetings.
It is the BoTs that are the employers of the Principal and staff. The BoTs can have a huge role in setting the direction of a school and in improving outcomes for students. The past three years, around the globe, have seen parents come back to the realisation that need to be much more pro-active for their children and challenge what is being taught, the quality of teaching and how their children are doing. There has been significant growth in home-schooling – even in New Zealand.
Most new Board members will be aware that there are significant challenges in our system. They might be aware of NZ's rapid comparative decline in international measures of literacy and numeracy. They might be aware of the attendance problems in the NZ system (although the government seems very reluctant to release Term 2 figures). They might even feel that they have some understanding of how their school does through figures for ncea that are release in February. Those figures are cohort figures – Year group by Year group for who remains. Some schools are losing 40% of their students before they turn 17 years old and that does not show up in cohort measures.
The figures the new Trustees need are the figures for LEAVERS that are released in August and I do a full process on against a range of metrics that can be compared to every other high school in NZ. I have two data sets available – one against the decile system (still in place this year), and one against the newly released Equity Index numbers – that should have some correlation to achievement – that are being used for some aspects of funding from 2023.
If you – or anyone you know – has gone onto a high school BoT (or simply if you are interested) – please make contact. Please also keep in mind BoT meetings all have to be open to all parents and the public. You can make a difference.