Rotorua principals say the recently announced education reforms are overdue.

The Government released details of the reforms this week saying the three-year work programme would "champion a high quality public education system for all New Zealanders".

"As the way we work and live continues to rapidly change, so too do the demands on our education system," said Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

"Over the next three years, we can make significant progress in changing our education system to provide for all New Zealanders."


The work programme includes the NCEA review, a review of Tomorrow's Schools, developing a future-focused Education Workforce Strategy, a continuous focus on raising achievement for Maori and Pasifika learners, an action plan for learning support, an early learning strategic plan and a comprehensive review of school property.

Rotorua Principals' Association president, and Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart, said education reforms were overdue.

"It's time that happened in my view because it's been 30 years since Tomorrow's Schools.

"The model was built in the 1980s and the changes that have happened in that time are huge," Stewart said.

Set up in 1989, Tomorrow's Schools is a system in which every school is governed by an elected board of trustees.

Education minister Chris Hipkins announced the changes this week. PHOTO/FILE
Education minister Chris Hipkins announced the changes this week. PHOTO/FILE

There will be a nationwide series of consultation meetings in May.

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21 Feb, 2018 9:26am
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Stewart hoped the consultation would be thorough and said it was up to educators to be proactive and have their say.

"I'm really hopeful that it has a good impact on all our children because that's what it's about and that's the future of New Zealand," she said.

"It's great to do a stock take and review everything rather than just tweak. The little tweaks aren't going to bring us in line with the rest of the world."

Kaitao Intermediate principal Phil Palfrey had mixed thoughts on the announcement.

On the topic of a comprehensive review of school property he said that would be welcomed by principals around the country.

"We know there's not unlimited funds to make every school 100 per cent modern and compliant," Palfrey said.

"A school like mine has a number of substandard classrooms that need a little upgrade to make them better.

"There's been this real push for modern learning environments and I just don't think that expense is warranted."

With the inclusion of a continuous focus on raising achievement for Maori and Pasifika learners, Palfrey said he didn't like the "relentless focus on schools to be solely accountable for increasing Maori achievement".

"Some schools and teachers probably aren't culturally responsive and they probably need to work on that. They need to understand the partnership that's critical in supporting Maori and their children's education.

"It's never shouted home to parents that they have a duty to send their children to school every day and make sure they are well rested and have a willingness to learn."

Palfrey said he was eager to be part of the conversation and was intrigued as to what reviewing Tomorrow's Schools would involve.

"I think it could be looked at. All the principals would like to have a good board to work with. I've always had a good board and that makes a difference I think."

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the reforms were necessary and desirable but also ambitious.

"Around the Tomorrow's Schools regime, though there have been some benefits to it, it has led to schools being highly competitive for students. They're spending money on marketing which is money that should be put into education," he said.

"I think Mr Hipkins has got the enthusiasm to take things forward. A lot of educators agree with what he's saying."

Walsh said he would welcome a look at property.

"I took the job to be an education leader but spend a vast majority of my time working on property, and finance issues that aren't directly related to why I became a principal."

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said the national institute welcomed the reforms.

"We want a world-leading curriculum and an education sector that fosters children's love of learning and allows teachers the freedom to teach and engage children in the learning that motivates them.

"However, the reforms will only be successful if teachers are meaningfully consulted in the development of the new programmes."

Stuart said some key issues were teacher shortages and the ability to attract and retain teachers, early childhood education funding, and support for children with additional learning and behavioural needs.