Speech – New Zealand Government
Tn koutou katoa, Kia orana, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Talofa lava, Ml e lelei, Ni sa bula vinaka, and greetings to you all.Hon Hekia Parata
Minister of Education
12 September 2013
Address to NZ Education Summit and Expo
Aotea Centre, Auckland
Tēnā koutou katoa, Kia orana, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Talofa lava, Mālō e lelei, Ni sa bula vinaka, and greetings to you all.
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this feast of education expertise.
We have an education system that is among the best in the world. It is top performing for most – but not for all. Four out of five young New Zealanders are getting the qualifications they need from school. We must celebrate their success, and all those in our system who make that possible every day – parents, boards, principals and teachers. I see a number are here today, and I thank you.
But our Government is ambitious for five out of five. We want all of our young people to get the qualifications and skills they need to be successful members of society in the 21st century. This means lifting up those who are being left behind, and encouraging those who are doing well to do even better.
To do this, we need to find new approaches to accelerating the progress and achievement of our children. We need to look at everything we do – from high-level policy settings to what happens in the classroom, to how our schools engage with their communities. We must meet the needs of all students, and enable each and every one to fulfil their potential in education and in life.
Over this summit, you have an opportunity to share ideas; to discuss what works and what doesn’t; and to look at challenges in the sector and the opportunities they bring. I hope that you leave this event inspired to lead the way and take action to ensure the education system works for all children. Not for just 1:2 Māori; 3:5 Pasifika; 4:5 Pākehā and Asian – but for ALL our young citizens. Five out of five.
To spark this conversation, I’m here today to talk about what our Government is doing to raise educational achievement and deliver on building a brighter future for all New Zealanders.
Role of education in economic recovery
Education can make a two-fold contribution to our country. It builds our social and cultural strength, and our productivity. That’s important for our economy, and it’s important for New Zealand.
We are a small country that must make up for size with smarts. We must out-think our competitors. We must be able to turn clever ideas into commercially successful products that we can sell to the world. We must attract overseas businesses to use our expertise.
To do this, we need a skilled and qualified workforce that meets the demands of business and industry; that adapts to new and changing technologies. We need entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors.
And we need New Zealanders who are culturally adept, fluent and intelligent in different cultural contexts and ideally, linguistically capable, as we seek to trade and service economies and societies with whom we have shared and growing interests.
We must leverage our bi-cultural heritage and increasingly multi-cultural richness. We must invest in languages and the opportunities they open us up to, and open us up for.
Education is absolutely vital to achieving this. We need our system to equip all young New Zealanders to be successful participants in, and leaders of, a 21st century economy.
Knowledge, qualifications and skills are a key that opens the door to better jobs, better incomes, and better life opportunities. This leads to improved economic and social outcomes for New Zealanders and in turn a more prosperous New Zealand for all.
That’s why we are committed to raising educational achievement for five out of five of our kids. Successful young New Zealanders grow the potential of our country; disengaged, dislocated, disappointed young people don’t.
We do not have another generation to waste.
Strategies for lifting achievement across the education system
Lifting achievement requires every part of our education system to be doing the best that it can. We cannot simply relocate the difficulties to the next part of the system. That is how a whole generation of young people can fall through the cracks – or at “transitions” to use education parlance.
We must use every dimension of the world class architecture that underpins our education system. We must stop simply repeating the mantra that “ours is a world class education system” and ensure that we implement the practice of it – whether the curriculum, the qualifications framework, the review and evaluation, the best evidence synthesis, the devolved yet collaborative schooling network, the high quality professionals, the engagement with community.
At early childhood, we must ensure that our infants and toddlers are sociable, engaged, ready to learn.
At primary and intermediate, we must build a strong, general foundation for learning through a rich programme of cross-curriculum and co-curricula activity embedded with literacy and numeracy.
At secondary, we must deliver pathways for educational achievement that can be reflected in a national certificate at level 2 as a minimum.
And in the secondary-tertiary interface, we must give young people choices that set them off on real and meaningful options for further education, training, or employment.
This Government is serious about doing what it takes to lift the achievement of all our children. That’s why we have put a whole range of initiatives in place that are focused on doing just that.
These include National Standards, for our primary and intermediate students, so we can see how kids are doing and identify early those who can be lifted more, as well as those who are falling behind; our Youth Guarantee pathways and opportunities, which are transforming the interface between secondary and tertiary education; and helping schools, teachers and parents turn around problem behaviour through our Positive Behaviour for Learning programmes.
We are also investing more in education than ever, despite the tough economic environment. A 74% increase in early childhood education and a 30% increase in schooling over the past five years. Vote Education at $9.7billion in 2013/14 – the biggest ever budget. But, we are also being smarter in how we spend the education dollar.
If it’s not raising the achievement of our kids in big or small ways, if we can’t see progress in tiny steps or leaps and bounds, unless we can see positive growth, however we measure it, we should not be doing it. We need to give our students the best possible education we can. That means making good choices with the money we have.
It also means using data and evidence more effectively to make sure we are making the biggest difference when it comes to raising student achievement. This is not just a task for the Government, but all parts of the education system, including boards of trustees, school leaders, and teachers.
Addressing the needs of Māori, Pasifika, students with special needs, and students from lower-socio-economic backgrounds
What the evidence tells us is that too many of the kids that our system has been careless with are Māori and Pasifika students, those who come from lower socio-economic homes, and those who have special needs.
We can, and must, do better for them. For too long, too many of these young people have left school without the qualifications and skills they need to succeed. For too long they have been “those kids” said with the voice of low expectation, and dismissed with the fatalism of “we know which ones”. Well, since we do, we must not simply label, we must act. We cannot be careless about their futures. They are part of ours.
Lifting the educational achievement of these young people is the driving force behind the Government’s Better Public Service education targets.
We are ambitious and that’s why we aim, in 2017, to have:
· 98 percent of all school entrants having participated in early childhood education
· 85 percent of all 18-year-olds having achieved a minimum of a Level Two qualification, NCEA 2 or equivalent
· 55 percent of 25-34 year olds having gained an NZQF level 4 qualification
I recently released Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success, an update of the Māori education strategy, and the Pasifika Education Plan for the next five years.
These strategies build on the successes we have seen for Māori and Pasifika students, and accelerate the pace for much more of it. And, working closely with my colleague and associate, Hon Dr Pita Sharples in Budget 2013, we made significant further funding investments in backing these, and other initiatives such as Partnership Kura. Together with my colleague and associate Hon John Banks, I expect to announce the successful candidates for this new model of hope in the near future.
We also expect a fully inclusive education system in which every child with special needs is learning and succeeding. Success for All – Every School, Every Child is our plan of action to achieve this.
We are already seeing good effect with our Intensive Wraparound Service, a new and tailored approach to each individual young person and their carers. I am aware that we need to constantly improve our special education provision and we will do so in better collaboration with the sector.
A whole programme of activities is underway designed to ensure more children get support; higher quality teaching; better use of resources; better coordination between agencies; and more support for families when times get tough.
All our education strategies have strands that focus on the roles families and communities can play, to support increased education success.
$27 million investment in education initiatives aimed at vulnerable children
Thanks to much stronger data, including National Standards results, we know where we can better target our resources.
I was delighted to announce recently an investment of $27 million in 11 new, or expanded, initiatives firmly targeted where the need is greatest.
This includes $3 million over the next two years to support children in the first year of school to develop literacy and numeracy skills.
We know targeted work and initiatives are delivering results. Through our investment in these, we want to see every single child cross the line and achieve their education potential.
Ensuring teaching quality
Of course, the best way to improve the quality of education is to ensure that we have the very best teaching in our classrooms.
A skilled, ethical, well researched and well-led education profession is a vital feature of any education system.
That is why we are implementing a quality teaching agenda.
This is a package of interconnected initiatives that will help lift the quality of the profession over the long term.
We will identify and support the use of effective, evidence-based approaches to principal and teacher appraisal, including the links to professional development opportunities.
And to help schools improve their appraisal practices, we will provide targeted intervention and support for principals and teachers, and through the NZ School Trustees Association, to Boards of Trustees.
We will work with schools, and the sector, to develop professional roles that offer greater challenge and opportunity to highly effective teachers, who will then help to lead professional practice.
And we will introduce a strategy designed to raise the status of teaching as a highly valued profession in the 21st century, which will ensure we have high quality teaching and greater diversity amongst teachers.
We need a strong profession that accepts, and demands, accountability for improving achievement for every child, and professional leaders who take responsibility for leading teaching, school and system improvement.
We need a profession that isn’t afraid to take the steps necessary to ensure quality teaching is happening in every classroom, at every school, for every student.
As Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General, said in his recent visit to New Zealand “it is not the diversity of children in the classroom that is the challenge; it is the diversity of teaching practices in that classroom.”
A strong profession needs to identify and demand quality of itself and a strong leadership body, to help it do that.
We are currently considering ways to strengthen and transform the New Zealand Teachers Council to ensure we have a professional body fit for the 21st Century.
Earlier this year I established a Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG) which led engagement with the sector on proposed changes. Following an intensive consultation period, the MAG provided me with a number of recommendations.
I intend to publicly release the MAG report soon and I thank Dr Graham Stoop and his team who undertook this work.
Improving learning outcomes through professional leadership
Of course, the quality of teaching is directly affected by the quality of leadership within which it occurs.
We need professional leaders to have a relentless focus on developing and practicing quality teaching.
We need professional leaders to create the right conditions to encourage teaching that can, and will, lift achievement for all our students, and not allow any of our children to fall behind.
Teaching and leadership are the two most important in-school influences on how our children achieve in school.
That is why we are working hard to promote and support a profession that can provide the very best for our education system; a profession that is willing to learn and develop alongside its students.
Principals play a vital part in leading the way, in setting the tone. They are responsible for supporting their staff to push themselves and strive to improve their performance.
They must set the bar high and make their expectations of them and themselves clear. They must also create the conditions for these expectations to be met, and hold their staff and themselves accountable when they are not.
They are responsible for supporting the innovation that will drive change and improve performance at their school.
We are already seeing these innovations at all levels of the education system – from primary schools embracing new initiatives aimed at children falling behind, such as Sylvia Park School’s Mutukaroa programme to support vulnerable children in their first year at school, East Tāmaki’s embrace of maths initiatives, Māngere Central’s online learning of Japanese; to secondary schools offering new vocational pathways through trades academies and service academies, such as those in the Southern Initiative or out in West Auckland or the various versions of the Canterbury Fridays, where schools have created multiple pathways and flexible timetabling to work with the student, rather than always and forever expecting the student to fit the institution.
There are many wonderful, innovative initiatives being taken in schools up and down the country and we need to surface them more. We need to inspire our communities with the work that schools are doing and create a more constructive conversation in which those communities wants to participate. We must create a culture of celebration and in so doing raise the status and value of the profession.
Developing transparent accountabilities, appropriate learning environments and infrastructure
We have around 760,000 students in primary and secondary education. We need to ensure that we get it right for every single one.
The Government is committed to strengthening governance in our schools, and giving schools and parents a clear picture of how their children are progressing and achieving in their learning.
These two commitments are intrinsically linked. I am talking about the role of parents in demanding responsive, effective education, and the role of Boards of Trustees, as governors, in representing their communities’ interests in terms of a school’s direction and outcomes.
Again to give substance to our intent, we increased funding to the NZ School Trustees Association by 84% in Budget 2013 and are in the process of centralising all authority for Board support in this body.
Our work on governance establishes a more deliberate and strategic approach to how we will support parents and communities – the ‘demand side’ to improve student achievement if you like, along with the ‘supply side’ of better governance.
An important step in this approach is our Public Achievement Information (PAI), which gives parents, whānau and the community a rich and comprehensive body of information showing how their children are progressing and achieving.
This information will provide a basis for parents and whānau to talk with their teachers about improving achievement, and with their boards about school policies and resourcing decisions – giving them a voice in their child’s progress and encouraging them to work in partnership with their child’s school to support their education.
As some of you may have seen recently we published the Territorial Authority education profiles in all the national leading newspapers. This contributes to the set of infographics that we have developed at national, regional, and local level.
We recognise for all parents their children’s success at school is a high priority. The information released allows parents and communities to have a fuller picture of how their children are doing at school, and how they can better support their daughter or son at their school.
As soon as I became Minister of Education I said we needed to start using the data we collect, and to collect data we don’t have, to focus our attention and resources.
Our mantra in the Ministry and with schools is about shifting away from statistics to numbers, from numbers to names, and from names to needs. We have to make the story of our young people real. Plus – informed use of data is a characteristic of top performing education systems.
Now for the first time, I am pleased to be able to bring together in one place a report on the metrics which track progress of our children through the education system. That tells us how we are doing and where we can do better. As with so many aspects of education it is a story of continuous improvement – based on knowing rather than guessing.
While a very strong focus on partnerships with parents and the community is one characteristic of successful schools, so is an unwavering focus on student learning and achievement. This starts with the Board of Trustees.
A recent amendment to the Education Act has established the primary duty of boards to be to perform their functions in ways that ensure students are able to achieve their highest possible educational standards.
The aim is to put boards at the centre of the school performance and accountability process. They are, after all, both governors of the school, and representatives of a school community and by a large proportion, parents.
21st Century learning environments
The Government recognises that investing in education means that schools need high-quality infrastructure, and the types of environments that will support the delivery of future-focused teaching and learning practices.
The Government has increased its investment in infrastructure, so that we can :
· deliver 21st Century learning environments that feature safe, flexible, sustainable and inspiring learning spaces
· support the high level of digital literacy needed by today’s learners in a competitive global economy
It is the combination of investing in our schools, classrooms and digital infrastructure; in fast and improved access to quality content online services – and the technology skills of our teachers – that will help bridge the digital divide and deliver the dividends we are seeking.
My colleague and Associate Minister Hon Nikki Kaye, is doing a superb job with this cluster of responsibilities.
Role of technology and ultra-fast broadband in today’s education system
Our aim is for young New Zealanders to be the most digitally literate in the world so they can have every opportunity to be more innovative and better compete in a modern economy.
To achieve this, change will have to happen across the education sector, so that teaching and learning can make the most of new applications, tools and content.
The challenge for school leaders is to maximise the potential of new technologies by effectively integrating them into teaching and learning.
We must recognise how much of the change is being driven by students themselves, and how eager they are to explore the possibilities of online learning with their teachers.
A digitally supported learning environment offers students opportunities to be more active participants in the learning process.
Government has prioritised schools for fibre connections so that by 2016, all schools will have access to the world of digital learning opportunities. Already 1,800 schools are connected to fibre, and ready for service. This includes 750 schools connected under the Rural Broadband Initiative and 39 remote schools that now have an improved broadband service via alternative technologies.
Without government’s investment and support many of these rural and remote schools would not have the digital learning opportunities now available to them. These are the kind of opportunities that many students in urban areas have had for some time – the digital divide is narrowing.
To ensure all teaching spaces are networked and ready for ultra-fast broadband the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP) is progressively upgrading the internal IT networks in schools. Over half of all eligible schools have now been upgraded. Additional funding was provided earlier this year to accelerate this work and ensure all eligible schools will be upgraded by 2016.
Network for Learning
The most significant step towards realising the digital dividends of ultra-fast broadband is the establishment of the Network for Learning. The Government recently announced that the N4L has signed a contract with Telecom to provide the managed network for all New Zealand schools.
There has been an overwhelming response to the news – already, close to half of all schools have already registered their interest in the managed network product.
The Government has so far committed $211 million over the next eight years to deliver a funded package of fast, high-quality, connections with uncapped data to schools. By the end of 2014, 700 schools will be connected to the managed network and 2016 will see all schools invited to connect.
Combined with the investment in fibre connections to schools and SNUP, Government’s commitment to fund schools into the managed network represents a total investment of $700 million in digital infrastructure.
Portal, content and services, and new opportunities
The N4L will also be delivering a portal as a central hub for digital learning so that teachers and students can better connect, collaborate and create new resources. The portal will be available to all schools from February 2014.
The goal is that the portal will enable greater access to rich learning resources and services, and unite teachers, students, school administrators and providers in a safe and collaborative environment.
Although all our students will benefit from the digital investment, our priority learners are the vulnerable children who can potentially receive the biggest dividends from UFB and the N4L. Digital technologies enable learning programmes to be specifically tailored to an individual’s strengths, needs and talents.
Access to digital devices
Nikki Kaye is currently looking at how we can ensure access to digital devices as schools progressively access high-speed internet services, connect to the Network for Learning and adopt mobile technologies.
Across the education system, we are taking action to make it work for all of our students. But it cannot, will not, and should not work without strong leadership from across ECE, primary and secondary sectors.
You are the pivotal part of a system that is transforming around you. This is not an easy role to have, but I have faith in your leadership and your abilities.
The challenges ahead of us are extensive, but I know that you, as the leaders of education, can tackle the difficulties head on.
Thank you once again for your time.
Whaia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei.
Strive for the ultimate, and if you must bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.