top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrad Gay

2019 or 1984?

For those not up to speed with the proposed shake up of schools here is a summary, and tongue in cheek critical analysis. So let’s welcome in BIG BROTHER.

Hopefully if anything the below stimulates some thoughts and petitioning into government due by April.

The Problems

  • Achievements in maths, science and reading are plateauing while performance in other areas are declining.

  • The current system is failing some students, particularly Maori and Pacific students, and those with disabilities and additional learning needs.

  • The gap between the best and worst performing schools is widening.

  • Principals feel isolated, teachers unsupported.

  • Enrolment schemes can be blatantly unfair.

  • Boards of Trustees shoulder too much responsibility and should be more focused on student well-being and achievement.

  • Why? The report asserts that the Board of Trustees model has created a “my school” mentality of unhealthy competition that has led to inequity. If it is not addressed through a transformational change, the economic and social consequences could supposedly be dire. Although a system with no competition could in my view be equally as as dire!


  • Scrapping the MOE regional offices and setting up 20 education hubs to have oversight of about 125 schools. Hubs to have a collaborative approach to benefit all students in the hub. Hey, isn’t that what our current MOE is meant to be doing? So let’s spend millions on reinventing a new wheel with the same tread? Well yes and no. We can all see how well that worked when they did the same with Child Youth and Family. Hey but let’s face it Hubs does sound modern and sexy. It would handle property, health and safety and HR, including hiring principals – though boards have veto power. OK, a few things here.

  • Property. Yes, totally understand this going out of BOT hands but surely they and the Principal will remain with some input? How can we prepare for the academic needs of the students with no input at BOT level or Principal level? I’m sure there will be some sense bought in here and this could actually work.

  • Health & Safety. Hmmmm I smell compliance bomb shells. I guess they will be dealing with the mass shootings from not suspending the students they should have. (See student suspensions.)

  • HR Oh no! Here is comes. The Hubs will tell BOT who are the best Principals and who we are getting. Ok BOT’s have the power of veto but…. Seriously? I do agree every BOT should have an approved employment consultant with a teaching and principal background. (I would say that as a consultant of course, but it makes sense.) I also agree that some schools don’t have the expertise and having something on offer would be beneficial. However, in all the 20 odd appointments I’ve made in my time as a consultant the BOT’s have always chosen the one I thought was probably the best fit for the school. In most cases this has proven absolutely bang on and at the end of the day you can only choose from who apply. Or will we in the future?

  • Principals. Principals can be shared across schools within the hub. Hello big brother! So how happy are you on a contract for five years? You work your guts out, buy into the school, it becomes part of who you are and then you get told man your great, this school over here is struggling so here’s your next challenge. Welcome to five more years of hard slog and burnout in a school that you feel no connection to? I bet we will see the mental wellbeing of Principals absolutely skyrocket after that. The great news is we will have a series of schools performing the same, right? Really, I mean to say with the input of zones you’re always going to get discrepancies in attainment. That’s because schools aren’t the only ones that educate kids. Parental encouragement, money and involvement is as we all know a huge determiner in students success. And anyway what are we after vanilla schools? No peak performing schools pushing the envelope that eventually leads to improved schools across the board. Or worse you have just turned 59 and and they decide your contract won’t be renewed. Don’t worry there will be a place for you in the new hubs. Yeah right.

  • PLD Brother Hubs provide PLD for curriculum and assessment for teachers, and leadership advisers to work with principals. Surely there has to be autonomy for Principals to have have the funds to get the professionals in that they choose? I see a place for schools to have access to PLD that is cutting edge but who wants to be forced into a cookie cutter state mould? We all know under the Ministry Providers there are some great people but equally there are some less motivational types in this area. Give Principals the choice and the money to choose who they want. If some schools are struggling, then by all means step in and help them out but don’t punish the whole sector. GIVE US CHOICE.

  • Hubs would decide student suspensions and also deal with complaints from parents and students, who often feel powerless in the current model. Nanny state here we come. "Yes, I know he took to the teacher with a knife but he didn’t sharpen it before he came into school so of course you have to take him back." I mean seriously, we all know how hard it is now without some Ministry person getting all gooey over the next axe murderer. Especially when they have a target to keep in schools, yeah that will work. All jokes aside this is going to add pressure to the Principals who also have a duty of care to the other students.

  • Hubs would provide smaller schools with services that they often lack, including IT, accounting and procurement advice. Yay, a great idea.

  • A national kaupapa Maori hub to be looked at. Hmmm, glad I don’t have a bilingual unit running.And what happened to the great equity for all debate here?

  • What else besides hubs? Improve student pathways and look at scrapping intermediate schools – junior high (Year 7- 10) or full primary recommended. Ok don’t have a major problem with this.

  • Limit the number of out-of-zone enrolments. This should be happening now.

  • Limit donations that schools can ask for. Yep, we wouldn’t want any competition here. Forget those new laptops or that new adventure playground that will extend your students. I hear the Rolling Stones here “I see a Red door and I want it painted BLAND.”

  • A learning support coordinator for every school for those with additional learning needs. That will be great for the two teacher schools. Isn’t this the 600 teachers

that has been promised? The idea is good but I have doubts about this being able to be executed. SO a remodel of RTLB, RTLit etc.

  • A workforce strategy to have as much diversity among teachers as the students they teach. Wait on did I hear you correctly? Bland, bland, bland opps but we will provide colour for the teachers with our indoctrinated MOE facilitators.

  • A national leadership centre for developing and supporting principals. As Pink Floyd sung, “Welcome to the machine.”

  • Ditching the decile system for an equity index, so disadvantaged schools get the money they deserve. OK could work, but what about the schools not allowed to ask for higher donations? Strangled at the top? How does this work for current decile 3-5 schools? (Read with the bird song in mind) A little bit of this and bugger all of that and you are much, much worse off.

  • Setting up an independent Education Evaluation Office, to report to Parliament annually, to monitor the whole system and cut duplication across the ERO, NZQA and Education Ministry. Yep, that’s what we need another layer of bureaucracy.

bottom of page