An education summit, representing the broad education sector, has produced a set of principles which they agree should underpin all future education policy making, irrespective of which political party is leading the government.
‘Education has become something of a political football in recent years,’ said Peter Simpson, the President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF).
‘We called this summit so that we could have a robust discussion about what we believe are the fundamental guiding principles upon which our New Zealand education system should be based,’ Simpson said.
The principles agreed by the summit are:
1. ‘Every child, irrespective of their academic ability, financial status, or geographical location will have the right to a free education of the kind for which the child is best suited.’
2. ‘Public education is an investment in the future of our country and thus will be publicly funded and will take account of social inequities in the allocation of funds.’
3. ‘NZ is a pacific nation and our education system will reflect our place in the world, recognising Maori as tangata whenua and specifically delivering for Maori and Pasifika learners.’
4. ‘The world-class NZ Curriculum will govern a child centred learning culture to ensure every child has a relevant access point to learning from the level they present, whether that is equal to, behind or beyond their peers.’
5. ‘The Teaching profession will lead teaching and learning initiatives through research informed, evidence based practices and teachers will keep their practice updated through attending relevant professional development programmes throughout their teaching careers.’
6. ‘The status of the teaching profession will be enhanced through an independent Teachers’ Council which will be self-regulating, will set teacher registration standards, teacher competencies and practice standards and will be the body of accountability for the conduct of professional teachers.’
It is well known that New Zealand achieves very high educational rankings internationally and is right up there with countries like Finland where political parties share common goals for their education system.
‘We do well and always want to do better,’ said Simpson. ‘We want to provide the learning environment that will give every New Zealand child a chance to reach their full potential. We can’t concentrate on that when we are being distracted by political parties making major policy changes which do not fit with the values of our profession,’ he said.