Archive for February 2012

Talk-ED: An ode to semantics

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
23 February 2012

One of my favourite cartoons is a Jules Feiffer (NY Times) in which an old man sits in his chair and reflects.

“I used to think to think I was poor.

Then they told me I wasn’t poor, I was needy.

Then they told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy, I was deprived.

Then they told me deprived was a bad image, I was underprivileged.

Then they told me underprivileged was over-used. I was disadvantaged.

I still don’t have a dime.

But I have a great vocabulary!”

I thought of this on several recent occasions when I have got involved in discussions about words to use when describing the groups of students who enjoy little success in education systems. It’s an international issue – what you refer to them as. So too is the fact that such groups exist!

We have a range of words at our disposal that includes underserved, underrepresented, disadvantaged, special needs, and so on. Each captures something of the essence of the groups we are talking about but each also carries with it, like all words, certain linguistic baggage.

Special Needs

Often this is used to refer to students who require different or enhanced approaches. In New Zealand it seems largely to have been applied to students with disabilities of some kind or another and there is a reluctance, appropriate I think, to apply it to students who are largely without disability but who are not making progress.

This has some difficulties. For instance, if a student enters a system with a language background that is different from the lingua franca of the system then clearly they have “a special need”. If a student is gifted in mathematics, they have “a special need.”  There might even be a case to be made that each and every student has a special need but…

Disadvantaged

This word usefully describes a phenomenon – disadvantage – and is less precise about its target. Disadvantage can be the result of a number of things which do not produce a positive outcome and leave an individual not able to enjoy benefits that others can. Being hard of hearing in a meeting in a noisy setting produces disadvantage. So disadvantage is a useful word but has limitations when applied to a student. The disadvantage is usually a set of factors that are outside the student or wrapped up in the inability of the education system to work effectively with students from a diverse range of backgrounds or social settings. It is not a useful description because it blurs the sources of disadvantage.

Underrepresented

Now this is a factual description. In the US there is no doubt about who is being referred to when the term “traditionally underrepresented” is used. Take the winners in examinations – who is not there in the numbers they should be? Take the NCEA results – why is there discrepant figures for different groups? I like “underrepresented” as a word that draws attention to flaws in statements and results and analyses. Take the PISA results – yes we do brilliantly but which groups are underrepresented in sharing that brilliant performance. Conversely, take the NEETs group and which groups are “overrepresented”?

Underserved

This is a trickier word. Does it imply blame? Does it picture the relationships between teachers and students, schools and communities, education systems and groups within the population as ones in which one party are responsible for “serving” the other? Well yes it does and so it should. But one can “serve” without any hint of “subservience”.

If in the queue for breakfast the kitchen runs out of food before everyone has their food, some will not be served. If this repeatedly happens to the same group, they are most certainly “underserved” by the kitchen and, frankly, only the kitchen can solve it.

So “underserved” means something different from the others, it is based on a pattern and in education systems that pattern is pretty clear for some groups. So too is it in health systems, housing provision, the employment stakes and so on. It is not peculiar to education. Where there are systems there are generally individuals and groups that are underserved.

All this is a difficult issue because people bring meaning to words that might differ from the intended meaning of those who write or speak them. Do we call those we teach “students” or “pupils” – they are not exactly synonymous but both are better than the ubiquitously used “kids”, this makes us seem like goats!

There are discussions often about teaching and learning – that’s an easy one.

Of course we could simply refer accurately to the groups who generally do not benefit from education systems to the same extent as other groups. These are clear across different countries – Maori and Pasifika in New Zealand, Aboriginal communities in Australia, First Nations groups in Canada, Hispanic and African American in the USA and in the UK, children from immigrant groups. Across all these countries those who bring English as an additional language to the system will have some uphill paths to tread, it doesn’t pay to be of low socio-economic status (i.e. poor) and students with special needs will require strong advocacy to get the help they need and are entitled to.

We know all this, we know that we are not getting the results we should and must. Doing something about it requires us not to talk about it but to act on it. It is the results students get not the way they are described that will make a difference. It is what we do not what we say that will lead to more equitable outcomes.

“Priority learners” is gaining ground in New Zealand lately. I worry about how that word attracts “high” and “low” so easily.

 

Talk-ED: You say tomato I say tomato, you say academic I say vocational

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
15 February 2012

 

I have no understanding why it is so. Perhaps it is because we have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears and lots of other bits and pieces in twos. But humans like us seem to have a fixation about binary opposites – life and death, night and day, evil and good, yin and yang. This last pair does shed some light on the issue – they are opposites, each cannot exist without the other, they impact on each other through mutual consumption and, I read, “one can change into the other, but it is not a random event, happening only when the time is right. For example: Spring only comes when winter is finished.”

This might be helpful in understanding why we are so fond of such distinctions in education – content/theory, product/process, and of course learning/teaching. But no distinction is more of an issue than that odd couple, “academic” and “vocational”.

Once there was something of a distinction. Academic was higher education, it was learning about much that improved the quality of life, of thinking and was the basis of an educated and knowledgeable person. Its purpose was not explicitly utilitarian. And this persisted until quite recently.

In the 1970s I went to school one day and mentioned to a group of colleagues that I had finished my DipEd to complement my MA. The Head of the Languages Department’s only comment was “Ah, Stuart, teachers might have an MA DipEd but gentlemen simply have an MA.” The grubby trappings of a vocational qualification were not for him.

But things have changed. The first is that the universities have become blatantly vocational. It is likely that this has been driven within the university by marketing and outside it by a community awash with cupidity. Increasingly degrees are offered that relate to a job rather than to an academic discipline – teaching, town planning, natural therapies, physiotherapy and so on. This reverse creeping credentialism (the modern dumbing down) has ushered in a decline in the value placed on the generic degrees such as BA and BSc that were once the platform from which post-graduate work of a more specifically employment related nature (sometimes taught outside the university) was possible.

A further issue is that there is no longer any clear vertical distinction between the vocational and the academic.  Much that qualifies people for work in business, industry and commerce which is vocational is very academic. The academic demands of such programmes are substantial. It used to be the case that you could enter professions (or were they vocations?) such as nursing and teaching with a middle level of achievement in a secondary school. Now you must enter the profession through the degree portal. Has the work changed to that extent?

And has this worked? Hardly.

When I reached the end of my primary schooling I was enrolled for a carpentry course at a Technical High School. This was a vocational secondary school that offered a wide range of technical and commercial subjects that led quickly into employment. The primary school Principal intervened and cautioned my parents that I should not pursue this vocational pathway because I was academic. For many years I was a very poor academic (and might well still be). Looking back there is some regret that we took notice of the advice.

The system largely solved the issue of increased difficulty in leading young people into employment by spreading comprehensive secondary education across our system and cleansing the curriculum of vocational skills other than in a generalised way that was academic and in no sense clearly vocational. And this was largely because the tracking / streaming that was implied by the system that was used to pursue vocational pathways became discredited. We had no choice but to try retain students longer in secondary education and this has had mixed success.

Consequently the issues of the academic / vocational debate have been transferred to the tertiary sector. But without the secondary / tertiary interface becoming blurred and porous, the grip on vocational courses by institutions that see themselves as academic will result in them becoming less accessible.

We will only start to meet the needs of all students if institutions do not continue to dine out, gorge indeed, on the sacred nature of that which is academic.

Academic is the new vocational. And vocational now requires much better academic preparation than the education system is currently delivering. As Dorothy Meier said back in 1994, “That academics has become the path all children must pursue in order to meet their non-academic aspirations – from engineer to lawyer to bookkeeper – is absurd”  If it was absurd back then it must surely the height of silliness now.

The use of academic and vocational is no longer a distinction and has instead become a distraction.

 

Pathways-ED: Oh dear me! It's the OECD! And we should be taking notice.

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
16 February 2012

 

The importance of educational success to economic growth is now well and truly accepted across many discipline. It was interesting therefore to have my attention drawn last week to a report from the OECD that argues increased investment in “disadvantaged schools and students to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance.”

The proportion of 25-34 years-old who have not completed upper secondary school now averages 20%. New Zealand is listed at 21% but look at the countries that are lower than us: Greece, Italy, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Turkey. Do these names ring a bell in recent media coverage about weak economies, threats of depression and civil unrest? WE are running a risk of joining a club the membership of which a greatly not to be sought in economic terms.

The basic argument of the report is simple. The disengaged, the drop-outs, “are most often from poor or immigrant families, or have poorly educated parents. They are also more likely to attend schools with fewer resources, and their parents cannot generally afford private tutoring.” Are the bells still ringing?

The OECD Report suggests five strategies for tackling the issue.

1          Eliminate the repetition of material studies, levels repeated, having a second shot in order to improve results

New Zealand doesn’t do much of this which is estimated to consume as much as 10% of the annual spending on schooling in some countries. Rather, we push students on to the next level regardless and create considerable accumulated failure as a result. We run a lock-step system. If we were able to work genuinely towards individual pathway plans (call them what you will) we could reach higher levels of effectiveness. A start would be clear unequivocal statements about expectation for learning at crucial points

2          Avoid early tracking or streaming where lower tracks  are generally an educational death warrant.

In the general education system we have pretty well done away with tracking (or streaming as we know it) but in order to throw it out, we indiscriminately also threw out the capacity to provide genuinely differentiated programme in the senior secondary school for which we have paid a heavy price and about which I have written on many occasions.

3          Manage school choice to avoid segregation

It is a clear international trend to improve parental choice. But in doing so it is difficult to avoid segregation between school type or characteristics. Just as our worst areas of housing in New Zealand are the direct outcome of planning decisions – those suburbs were generally planned and built quite deliberately. Now we wonder how to transform them.

So too with schools and this is exacerbated by the convenience of the decile labelling system. The report concludes that there needs to be positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged schools and financial incentives for advantaged schools to take their share of the high maintenance students from disadvantaged communities.

4          Allocate funding according to student needs and invest in early age.

No argument here. But how? Well obviously the decile rating system gives us a crude tool to know where disadvantaged students are clustered. If we are serious, we would be directing greatly increased funding in that direction but, here’s the rub, not simply to continue to do what we have always done! And managing the accountability/autonomy equation more effectively would also help.

Perhaps the proportions spent on sectors need addressing. The OECD average spend on see 2.5 times more spent on tertiary education than on the early childhood education system.  (In New Zealand that difference is a whacking 3.8 times in favour of tertiary. We are probably getting the results we can expect from the investments we are making.

5          “Encourage students to complete by improving the quality of secondary-level vocational training courses including work-based training, and making the different secondary pathways equivalent.”

This is heartening since New Zealand is starting to recognise just these actions as critical to turning around the issues of disengagement and dropping out. Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, Service Academies, Vocational Pathways, Secondary / Tertiary Programmes, Gateway and STAR are all policies and actions that have the potential to impact on those issues. We also have through NCEA the potential to give equivalence between pathways even though there is a possibility of this being put at risk by changes made to NCEA and the promotion of alternative examinations. Strong government leadership is required in this area.

So if New Zealand aspires to climb up from 26th (out of 34 countries) in the OECD disengagement/drop-out stakes it might pay to give attention to reports such as this. I shudder to think of where we would be if we were not a bipolar system that has an extraordinary high level of performance for enough students to balance against the high level of underachievement.

Is there a tipping point in all this? And how far ahead might it be?

 

Talk-ED: Learning – the deep end or stick to the shallow stuff?

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
13 February 2012

 

From time to time every educator should get into learning at the deep end!

I had decided that I would like to swim for exercise for a change and that would mean I would have to swim better than I could. So I have enrolled in lessons.

Of course, like most learners I had considered that I could swim all those years since being taught in primary school. I am not at all sure that the teachers who bravely stood at the edge of the pool and sent us back and forth across the shallow end with wooden flutter boards met the requirements for swimming instruction but they did their best.

Even though it was a primary school, the pool was very deep indeed at the deep end and we were strictly not allowed to head in that direction. So there was much fund raising and a better learner’s pool was opened just after we left. When we got to intermediate school there was no pool and with much fundraising a pool was built and opened just after we left. At high school there was similarly no pool and after huge fundraising a pool opened just a few weeks before we left.

We spent a lot of time at the pools in Hamilton, the one at Hamilton Technical College was large and new and the “Municipal Pool” large and old. But all that time spent over many summers never improved our basic skill in swimming.

There was a degree of paranoia in my family generated by my Grandmother who thought that danger started when the water reached your knees which limited the opportunities to actually swim. We were expected to enjoy the ocean to the same extent and in much the same way as a pod of stranded whales might enjoy the ocean.

One Sunday at the Hamilton Lake I fell fully clothed off the little jetty thing that was jutted out into water well above my depth. I was grateful that bystanders fetched me back up onto the jetty. Was Grandma thrilled that I was safe? If she was it didn’t show as I was soundly admonished for swimming when I had been clearly told not to. You can understand why water sports didn’t feature much among our activities.

So it has been off to lessons. I have long believed that when you are learning something there is a very small number of things that must be understood, principles that are central and critical to your understanding and consequent performance. The first lesson was a revelation as the teacher described some basic principles of swimming that I had never had pointed out to me over many years.

These really are quite simple – when you swim your body should be very straight from the tips of your fingers to your toes, you kick from the hips not the knees, keep your chin down and when you turn your head to breathe turn your shoulders with it.

Now understanding these has been very helpful and my previous fish-out-of-water thrashing is slowly being replaced by the swift gliding motion of graceful boat through the water. (That last bit is an exaggeration really but I can honestly report that there has been pleasing progress.)

I will not reveal which pool where all this is happening as I do not want crowds to gather to see this such as happened with Opo in the Hokianga back in the summer of 1955-1956 but it is an urban pool, free to the community and very well used. My lessons have been at 12.10pm on a Sunday. The pools have generally been crowded at that time except for the lanes kept clear for instruction.

This added to my anxiety. I felt some nervousness about this. Would I be the object of amusement being several years older than the clientele generally? What if I came across someone I knew? Would my egg-beater style attract attention of the wrong sort? Would I be humiliated?

You see, being a learner is a pretty exposed state to be in.

What I quickly realised was that nobody other than the teacher took the slightest bit of notice of my having a lesson – anxiety is such an egocentric thing!  They all went about their business at the pools and left me to what I was doing. The worries were in my head and not actually real. That is typical of learners too. No Mummy!  They will laugh at me. I won’t be able to do it! I don’t know anyone in the class!

But as with so many five year olds, I left the first lesson exhilarated and happy – this is going to be good, I will achieve what I was wanting which was to swim with ease. More importantly, something that had until now been tedious will become more enjoyable. It’s neat how good learning experiences enable you to leave the shallow end and get into it in more depth!

 

Pathways-ED: Their brilliant career – all I want is a job!

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
9 February 2011

A number of times lately in discussion with different kinds of people, the question of which word we should choose to describe the post-formal education destination of a students has arisen.

I favour using the simple word “job”. But this I am told is limiting and “career” would be a better choice. Even “employment” seems to be favoured ahead of “job”. But the words we use matter and the words that have impact on students matter. Our thinking is not just formulated by the words we used but actually formed by them. They are very important.

This is not a trivial issue. Currently questions are being raised about the effectiveness of “careers” advice and much thought is being directed at the nature of it, the way it works and when it should be delivered.

Let me nail my piece to the door. I believe that “career” is a concept that comes largely after the event. It is a qualitative judgment about a person’s continuous work over a long period of time. It is often used by people other than the person it is being applied to. “She has had a stellar career” might well be said of a person who could be reluctant to think of herself in these terms.

Children in middle class homes, the homes of the professionals, grow up with a sense of what a “career” is because there are people in the home who have had one, or know of people who have.

A “career” is something of a collective noun for a series of jobs that are connected and cumulatively add up to something.

I don’t want to here discuss careers education other than to say that it seems to me to be a lot like sex education – too little, too late and when it happens, overly obsessed with the mechanics of connection.

We might get much more traction and reach new levels of effectiveness in the advice we give to young people by using the word “job”. Is the point of education the development of a sets of skills, knowledge, dispositions and aspirations that will carry people into a job with enthusiasm and certain in their knowledge that their education will continue even though their schooling might stop?

That is why multiple exit points and pathways are needed. Some students need to make the school / job transition more quickly than others, some need to get onto a pathway along which they clearly see a job waiting for them at an earlier point. Others can sustain a more distant view of a job, perhaps even wrapped up in the concept of a career but not many.

So, let’s start being comfortable with the practice of making clear the link between “schooling” and “jobs” with a view to getting increased numbers into work. Such a commitment will not dent in any way the numbers who are heading for university or who have a view of where they are going. However it will be absolutely central to making inroads into the ranks of the disengaging and those who leave school to drift into the NEET group.

Making explicit the purpose of schooling is an important change we could make if we are to tackle the issues of dropping out and disengagement. We need to agree on and then work to a clear equation:   Schooling + Job = Purpose.  There is plenty of evidence that purpose is the very thing that many successful students have and many unsuccessful students do not. It might also be the difference between an effective teacher and an ineffective one (and this is not a comment on competence).

Perhaps the confusion about schooling that a group of students has is shared by their teachers. This is sad if it is true for such teachers will find it hard to aspire to a “career” in teaching and will instead become increasingly unhappy about the “job”.

The old battle cry of the teaching world in the 1960’s was “Give us the tools and we will do the job!” By and large any increase in resources was used to continue to do the same thing and not surprisingly the results were the same. Now demographic pressures and the realities of the sort of economy we have, demand different results which can only result from working differently.

A good start would be an affirmation that education should lead to a job and that this could happen at a number of points none of which need threaten the pathways that see students reach high levels of qualifications. But we must attack that group who end their encounter with education after eight or ten or 13 years and are either unemployable or ill-prepared to continue in education. It is not a mystery.

An orientation on “jobs” might be the solution.

 

Talk-ED: "Follow me! I'm right behind you!"

(claimed to have been the call from a World War I General)

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
7 February 2012

Another Waitangi Day comes and goes and I am not sure whether we are better off because of it. What makes me wonder is whether or not we continue to have the will to be a great country or are content to get into the scrum of a country that is safe and OK. Have our aspirations as a country lowered in order to make the challenges seem less daunting?

Take education. New Zealand has a history of striking out to do what others had not attempted to do. A universal, free and secular education system was introduced ahead of other countries. Incrementally, access to free education was extended upwards.

Dr Beeby, working with a willing Minister, was quite prepared to put a line in the sand that represented a commitment to each and every young person.

We led the world in the focus we brought to reading in our system and high levels of literacy were an expectation, not simply a goal in a strategy. Sylvia Ashton-Warner, arguably New Zealand’s most famous educator took us to places where we simply had to think again about how we taught in diverse settings. Dame Marie Clay and reading recovery was later profoundly influential across the world both English-speaking and in other settings such as Singapore.

None of this happened because people such as these were content to follow. They took a lead and took New Zealand to good places as a result.

I have spent a good deal of time over the past five years thinking about our progress as an education system and have come to a point where I see clear dangers in our continuing to follow the examples of our peer education systems in the United States, Great Britain, Australia and Canada (with the possible exception of Ontario). By and large, this set of countries, along with New Zealand, is headed towards a bad space.

It is not really anyone’s fault in as much as in these countries no-one is responsible for educational failure. We are becoming soft in accepting that it happens. It is not good, but, shucks, that is how it is.

Well, it needn’t be so. If New Zealand could with confidence stride off in some new directions we might be able to once again lead rather than follow.

How we could do this is to look at elements in systems that do better than us and using the underlying principles, consider how we might bring about change.

Example #1. Some systems such as those of Scandanavia, Netherlands and Germany take more students to positive outcomes than we do. To do this they have different institutions at the senior secondary level that offer different and flexible pathways for students. Well we don’t want a whole swag of additional institutions. Taking the principles of differentiation and pathways we could with little disruption adapt our senior secondary system to achieve results at least as good as those other systems.

Example #2. We lose quite a few students along the way and really have little idea of why and perhaps even who they are. Other systems track and monitor students in a variety of ways and by allocating responsibility to different groups – educators in some systems, local government in others and social welfare agencies in a few. The principle is that tracking and monitoring is valuable and should be done by someone. Now that is not hard and a decision on this could be made surely.

We need to be competitive in a real sense – looking at the best practices overseas and  turning them into practices which reflect the way we work in New Zealand, a small education system that spends enough money but is increasingly not getting the results.

So, there is no need to simply replicate stuff from other countries uncritically.

There is a mountain of evidence as to the success or otherwise of “charter schools” (and their other iterations as “free schools” and “academies”). It would be absurd to simply set out to have such institutions in New Zealand without considering the evidence, looking at the principles that underpin them and as appropriate turn those principles into a uniquely New Zealand way of working to the greater advantage of more young people.

Let’s not follow them blindly but be smart and lead once more.

Take the suggestion that we need a web site like Australia has with the www.myschool.edu.au – a site where you can see how good the local school is and how it compares to other schools. Well it is a pretty good site that gives good comprehensive information about each school and it requires an effort to use it for comparisons between schools. Let’s not copy it but look at how it could supplement the web sites that pretty well all New Zealand schools have. And National Standards are not NAPLAN thank goodness.

I think I have mentioned previously a colleague in London who wonders why New Zealand has any educational issues at all. “After all,” he says “you are such a small country you could all get together at the weekend and sort it out!”

Yes, we could. The tragedy is that we don’t.

 

Pathways-ED: Chatter about the charter!

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
2 February 2012

 

I really thought that the whole Charter School thing would simply die away but no, the Government is keen to pursue the idea.

Well let’s get a few things straight. The development of Charter Schools in other countries was intended to produce a new kind of school that could challenge the conventional schools. So what are the key characteristics of a Charter School?

1.    Charter Schools are freed from the direct control of a Department of Education or an education board or a local authority.

In the USA and the UK schools are typically under the tight control of a department of education, a schools district or board. The charter schools were set up to free them from this and to give to each school some autonomy.

Tomorrow’s Schools gave to New Zealand schools exactly the same level of autonomy that Charter Schools have.

2.      Charter Schools have a charter.

So does each and every New Zealand School. Unlike New Zealand schools where the Charter is between the Government and the local community (as represented in the Board of Trustees), the overseas Charter Schools could have such Charters between any number of groups and the Government. But actually there is some evidence that where the Charter is with a community-based group, the Charter School is likely to be more successful so we are already on the right road!

Our integrated schools and independent schools have a similar arrangement where the “Charter” is between the “proprietors” and the Government.

 3.    Charter Schools have the freedom to appoint their own staff.

So do all New Zealand schools. We forget that New Zealand schools have an autonomy that is unparalleled in other English speaking-countries.

 4.    Charter Schools are bulk funded.

So too could New Zealand schools be bulk-funded and indeed that was the intention some time ago but ideology won out in the end and it was withdrawn. It remains the last great freedom that New Zealand schools could have and there will be little accountability in the schooling system until it is achieved. So let’s not think that we need Charter Schools to achieve this.

 5.    Charter Schools have a special focus or special character.

So to can New Zealand schools and indeed some have in their charter the right to focus on a special character. We have not exploited this to any great extent. Charter Schools in the USA especially have a special character that is related to an interest (performing arts etc) or a discipline (STEM is popular) and so on. We could be much more adventurous in this area and the only progress we have made is to see a handful of primary schools have a special focus on technology. Of course the church schools have a special character, so too do the kura kaupapa.

 6.    Charter Schools select their students usually by ballot.

We use this where there is demand but the difference is that Charter Schools have no zone and they compete for students across a wider range of the community. Since it takes a certain kind of parent /caregiver to seek these opportunities for their children (and I have no issue with that) it is a selection of a selection that finally get to go to them.

 7.    Charter Schools attract private money and sponsorship.

This is a peculiarly American thing. Private money flows easily to US schools and colleges – it is simply the American Way. Indeed Bill Gates set out to put right what he saw as one of the key things wrong with the entire world – the American High School. The other thing wrong with the world was, in his view, communicable diseases. He has this week announced that his sole focus would now be on these diseases.

There is no tradition of private funding of state schools in New Zealand and what examples we have are valuable to the schools but relatively minor in nature.

8.    Charter Schools have been set up to be the panacea.

What Bill Gates discovered was that there was no panacea in education. Quality is quality; good is good and better is better.

Like most school systems, Charter Schools are a mixed bag – some work well, some fail and most are indistinguishable in their outcomes from the government system they sought to replace. We do not need an experiment or trial in New Zealand to find out all that is abundantly clear already.

The risk we take with the Charter Schools effort is to be distracted from the facts. All New Zealand schools have the advantages of a Charter School and the challenge to those who would make changes is to see that they are all, without exception, excellent Charter Schools.

And that is the big wake-up call. It is the Government that is the body holding the Charter for each New Zealand school and with that, comes responsibility. We are a small system and well within our grasp to get things right in every school. Then we can hold our heads high and say that New Zealand got the Charter School thing right.