Improving schools that fail is one of the most important things we can do to give children better lives. ACT has a plan to reform schools that fail, including allowing successful schools to take them over to give more children access to an excellent education.

ACT will:

  • Use information on school attendance and educational progress to prioritise ERO school inspections.
  • Ensure ERO’s school evaluation reports are consistent and based on clear, objective, and relevant criteria.
  • Improve the Ministry of Education’s slow and ineffective approach to managing under-performance by enforcing a clear and structured intervention process for identifying and intervening in under-performing schools.
  • Replace the current practice of appointing a limited statutory manager or commissioner to a struggling school. A tendering process would enable existing school operators to apply to take over schools that fail. Applications would consider the school operator’s track record of success. Where there is more than one school operator interested in the takeover, the Ministry would be responsible for selecting the best candidate based on who would best serve the school community.
  • Evaluate the outcomes of school interventions, as persistent failure is likely to indicate system-wide weaknesses in the education system.

Parents should have a greater choice of schools to send their children to and greater access to high-performing schools. Children should be able to attend the schools that give them the best chances of success.

However, there is a problem: what to do about schools that fail? Some school boards don’t have the capability to turn around struggling schools and it takes too long to shut down schools that fail.

This is creating educational inequality between children who are getting a quality education and those who aren’t. Attending a school that fails can have dire, far-reaching consequences for a child. It isn’t good enough to simply allow the status quo to persist.

The problem with the status quo is two-fold: there is not enough information being collected to help identify struggling schools, and the solutions for dealing with schools that fail don’t make the most of existing knowledge, skills, and good practice.

ACT will strengthen the process for identifying schools that fail and establish a more standardised process for intervention. For schools that struggle to improve under this model, ACT will enable successful school boards to take over the governance of schools that fail. Where there is more than one school operator interested in the takeover, the Ministry will be responsible for selecting the best candidate based on who could best serve the school community.

Every student deserves an excellent education, and every parent should have the ability to move their child to a school that best fits their unique needs. Both are possible, as long as struggling schools are dealt to quickly and effectively. In this way, excellence can be spread to the students and communities most in need.

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