12 Changes to legislation, regulation, and government agency operations

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Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy

This is the text of the report presented to the New Zealand Parliament in December 2012

To maintain the integrity of the report, please do not edit this page

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This report indicates that in a number of areas changes to legislation, regulation, and government agency operations could allow a swifter, more seamless change from the current teaching and learning environment to one that better facilitates 21st century learning and digital literacy. We recognise that the scale of changes necessary to achieve this vision is likely to be substantial, and could have implications for the allocation of resources across the sector. The full extent of these implications will depend on the Government’s response to our recommendations.

We heard that clusters, networks, and loops of schools are not recognised and cannot be formally assessed by the Ministry of Education or the Education Review Office, and that any moves to establish “federation” or “network” schools face difficulty meeting the ministry’s policy guidelines. Submitters described this as another example of the current education system not making the learner the most important consideration. Many submitters proposed a change to the way the ministry assesses schools, so that schools can federate or operate in a network, if that is what will be best for the students. Submitters advocated that this could allow more collaboration between teachers in different schools, without removing accountability.

We heard that any move to form clusters or networks of schools challenges other aspects of the current system, including school governance. In the current system, each school is governed by its own individual board of trustees, which is responsible for setting the direction of the school and identifying goals. Some submitters said that the Education Review Office should also be able to report on schools at a regional level, so that local networks can be assessed in their entirety.

We heard repeatedly that the rules on the use of school property restrict the uptake of contemporary learning techniques and can hamper digital literacy. We also heard of the importance and benefits of improving the community and parents’ digital literacy. However, access to Internet-capable devices in some communities is limited. Some submitters told us that school hours and facilities policies need to be changed, to allow better access to the resources for students and the community they serve. These submitters argued that schools should be viewed as “learning hubs”, where learning is not restricted to certain hours of the day. If the resources are made available for longer, we feel that the community and students would have a better chance of becoming digitally literate.

We heard of potential opportunities for assessment to be carried out online in the future.

We heard from submitters that addressing these issues might entail changes to the Education Act. Changes that might be considered include changes to hours of school operation; making provision for use of schools for community purposes; conferring power to direct schools in the use of certain technologies and services; sharing student funding and allocating teachers’ time between multiple schools; and changing the role of the board of trustees. Submitters observed the need for a fundamental shift from a competitive to a more collaborative model to underpin any legislative changes to support the vision for 21st century learning.


42. We recommend that the Government consider that the Education Review Office report on the digital capability of schools in its regular school reviews.

43. We recommend that the Government consider that the Education Review Office reports include information on how well schools collaborate with other schools.

44. We recommend that the Government seek input from the sector on barriers to collaboration, and then modify policy, funding, and operational processes to actively promote collaboration.

45. We recommend that the Government review student assessment to ensure that more online assessment opportunities are realised.

46. We recommend that the Government consider possible regulations regarding the use of school buildings to support the use of digital facilities by the community.

47. We recommend that the Government assess the possible resource implications of our recommendations for ICT expenditure.

48. We recommend that the Government assess possible legislative changes in response to the recommendations in this report.