Our operating context
Education system performance at a glance
Over the last decade, the performance of the New Zealand education system has improved against a number of indicators. For example:
- prior participation in early childhood education by year 1 learners in schools has continued to increase slightly each year
- school leavers with NCEA Levels 1 and 2 have increased significantly
- participation and completion rates at some levels in tertiary education have increased
In the diagram below, the dark grey, solid line represents baseline data and the yellow, dashed line shows current data, demonstrating progress across each system indicator.
When the yellow, dashed line is outside the dark grey, solid line, the performance of the indicator has improved over time.
View a larger version of the spider diagram showing current education system performance against baseline data [GIF; 75kb]
Despite progress, there remains considerable room for further improvement. In 2010, approximately a quarter of school leavers failed to achieve NCEA Level 2, which is considered a minimum requirement for further education or employment. Progress to increase the number of people achieving higher-level qualifications has been slow; the number of people achieving qualifications at bachelors level has been static over recent years.
Overall system results mask significant performance issues for our education system for particular groups of learners, namely Māori learners, Pasifika learners, learners with special education needs and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds.
The Government has identified four key priorities for the next three years. They are:
- responsibly managing government finances
- delivering better public services
- building a more competitive and productive economy
- rebuilding Canterbury.
The education system has a significant contribution to make to each of these priorities.
Responsibly managing government finances
Responsibly managing government finances requires a focus on returning New Zealand’s economy to surplus by 2014/15. The amount of funding the Government expects to spend on education is constrained for the foreseeable future. Any and all investments must deliver clear and measurable gains for learners, and must contribute to the Government’s overall economic and social goals.
This means lower-value and lower-priority spending will be stopped and funding transferred to greater priorities. Responsibly managing expenditure, and ensuring the most efficient management of funding, will also mean continuing to identify and implement ways to lower administrative costs, moving more resources and funding to frontline services and out to the sector.
Delivering better public services
The Government is committed to providing better public services to New Zealanders. Over the next three to five years, there will be a focus on increasing skill levels and employment, reducing long-term welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, reducing crime, and improving interactions with government.
A range of five-year targets will be released in the second half of 2012 to measure progress against the Government’s goals for public services.
Education system performance will be measured in three key result areas:
- percentage of children starting school who have participated in early childhood education
- percentage of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification
- percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who have a qualification at level 4 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.
Achieving these goals will require lifting the performance of the system for Māori learners, Pasifika learners, learners with special education needs and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Key government agencies will work together, developing policies that support vulnerable children. This will require aligning regional and local delivery approaches, to ensure that vulnerable children, their families and their communities receive better public services that deliver better outcomes.
Building a more competitive and productive economy
Education has a vital role in supporting workplace productivity, innovation and economic growth. A better-performing education system will contribute to the Government’s programme of social reforms, reducing long-term and intergenerational welfare dependency and the associated poor outcomes that often accompany this.
Over the next three years, the focus will be on increasing the proportion of young people with higher-level qualifications and getting stronger alignment between the supply of skills from the education system and the needs of employers. We need to ensure that research and innovation play a stronger role in our future economy.
Rebuilding Canterbury after the series of devastating earthquakes represents an unprecedented effort for New Zealand. Significant investment, support and resources will be required and the rebuild will be challenging, not least because of ongoing seismic activity in the region. The Government is committed to rebuilding Christchurch as a vibrant and strong city.
For education, this means rebuilding damaged education infrastructure in the most effective way, given land and population changes. In some cases, education will look very different from the way it was before the earthquakes, as population movements and land decisions impact on where and how education is provided.
Education has a large role to play in supporting the labour market to operate effectively in Canterbury. The tertiary and skills sectors must be responsive to the skills needed to rebuild Canterbury and the international education sector must be supported to recover and grow, which is vital for Canterbury’s economic growth.
Key influencing factors and their implications
External drivers in the broader operating environment influence our operating context. We will continue to examine and analyse influencing factors and their implications for what we do and how we operate. We will do this through regular reviews and interactions with individuals, groups, providers and organisations in the education sector.
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is a founding document of New Zealand. The Treaty and its principles as they apply to the Ministry are adopted through two key documents – Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success and the Ministry’s Treaty of Waitangi policy statement. We are also developing Tau Mai te reo, which will guide investment in te reo Māori in education. These documents collectively seek to guide the development of all Ministry policy and practice across the education sectors.
One of the Ministry’s key priorities is to seek stronger education outcomes for Māori learners by increasing their participation and achievement in areas where they are not achieving at the same rate as or better than other learners. An important aspect of developing good policies and practices is for the Ministry to increase its understanding of how decisions affect Māori. There will be an increased focus on developing, understanding and strengthening relationships with iwi, whānau and local communities to promote engagement and input and to provide support as required.
Technology allows education providers to offer new approaches to learning that engage and connect learners across local and global networks. This equips learners with the skills they need to operate successfully in an increasingly technology-driven society. The education system must be well supported with access to ultra-fast broadband, either through a fibre connection or, in more isolated areas, through satellite technology. Better use of ultra-fast broadband and the Network for Learning will make connections and networking possible and will enable participation in the global education system.
Supporting the Auckland Plan
As our largest city, Auckland’s growth and development will lead New Zealand’s development. Recent changes to governance arrangements in Auckland have seen renewed focus on the social and economic needs of the city, and its citizens.
Education is one of the key contributors to the social and economic goals for the city. Central to this is improving the performance of the education system for and with priority groups. The Ministry will work with the Auckland Council and other government agencies to create change in this region.
Education will contribute to the Government’s goals to improve youth mental health and better support young people with mental health issues.
Education also has a significant contribution to make to the Government’s goals to deliver positive change for people with disabilities. This will include effective cross-government collaboration in priority areas, as well as specific actions for the Ministry. These areas are likely to include making services easy for families and whānau to access and navigate, working to lift the educational achievement and employment outcomes of young disabled people, and improving transitions from school by trialling the flexible use of funding to support disabled young people’s goals.