This is a powerful critique of two decades of educational reform in New Zealand, from an educator who was deeply involved. It is also a provocative call for action.
Bali Haque has been both a secondary school principal required to implement reform and a senior public servant in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) tasked with pushing through changes.
The book analyses four major reforms since 1989: Tomorrow’s Schools, the NCEA, the revised New Zealand Curriculum and the National Standards. It explores the role of the Ministry of Education, the PPTA, and secondary school principals, and asks some fundamental questions about how we define and measure school and teacher quality and the extent to which schools and teachers can be expected to overcome socioeconomic disadvantage in homes. It examines how well ERO makes decisions about school quality, how useful our decile system is, and the extent to which NCEA results provide any useful measure of school quality.
In a final “future pathways” section, the author sets out his proposals to address the problems and concerns raised throughout the book.
With clearly defined topics and summaries in each chapter, this is an accessible and absorbing read. It will be of interest to principals, teachers, Board of Trustees members, parents, public servants and politicians.
Bali Haque is a career educator, having led successful change in four secondary schools ranging in size from 650 to 2200 students. He has been an executive member of the PPTA and President of the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand, as well as a deputy chief executive at NZQA responsible for the NCEA. At the end of 2014 he completed a 3-year assignment leading the National College in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.