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Ten years on: How schools view educational reform

Cathy Wylie

This report gives the findings of the sixth survey on the impact of New Zealand education reforms since 1989, and compares them with earlier findings. Principals, trustees, parents, and teachers from a new sample of 350 schools answered comprehensive questionnaires about the impact of the reforms. Some major findings are summarised below.

Overall, while the reforms brought some positive gains, these came at a cost and were unequally spread.

  • By far the majority of principals (87%) found government funding inadequate to meet school needs, up from 73% in 1996. An increased majority of trustees (65%) also found funding inadequate.
  • School fund-raising had increased, with 38% of schools raising over $15,500 (compared with 28% in 1996).
  • Only 13% of classes had 30 or more students, half the 1996 figure. Government funding for staffing was up, but half the schools also employed extra staff, using other funds.
  • Workload and paperwork continued to rise. Principals worked 60 hours a week, teachers 51.5 hours. Trustees averaged half a day a week.
  • Parent involvement in schools continued to decline, as mothers' paid employment increased.
  • Competition between schools continued to increase. Larger proportions of principals (30%) and trustees (20%) felt their school competed with others.
  • Schools in low socio-economic areas and with high Mäori enrolment continued to have difficulty with falling rolls, staffing, and lower parental and community resources.
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Publication type: 
Research report
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