A ‘rot at the core of schooling’? The new report that gets education in NZ wrong

New Zealand’s schools are far from perfect, but Auckland school principal Claire Amos argues that a newly-released report critical of our education system is riddled with biased assumptions.

This week the New Zealand Initiative published their latest missive addressing the supposed “rot at the core of schooling in New Zealand”. Briar Lipson’s report titled New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system claims to explore “the origins and consequences of New Zealand’s unchecked adherence to child-centred orthodoxy, contrasts the scientific consensus about how children learn with the different and, in many ways, contradictory advice given to educators and policymakers, it exposes how parts of the research community confuse evidence with values, and uncovers how curriculum and assessment policy rest on a flawed philosophy”.

In plain English, the author claims that New Zealand education is in the grips of a veritable death spiral as the result

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Ministry rejects scathing report claiming to expose ‘rot at the core of schooling in NZ’



text: Briar Lipson on The AM Show.


© Video – The AM Show; Images – The AM Show/NZ Initiative
Briar Lipson on The AM Show.

The Ministry of Education is brushing off a new report which claims to have uncovered a “rot at the core of schooling in New Zealand”. 

The New Zealand Initiative says Kiwi kids’ declining success in literacy and maths is down to a focus on the “flawed philosophy” of “child-centred learning”.

“We used to be the envy of the world,” report author Briar Lipson told The AM Show on Wednesday.

“Just 20 years ago we were third in the whole world for reading and maths for 15-year-olds, and since then we’ve done nothing but decline. In reading we’re now sixth, and 19th for maths.” 

At the same time as NCEA pass rates have climbed, our students have dropped in the international rankings. 

“We follow what’s called child-centred learning – that sounds like a

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Ministry of Education rejects scathing New Zealand Initiative schooling report

Lipson, who has frequently written and talked about perceived flaws in the NCEA qualification system introduced in the early 2000s, said children have too much freedom in class in how they learn.

The report “exposes how parts of the research community confuse evidence with values. It uncovers how curriculum and assessment policy rest on a flawed philosophy,” she says. 

“Though we want [students] to be independent ultimately, the route to independence is not to practise being independent. The route to creativity and independence is to do things like learning your times tables, construct a sentence, grammar, do your spellings. We’ve just got the balance wrong.” 

The New Zealand Initiative wants “mandatory standardised national assessments” and charter schools brought back, the curriculum to focus on “disciplinary knowledge, not competencies”, and funding for “quantitative and generalisable research that rigorously tests properly formulated hypotheses about what might raise attainment”.

The Ministry of Education

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Pa. Senate panel vets bill creating education savings accounts to help students get their schooling ‘back on track’

A proposed grant program that would provide 500,000 Pennsylvania K-12 students with $1,000 to spend on education expenses was vetted by the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee on Monday.

The program is viewed by supporters as a lifeline for students at risk of falling behind in their schooling due to schools’ COVID-19-related switch to remote learning.

But others see it as a foot in the door that will lead to a full-fledged school voucher program. They argue there are better uses for that $500 million that it proposes to spend. Among their suggestions, using it to help school districts with their unanticipated pandemic-related costs and an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue due to the pandemic. Or they recommend putting the money toward extending internet service to rural and underserved communities or to provide resources to serve students and staff’s physical and mental health needs arising from stresses caused by the

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With remote schooling comes a steep learning curve

School’s in, and for more than a week the children in the Bray household have been hunched over laptops, dialed into their digital classrooms. While it is too early to say whether they’re learning anything, it’s been quite an education for me.



a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer: Chloe Pickering, 7, of New Bedford, is in a remote learning class as she sits in the living room, tucked at a desk in the corner.


© John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Chloe Pickering, 7, of New Bedford, is in a remote learning class as she sits in the living room, tucked at a desk in the corner.

I’ve learned that our teachers and school administrators in Brockton are a lot better prepared for online learning than they were back in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic drove our children out of their classrooms. I’ve also learned that for all of their efforts, they’re not quite ready for the challenges of remote schooling. And neither am I.

I’m still sorting through the glitches and limitations of remote-schooling software. Flaky video conferencing, for instance, or the need

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