Response to ERO review

  • Brian Donnelly
Associate Minister of Education

The Government's review of the education external evaluation services should have a positive influence on the early childhood and school sectors, according to the Minister responsible for the Education Review Office Brian Donnelly.

The review, a commitment made in the coalition agreement, was released today by Mr. Donnelly.

"I want to thank the review panel (Hon. Margaret Austin, Apryll Parata-Blane and Professor Wayne Edwards) for their useful and informative report," Mr. Donnelly said.

"The Government is pleased that the Panel reports wide support for the ERO's role as the external evaluator of New Zealand's pre-tertiary education services."

"The concept of ERO playing the role of a 'critical friend' to schools, as espoused by the Panel, is one I support."

Mr. Donnelly said that the Government has decided to immediately accept almost half of the 54 recommendations made by the Panel and is seriously considering the remainder.

"Many recommendations are now being implemented. For instance, self-review is a significant factor in improving performance in schools (no. 35). ERO's new Accountability Reviews will use self-review information provided by the school or centre in addition to ERO's own evaluation of education effectiveness and outcomes (nos. 7 & 8)."

The intended frequency of reviews will continue, with schools and centres being reviewed on a three to four year cycle (no. 14).

Following the recommendations in the report, ERO will implement and publicise clearer dispute resolution procedures for school boards and centre management wishing to raise concerns about statements in ERO reports (nos. 17-20).

"We have also accepted a number of recommendations about the content of the reports. For instance, in each report ERO will include a page for parents, which the school can send to its families (no. 22)."

"I endorse the Panel's recommendations that the policy of releasing the results of reviews to the schools, centres and the media continue (no. 24). As ERO is a Government agency, its reports come under the requirements of the Official Information Act."

The report recommends that ERO include sources of advice and guidance (no. 27) in its school or centre reports. ERO is investigating how it could do this, given the potential cost of such a service and the need to ensure that all advice is of best quality.

One of the findings of the Panel was the degree of misunderstanding by people in schools and centres of the role and function of ERO. The Office will publish information early next year to rectify this situation. It will publish information for schools and centres on Accountability Reviews (no. 9) and will implement a communications strategy to advise schools and centers about the criteria against which they will be reviewed (no. 10).

Mr. Donnelly said the report also raises issues that will affect Government policy and both the Ministry of Education's and ERO's activities.

"For instance, other recommendations, such as those relating to strategic planning by schools (no. 32) and giving ERO the power to enter school hostels (no. 44), have wider implications, including school workload, government policy, legislation and funding. Ministers will need to give them further consideration before we can make decisions on them."

"This report is a very constructive document, which provides directions for government for the improvement of our education system," Mr. Donnelly said.