We see the Tomorrow’s Schools review as a real opportunity to reorient the system and change the way we ‘do school’ in New Zealand. We believe that every school and kura should be supported to be the best it can be, making the most of what is locally available, embedded in a strong community base, but also making the most of a wider network of expertise, skills, and resources in the schooling system.
A change from Tomorrow's Schools is long overdue as there is much in the present system that has been a barrier for online flexible learning and schools collaboration. We are advocating for changes that enable learning that is flexible, open and accessible for all learners across a networked schools system.
We acknowledge the work of the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce and the aspirational goals of equity and opportunity they set out for all learners in Aotearoa New Zealand, but we have concerns about the lack of a future focused vision for flexible and online learning and the importance of the rural education sector in future schooling scenarios.
Our reading of the “Our Schooling Futures” report and recent conversations with members of the taskforce lead us to believe that there is a poor understanding of what collaborative online learning looks like in New Zealand schools and how it is operationalised by VLN communities.
With a limited understanding of the current role of VLN communities of schools then it is difficult to envision what their future role may be post Tomorrow’s Schools.
The Taskforce has missed the importance of an education conversation about online learning in relation to the repeal of CoOLs legislation, this affects the future sustainability of VLN communities;
VLN communities are being overlooked by the Taskforce as they are not mainstream education institutions. Instead the taskforce focuses on how established education institutions such as Te Kura can be reoriented with a new model.
Not enough emphasis is given on how the education system will be reorientated around the learner, instead schools and educational agencies are the main focus.
Small rural schools are being viewed through a deficit perspective and targeted for potential mergers and closures.
We recommend that the expertise of the VLN communities be fully utilised to support schools and communities, design community-wide flexible curriculum, assessment and timetable offerings for schools and grow capacity in online and flexible learning at regional level and at national level with Education Hubs and the Ministry of Education.
We recommend that the Taskforce change their deficit thinking about small schools and remove Recommendation 27 from their proposal.
Our full submission and recommendations are attached
You can read our opinion pieces here:
Future Schooling, Communities of Online Learning and Rural Education in FLANZ (Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand)
Taskforce vague on whether VLN has a part to play in Education Central