by Catherine Delahunty
As New Zealand starts experiencing a wave of educational reforms, real debate about what actually works for schools is crucial.
On Thursday morning I am hosting an education forum at Parliament with special guest Pasi Sahlberg from Finland and Associate Professor Graeme Aitken of Auckland University. My co-host is fellow Education Select Committee member Scott Simpson.
This forum is an opportunity to hear from two leading educationalists.
Pasi has been touring, and talking about Finland’s strategy, which has lead to sustained international success in education.
They’ve achieved that by attracting the best people into education and building school systems based on the pedagogy of quality education for all. This means teaching has high status and remedial support in subjects is available to every student as a norm.
Pasi argues that Finland has succeeded with many migrant cultures in their city schools by maintaining a focus on equity and a consistent Government commitment to eradicating child poverty. There, every student gets a free lunch!
Pasi has named the standardised testing, competitive and privatisation models that are infecting the world GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) and describes how the Finns have succeeded by building a consensus around the priority education has and the model that’s best to deliver it.
Unlike KIPP and other Charter school models, the Finns achieve high academic results in much shorter school hours, with a focus on play and creativity.
I am looking forward to hearing from him and from Graeme Aitken because our own educationalists also need to be heard.
Educational debate is vital and key tests for educational ideas right now have to include – do they strengthen the identity and confidence of all learners especially tangata whenua and Pasifika students? And will they help Christchurch school children regain their sense of stability and love of learning?