What do we want New Zealand education to look like?

As the agency primarily concerned with raising the status of the teaching profession we would like any future government to address this fundamental question: how do we properly recognise the positive influence our profession has in creating curious, confident and contributing citizens?

Here’s what we think.

The future government must have a future-focused education system. It needs to ask: what do teachers need to be equipped to meet the challenges of the modern world of teaching and learning? It needs to establish a strong education system that supports teachers to do their job not just now but in the medium and long term because our society, and the way we live, is changing at pace. Teachers must be allowed to keep up with this pace. Indeed, teachers need to be part of this change – showing leadership in change and being part of the agenda of change.

Future governments must then seek to strengthen leadership in our profession. A future government needs to recognise the leadership must be profession-led – horizontally and vertically. Our profession must build its own critical mass – a future government will facilitate and enable this process.

We expect the development of a connected, cohesive and adaptive leadership cohort. Communities of Learning are a good starting point. We want any future government to work closely and collaboratively with the respective agencies working in the profession. It’s critical they recognise the agency of organisations such as the Education Council because we are at the coalface – well placed to inform any future government. A future government needs to listen without prejudice to all players in the theatre of education.

We want to see our profession to be perceived as on a par with lawyers, engineers and doctors. We want to see this recognised not just through remuneration; we want future governments to see teaching as a profession not just a vocation.

We want a future government to help the public better understand the societal implications of a valued teaching profession. When we have a profession which is seen as a desirable first career choice, where there is strong competition for teacher training and where we know the best people are entering the profession then society will look at early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools in a different light. They will see our profession as one of the threads that make up a successful and productive society. They will see education not just as a right but as a privilege – and take advantage of that. And that’s good for all of us.

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