New Zealand: an education system founded on teachers

In 2007, New Zealand completely transformed its education system. Schools and teachers are fully trusted. However, if confidence rhymes with flexibility, it also rhymes with rigor! (Last of 3 parts)

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In 2007, New Zealand completely transformed its education system. Schools and teachers are fully trusted. However, if confidence rhymes with flexibility, it also rhymes with rigor! (Last of 3 parts)

A teacher by the name of Richard wells came to present his country's education system to the Boston iPad Summit, which took place from November 13 to 15. According to him, this new system is a dream for all teachers who want to prepare their students for the reality of the current century. Let's take a closer look!

(Continued from yesterday ...)

In New Zealand, there is complete trust in schools and teachers. However, if confidence rhymes with flexibility, it also rhymes with rigor!

Each of the more than 2,500 schools in the country independently builds its school curriculum, according to its reality and 8 principles established by government (high expectations, basics of Treaty of Waitangi, cultural diversity, inclusion, learning to learn, community engagement, coherence and future directions). As a result, the specific curriculum of a school in a rural environment is therefore different from that of a school in an urban environment. In addition, the community (teachers, parents, students) is generally strongly involved.


Teachers: Active Models of Change

New Zealand's more than 53,000 teachers train their students with a vision of the 21e century, but first and foremost they must position themselves as active models of this change.

In the first place, they are all part of the Teacher Council, a professional and regulatory government body. This body is responsible in particular for evaluating teachers every 3 years.

They are assessed on their ability to collaborate, share and reflect, not on their performance, as is the case in the United States. In this context, they must present a professional development plan and a portfolio (blog, video, etc.). Professional development is highly encouraged and teachers are even given time off to organize their ideas after returning from a conference or training. In addition, to perpetuate sharing, schools are moving towards a National Creative Commons Agreement.

For technological integration, teachers are not left to fend for themselves. They use SAMR theoretical model and have a coach for each step of the model. Initially, the teacher who begins the integration of ICT works the substitution (stage 1) with his coach stage 1. When he feels ready to move on to the second level, that of augmentation, he calls on a coach different, and so on.


Learning assessment: simple and concrete

The evaluation of student learning in New Zealand is intended to be simple, concrete and clearly explained. It is centered on performance objectives spread over 8 levels, spread over 13 years of schooling, for each of the 8 fields of learning.

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Education


Assessment is based on levels of reflection, not content. For example, in science level 3, the student must, among other things, be able to do an investigation to understand how the heat of the Sun, the Earth and human activities is distributed on the planet by the geosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. To be able to carry out this task, the pupil must have acquired the national standards and be able to organize his thought to carry out this investigation. Students are not necessarily classified by age group, but by learning level. For example, a gifted child might work with older students if they reached a higher level in math faster.

The appropriation and evaluation of a level can be spread over several years. In fact, there is no ministerial review. It is the teachers who design the assessments for each level of reflection, for each field of learning. They are therefore very varied and individualized! A one-month project can serve as a final evaluation and the student's output could be writing a text, making a short film, or even hosting a conference in front of the parents. In fact, not all students are assessed at the same time, or in the same way. They even participate in determining the form that their evaluation will take. There is no encrypted note. For a particular level, a student may be awarded the grade not achieved, achieved, merit or Excellency.

What about the quality and thoroughness in all of this? All level assessments created by teachers are submitted to a group of educators whose mandate is to validate their quality. Teachers are therefore not left to their own devices: this grouping serves as a guide and moderator.


In conclusion, New Zealand's education system trusts its teachers and gives them a great deal of power and flexibility. In return, they are evaluated and must demonstrate that they are reflective, collaborative and that they share their achievements. The assessments they produce are subject to moderation and then serve as a certification of studies, since the government does not do any standardized tests.

Is this rigor required of teachers in balance with the creative freedom they enjoy? Richard Wells is of the opinion that it is. It will be interesting to see the country's results when the 2013 report is tabled. OECD PISA.


A mini file in 3 parts:
1. Tuesday: New Zealand revolutionizes its education system
2. Wednesday: New Zealand: a simple curriculum, which allows the autonomy of each school
3. Thursday: New Zealand: an education system whose pillars are teachers


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About the Author

Sebastien wart
Director of teaching and educational innovation at Saint-Paul College. A specialist in technological integration, Sébastien was an IT and Web optimization consultant at the FÉEP as well as an educational consultant in technology integration and a teacher at the Collège de Montréal.

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