Abolition of ‘School Zones’ will enable parents and students to opt for the educational institution of their choice, an academic has said.
Wellington based Education Forum Chairman Byron Bentley said New Zealanders should have the right to choose where their children studied and determine the institution that best suited their needs.
He quoted an OECD Study, which said that while New Zealand’s top-ranking students performed well compared to other countries, they left behind a long trail of underachievers.
The Study, known as the “Programme for International Student Assessment,’ compared the performance of 15-year-olds in 65 countries and suggests ways of improving the education system and improve student performance.
The triennial Survey, released last year, compared the performance of 475,000 students in New Zealand (15 year-olds) and recorded their achievements in reading literacy, Mathematics and Science as ‘high.’
But the number of underachievers were disproportionately large, it said.
Mr Bentley, who is the Principal of the East Auckland based Macleans College, said the Report underscored the need for flexibility and choice for parents to get students into schools and styles of learning.
“Such a system will enable under-achieving students to attend schools which accommodate their learning styles,” he said.
Mr Bentley said abolition of ‘School Zones’ will help children from low-income families to enrol in institutions which offered diversity in education.
“But more than no zoning, what is really needed is a neutral funding system where the funding follows the child. This would truly allow parents to enrol their children at the school of their choice,” he said.
He attributed the success of the Early Childhood and Tertiary Education Sectors to neutral funding, which provided better access to quality education.
“Schools should also be given greater autonomy, enabling them to improve the academic results for low-achievers.
“With greater freedom and more accountability, schools will see marked improvement in their performance,” he said.