I had a meeting tonight at the Review office. We have an ERO review at the end of term (much like an OFSTED review) and this was the preliminary discussion with schools on what to expect and how the Review office has adapted and changed over the last few years. Nothing innocuous about that. But, then one little line was uttered that raised a collective eyebrow, and automatically the audience went from passive listeners to engaged and interested.
"This may be the last time ERO will review individual schools, so make the most of it" (or words to that effect)
At the time it was said, I confess I was away in my own little world, crossing off the many lists that live in my head, and wondering what boxes I still had to tick. However, that statement got my instant attention. I had questions - a lot of questions. I applied some self control (hard to believe I know), and I only asked two.
My first question:
Was this change in how schools might be reviewed related to IES, EDUCANZ, and the Governance review (check out the preferred option on this link to find out more)?
EROs response was 'it appeared so'. (or words to that effect)
My second question:
What was the likely timeframe, 18 months? Two Years?
EROs response, 'I believe sooner than that' (again, words to that effect)
As a result of this little bombshell, I am full of curious wondering.
- Why has ERO been reinventing itself in terms of mission statements and 'whats important' if they are about to be phased out from reviewing individual schools?
- If not individual schools, what does it look like?
- Given the EDUCANZ link, does that mean it is less about school capability and capacity and more about teacher competency? I wonder what that would look like and who would be responsible?
- Who else knows? Does NZPF, NZEI, PPTA, STA etc (name your acronym really) know and if so, when were they going to let the membership know?
- When were we, the stakeholders, going to be consulted? This is a fundamental change to how things operate and I would have thought schools, parents, BOTs and anyone with any interest in school capacity and capability would want to know and have a say.
- What might it look like, this new accountability structure (because really, thats what it is) if an individual school is no longer reviewed? Does it mean a cluster is reviewed, and does the 'super principal' do the reviewing? (can't see any problem with that said the sceptic)
- If it is linked to the Governance review and that results in a super board, how might this look if it is cluster based, and the cluster is run by a 'super principal' and a 'super board' (perhaps this is a step too far in my imagination, perhaps not)
- Finally I wonder when the powers that be will let us know officially?
Questions and wonderings, questions and wonderings. The little hamster on my wheel is running flat tack.
I do need to clarify where I stand. I think ERO has a place to play as the independent body that keeps the checks and balances on our schools in place. Sometimes, ERO has the capacity to scare me half to death, but for the most part, I am usually excited to share our journey and get some insight into how we are going and where we are heading. It is the ultimate school review process. Tonights news seems, on the face of it, like a fundamental shake up of how we do things and as such, leaves me a little uneasy about the unknown.
Here is hoping we get some clarification on this soon. (Or that little hamsters going to have a conniption)
NB I have said 'words to that effect' not because I have a terrible memory (which is probably partially true in reality) but because I don't want to misquote someone - by 'words to that effect' I do mean either exactly that or pretty darn close.