New Zealand has the most autonomous school system in the OECD
The New Zealand system is highly devolved and based on decision-making at the school level, with individual boards of trustees as the lynchpin; hiring and firing decisions are also made at school level.
Each school has to submit a charter for approval by the Ministry of Education. The charter sets out the school's objectives and targets for the year, demonstrating how it will meet the learning needs of its students and the special character of its community.
Each school is governed by a board of trustees. Trustees are elected by the parent community, staff members and, in the case of schools with students above Year 9, the students. The board is the employer of all staff in the school, is responsible for setting the school's strategic direction, and for providing a safe environment and quality education for all its students. Boards are also responsible for overseeing the management of personnel, curriculum, property, finance and administration.
Where parents believe schools are not responding to local needs, they have the right to establish their own school - as long as there are at least 21 students to be enrolled every year.
New Zealand schools are accountable to their local communities for providing a high quality education for their children. We have a wide range of state-funded (integrated) faith and philosophy centred schools including Christian, Muslim, Steiner and Montessori.
Successful education change for positive student outcomes requires evidence based decision making
The decision to experiment with charter schools in New Zealand stands in complete contrast to the way educational change is managed in countries that are the most successful globally. Successful education systems such as those in Finland, Singapore and Ontario are characterised by evidence-based decisions made through collaborative and consultative processes and implemented in a managed way.