The Education Review Office (ERO) plays a valuable role as an agency for change in the education system. ERO has a quite specific legislative role – to review and report on the performance of schools and early childhood services. Increasingly, however, ERO regards its institutional reviews and national evaluation reports as levers for system change. ERO’s findings are used by services, schools, the Ministry of Education, and other policy agencies.
Because its reviews focus on both breadth and depth, ERO can respond promptly to changes in education policies and expectations, and is well placed to support the initiatives of the Government. The recently released report from the OECD (on Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes) has helped to highlight the significance of this contribution to the sector. The challenge for ERO is to gain even greater system-level traction for this work.
Recent development of our methodology has placed an emphasis on sustainability of practice through school and service self-evaluation. Accordingly, ERO now promotes a complementary approach to evaluation. School and service self reviews complement ERO’s external review, reinforcing continuous improvement.
A further strength of ERO’s methodology is that it is flexible enough to take into account the individual social, cultural, and educational context of each school or service. This means that ERO review teams can identify areas which are successful, and where development and further support are needed. This enables ERO to focus its work on those learners for whom the school system has not delivered successful outcomes.
National evaluation reports will continue to be closely integrated with individual school and service reviews and the priorities of Government. These reports are significant educational evaluations on issues of national importance. They provide the Government, services, schools, and policy makers with an analysis of specific educational initiatives – with recommendations for future practice. They are read widely and in ERO’s view, are a catalyst for change by helping to strengthen the policy-practice link.
ERO will continue to seek improvement to its own capability through internal review and a programme of transformation. Our aim is to maximise the value for money delivered to Government, the sector, parents and communities. And in this regard, the recent Performance Improvement Framework Review noted that ERO has set an example in the way in which it has recognised the need for transformative change directed at delivering better services for less.
Leadership at all levels and within all units of ERO is essential to sustain this effort and realise the many benefits of a long-term commitment to our children’s future.
Chief Review Officer
Education Review Office