This national report focuses on the relevance and usefulness of governance training provided for boards of trustees and whānau in kura, and the extent to which this training has contributed to improvements in the quality of governance. In order to understand the context for kura governance, the report also provides an overview of effective governance practices identified generally throughout the schooling sector.
In the 2007 School Governance: An Overview report, ERO identified common features of schools that were well governed. In those schools:
- trustees were committed to improving student learning and achievement
- analysed student achievement information was used well to set targets, underpin decision-making and guide professional development for staff
- strategic and annual planning was focused on improving student achievement
- the principal played a key role in working with trustees and provided strong leadership for the board, staff and students.
ERO has identified school governance as one of six dimensions of good practice that have a significant impact on student learning: engagement, progress and achievement. In schools with effective governance practices, ERO identified common features of boards of trustees that included:
- having a focus on improving the achievement and success of all students
- providing direction and coherence across school policy and decision making
- using comprehensive strategic planning and robust self review
- aligning policies and practices to the school’s vision and strategic direction
- using data and analysis to make decisions about priorities including resource allocation, programme implementation and evaluation, and teachers’ professional development.
Why focus on governance training in kura?
In its 2008 report: The Quality of Teaching in Kura, ERO found that 21 percent of successful boards and whānau readily accessed training to support them in their various governance roles. Although that evaluation did not mention the proportion of board and whānau members undertaking training, the evidence suggested that trustees in the poorer performing kura found the training offered did not meet their needs or was not effective in developing their governance capabilities. In some kura, trustees and whānau members undertook no training. These findings indicated a need to evaluate the relevance and accessibility of training to support trustees and whānau members.
Although variations are evident, the most typical kura governance structures identified in ERO’s individual education review reports are kura that operate with either:
- the whānau as the primary governance and decision-making body, with nominated members of the whānau and/or elected trustees acting within the parameters defined by the whānau, or
- an elected board of trustees as the primary governance and decision-making body, with processes in place to consult whānau and the community.
To reflect these governance variations, in this report the term ‘board and whānau’ is used to refer to the governing body as it applies to each kura context and as an acknowledgement of the roles of whānau and board in the governance of kura.
In late 2008 ERO consulted Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa to discuss potential topics for national evaluation reports. Following this, ERO decided it would be useful to focus on governance training for boards and whānau in Māori-medium kura.
Principles for effective governance
In 2010 the Ministry of Education published the resource: Effective Governance: Working in Partnership, which outlines the purpose, principles and practices of effective governance. It details how boards:
- meet the needs of key stakeholders
- govern on behalf of all stakeholders
- decide how they will govern
- have ‘designing the future’ as their main responsibility
- are hands-off, and mainly make policy decisions
- make collective decisions and speak with one voice
- monitor performance by reference to policy
- work with the principal to lead together.
While these principles refer to the role and expectations of boards in schools, the term ‘board’ can be easily interchanged with the term ‘whānau’ in kura. While most of these principles are observed in action in kura, there are variations in how these might be conceptualised and applied to the approach used in kura. This is evident in the way kura may use processes that uphold and validate Māori ways of operating, for example being guided by Māori philosophy and values.