In many ways New Zealand can be proud of having an education system that positions us amongst the better performing nations in the international educational rankings. However, we know that the significant gap which exists between our top performing students and our lowest performing students (the priority learners) must be urgently addressed. All New Zealand children and young people deserve an education that meets their needs, and it is up to us all to play a part in seeing that this happens.

This report has argued strongly for a greater focus on the ethics of teaching, particularly on the absolute necessity for knowing about learners as individuals who possess interests, strengths, and capabilities, and who are endowed with cultural backgrounds and knowledge that can contribute so richly to the curriculum.

Leaders generally undertake their work well in developing and reviewing the curriculum, in establishing assessment policies and practices, and in promoting aspects of teacher learning. ERO’s challenge to leaders is to now consider how they can promote the deep and individualised learning of teachers that will raise the achievement of students in their classes.

Highlighted in this report are instances where teachers, leaders and trustees have dared to be innovative and creative in their response to “at risk” students. It is gratifying to know that some of our most vulnerable and alienated students have been the beneficiaries of the initiatives these schools and other organisations have put in place. ERO argues that innovation, creativity and responsiveness should be the norm in all schools and for all students.