School Education – New Zealand

Posted on April 19, 2008  /  1 Comments

This post is part of a series by the Education Forum on how school education is delivered in other parts of the world.

From Article by Bruce Sheerin, Ministry of Education, New Zealand


The government of New Zealand delegates property expenditure decisions to each individual school. Such a decentralised environment creates a challenge for school boards and principals to obtain advice on the complex issues around designing schools. To inform schools, the Ministry of Education provides numerous publications related to design and selected best practice samples via its website.


Local decision making

New Zealand schools have been responsible for their own maintenance since 1989 and for all their school property decisions since 2000. Each school’s board of trustees (largely made up of elected parent representatives) is funded via a five-year budget to carry out its own maintenance, additions and refurbishments. The belief is that those who are closest to where education takes place are best placed to create the optimum environments for their students and teachers. When a new school is to be built, the Ministry of Education sets up an establishment board of trustees to work with a designer, a project manager and a construction company. They ensure that the new school meets the needs of the curriculum, quality teaching and the community. The ministry does not determine the shape or form of the school design other than to assure that there are sufficient numbers of teaching rooms and that the project falls within the budget. Informing schools Publications The ministry offers a series of publications to guide schools in their decision making on interior design, acoustics, heating and insulation, lighting, ventilation, and air quality. Much of this material is based on research undertaken by the Building Research Association of New Zealand Ltd. and on surveys of school trustees, principals, teachers and students about their expectations for top quality teaching and learning environments2 ( Designing Quality Learning Spaces is a detailed and highly graphic publication targeted to board members, principals and teachers. It offers them a better understanding of the important factors in school design and helps them ensure their designers deliver high quality environments. The document assists school leaders in making informed decisions, based on current research, in order to provide their teachers and students with learning environments that are comfortable, healthy, and designed for the best possible teaching and learning. The publication is set out on the website as five separate PDF files for easy downloading (




New Zealand: Modernising Schools in a Decentralised Environment

ISSN 1609-7548

New Zealand: Modernising Schools in a Decentralised Environment

PEB Exchange 2008/2

© OECD 2008


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