District Stewards, Rather Than District Leaders?

“If a key challenge facing New Zealand’s education system is the lack of trust between ‘the Ministry’ and ‘the Sector’, then rebuilding trust is paramount. No single initiative or programme can do this of course, and progress will be measured over years, not months. But after spending seven months asking educators what support they most wanted from the Ministry, the most common response was to be understood and supported. As one principal put it, “It’d be nice to have someone from the Ministry ask the questions you’re asking, and then serve as a resource to connect us with others who can help”. . . .

“Toward that end, I propose the Ministry create new Sector Stewardships . . . [to] build a bridge between policy and practice.  . . .


“Both schools and Stewards would understand that the only deliverable item in the programme would be this: Stewards should return to their Ministry offices with exactly one issue or question that they observed the school grappling with. Stewards would then endeavour to help the school think through the issue, and perhaps connect educators from their host schools to Ministry resources that might help the educators in some way. This would be done in collaborative fashion with the aim of building a human relationship between the Ministry and the sector, one school and one employee at a time.”

–Benjamin Riley, “Science, Data and Decisions in New Zealand’s Education System

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