A Quick Guide to Ministry Policy.
A policy is a general principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve agreed outcomes. Policies will normally explain the “what” and the “why”. Policies have associated procedures that explain the “how”, “where” and “when”.
Policy is used to make decisions about how to address goals, opportunities and problems. Central to the policy is a simple statement that outlines what you actually want as an outcome. It has to have an end point in mind that is both necessary and beneficial. The development of a policy then considers all the ways you could reach that outcome and assesses which way is best. Considerations could include effectiveness, cost, time, required resources etc.
The Ministry of Education has three types of policy:
1. Strategic Policy
Strategic policy is the most general policy of the Ministry. Strategic policies support the implementation of the Education Master Plan. They signal the major intentions and priorities of the Ministry. They are long term commitments. The strategic policies for the Ministry of Education are:
- Governance, Management and Planning
- Equity, Access and Participation
- Quality and Relevance of Learning and Teaching
- Communities,Partnerships and Communication
- Akonoanga Maori
2. Issues Policy
Issues policies describe the actions we will take in order to achieve current priorities and set major directions. Issues policies identify specific targets, outputs and milestones so that we can monitor our progress towards the outcome of the policy. These policies provide a detailed picture of how change will happen and how we will be accountable for our progress. Five year priorities will be supported by relevant issues policies eg the priority for improving numeracy and literacy is supported by policy such as the numeracy and literacy frameworks. The Ministry is also set to review the language policy as part of its response to this priority area.
3. Operational Policy
Operational policies are very specific and have a narrow scope. Schools have their own operational policies that are just for that school. Some Ministry operational policies are specific to a division although most cover the whole Ministry. Operational policies tend to be found in manuals or staff handbooks. They guide us in our day to day responsibilities and include guidelines for decision making and procedures that set out a course of action for specific circumstances. Effective policy Effective policy allows us to :
- keep focused on what is important
- improve decision making, inform judgements and guide actions
- explain why and how things will change
- manage risks
The Ministry aims to have policy that is transparent, well informed and that aligns to the goals not only of education but also of the bigger national goals identified in the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP). A monitoring and evaluation framework and review process will be included in the development of policy to ensure that it is always open to change and improvement. Most importantly, policy will give clear messages and be easily understood. It will be focused on the issues, timely and realistic about its outcome and able to adapt to the shifting reality of education in the Cook Islands.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Planning, Policy and Review Division should you have any questions about educational policy.