The development and efficiency of New Zealand's education boards : a study in the changing nature of control : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Geography at Massey University
The form of the administration of New Zealand's education system, has in part, been the outcome of a constant struggle between local and central authorities for the right of ultimate control of the school system. The movement of the key responsibilities in the development of education administration is reviewed and reasons are suggested for these changes. The shifts in responsibility are also viewed in conjunction with the various structural changes to the size and number of education districts since the formation of the Provincial Governments in the 1850's. The research draws extensively from the geographical techniques that assess the spatial effectiveness of administrative systems. These are adapted to measure the varying spatial effectiveness of systems belonging to four time-periods; so that the complete development of education administration can be monitored. The varying spatial arrangements of schools, education districts and administrative centres shows increasing spatial effectiveness up until the present system. Structural changes in the number and size of education districts can only partly explain the process of decentralisation or centralisation of authority. While sub-division of administrative units means some access for schools and parents to the processes of administration it does not necessarily mean that the new administration will have more authority. Together with the structural changes in administration, a study of the movement in the "loci of decision-making" must be undertaken. A 'Centrality Index' technique is employed to access the changing location for the responsibility of 6 key decisions that affect education administration. Using this technique, conclusions are made, wherein the system of education administration is seen as centralising up until 1947, after which a process of decentralisation evolves. Spatially, it seems that the smaller education districts would ensure more contact for schools with their administrative centre, therefore the present policy of structural decentralisation and the sub-division of existing education districts might allow more effective administration. Decentralisation of decision-making also guaranteed that more decisions were being made at the local level. Finally, these assessments are matched against the economics of operating administrative districts. The principal conclusion in this section of the study is that the larger districts are relatively less expensive to operate and that the optimum size for an education district is approximately 130,000 pupils. The conflicting conclusions concerning the economic and spatial efficiency of education boards highlights the complexity in assessing total administrative efficiency or trying to gauge an effective optimum size for an administrative unit.