A dictionary of education terms and definitions, brought to you by the letters R E F O R and M


school reformFree to all TDB readers, please enjoy your very own cut-out-and-keep handy primer of terms that I predict you will need to know over the next three years…

Achievement Gap (noun)

  • Synonym for wealth gap.

ACT (abstract noun)

  • Intangible. Reported to exist in one remote part of Auckland. Largely a figment of the imagination, with only 0.7% of people polled believing they exist, it is used to decide the future of the New Zealand education system.

Assessment (noun)

  • Something politicians pretend to have just invented.  (See also National Standards)

Attrition (noun)

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  • A reduction in the number of students that occurs when students leave and are not replaced.  (See also Charter Schools)

Charter School (noun, pl)

  • The cure for poverty, drugs, unemployment, cancer and war.    This miracle is achieved by giving private companies money to run schools at a far higher cost than state schools. Worked well overseas where it increased wages for select individuals and raised notable profits for charter chains.  It has also led to a meteoric rise in the number of people learning the meaning of the words ‘attrition’ and ‘corporate fraud’.  Sadly it has not led to any such jump in student achievement.

Consultation (noun)

  • The action or process of saying you will formally consult relevant people or bodies.  Government consultation usually involves earplugs.  (See also Select Committee)

EDUCANZ (noun)

  • A castration device used on teachers to render them impotent.

GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) (noun)

  • A rampant illness that has infected many countries worldwide.  Symptoms include introducing standardisation, test-based accountability, league tables, performance pay, and privatisation.  Can prove seriously debilitating to students, teachers, parents and education systems.  There is only one known antidote, called ‘group resistance’.

National Standards (noun, pl.)

  • Fuzzy benchmarks that allow students, schools and teachers to be judged as failing, okay or adequate depending on how near the country is to an election.

School (noun)

  • (1) an institution for educating students.  (2) a business for raising money.  (3) a dispensable entity that may be closed after an earthquake

Select Committee (noun)

  • A  group appointed to pretend to investigate and report on a particular matter for Government.  The Committee’s main job is to make it seem that they will take into consideration the views of the general public whilst studiously avoiding actually incorporating any of those views in the final (pre-ordained) plan.

Students (noun, pl.)

  • (1) denoting someone who is studying in order to pass a test or exam so that teachers can be judged (see also Value Added Measures)  (2) A unit for raising profits for businesses. (See also Charter Schools and Venture capitalists)

Teacher (noun)

  • A person whose occupation is undervalued by government.

Transparency (noun)

  • The act of responding to Freedom of Information Act requests in hours or days to certain individuals.  Requests from others enter a holding pattern similar to that above Wellington airport when there’s a Southerly and may or may not be dealt with in due course.

Value Added Measures (VAM) (noun)

  • The use of complex mathematics to manipulate education data in order to determine teachers’ pay.  Unreliable and ineffective, it can at times be fatal.  Best avoided.

Venture Capitalists (VCs) (noun, pl.)

  • A group that invests in enterprises in search of financial profit.  VCs’ businesses may fail, in which case clients will be moved to another facility (possible state run) as the investors take their money and run.  (for Clients, see also Students) (for Facility and Business, see also School)

Note – this dictionary is best used when reading certain newspapers, watching Parliamentary Question Time, and engaging with the Education Minister.


  1. Ha . Brilliant .
    I particularly liked ” There is only one known antidote, called ‘group resistance’. ”

    Clearly , voting is a waste of virtually everything . We Kiwis are now leaderless and in free fall .

    So , that means we people of the Light must fight . On .

    The election was a farce . A scam . So I have an idea on how to deal with that . Ignore it for the irrelevance it was . Let them think they may have won something . Strategically , the best thing we can hope is if they think they have won .

    You mention ‘ group resistance ‘ .

    I see . So , what you need then is a group ?

    We could name it The United Aotearoa / NZ Anti Neo-Liberal Resistance Party .
    Or T.U.A.N.Z.A.N.L.R.P. Or Tuanzanlrp . I like it ! Sounds Prussian and we know how those guys love a stoush .

    My advice based on not much would be that for interested parties to resist the Neo Liberal creeps ; we have to start at the very bottom and work up again . There needs to be a New Political Movement . An entirely new thing . If ACT can sprout , like a fungus , from the Labour Party then we should look at how they did that and sprout out ourselves .

    Is a million voters , who couldn’t be arsed voting for that last sad selection of various greedy , useless , motley swine not a group ?

    Seriously , why not ?

    The alternatives are just too horrible to countenance .

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