Part 7: Our recent work and ongoing work in the education sector

Education sector: Results of the 2011 audits.

In this Part, we provide summaries of our recent reports and ongoing areas of work in the education sector. Copies of our education-related reports are available on our website (

Fraud survey

New Zealand generally has a "clean" image when it comes to fraud. We consistently rank highly in international and domestic surveys that measure public trust in government and the effectiveness of systems and processes that deal with fraud and corruption. We attribute the general absence of systemic large-scale corruption in the private and public sectors to the integrity of our standards and controls, underpinned by strong and shared common values, within a small and cohesive society.

However, we cannot be complacent if we are to keep our good record of keeping fraud at bay. It is particularly important to be vigilant in the current global economic climate, because there is an increased risk of fraud when people struggle to make ends meet.

In June 2012, we published a report on a survey we commissioned of fraud awareness, prevention, and detection aimed to provide better insight into fraud in the public sector.37 The results of the survey confirm a strong commitment within the public sector to protecting public resources.

Fraud survey results for tertiary education institutions

According to our survey respondents, TEIs:

  • have fraud policies, which they communicate regularly;
  • have protected disclosure policies;
  • review their fraud policies regularly, and as part of every fraud investigation; and
  • have designated people responsible for fraud risks.

Thirty-seven percent of the respondents were aware of at least one incident of fraud or corruption in their TEI within the last two years.

The most frequent types of fraud within TEIs were:

  • theft of cash (38%);
  • fraudulent expense claims (16%); and
  • falsifying invoices (11%).

Our report on the fraud survey results for TEIs is on our website.38

Fraud survey results for schools

Respondents from schools told us that their schools had good anti-fraud frameworks, with policies, a code of conduct, high levels of confidence in the school leaders' awareness of their role and responsibilities, proactive approaches to fraud, and pre-employment checks. School cultures are receptive to staff raising concerns, and expense claims and credit card expenses are monitored.

Eight percent of the respondents were aware of at least one incident of fraud or corruption in their school within the last two years. This was one of the lowest rates in the public sector.

Most of the fraud incidents in schools (75%) were committed by one internal person acting alone, typically at an operational staff level.

The most frequent types of fraud within schools were:

  • theft of property, plant, and equipment or inventory (25% combined);
  • theft of cash (19%); and
  • fraudulent expense claims (19%).

Our report on the fraud survey results for schools is on our website.39

Lessons for the education sector

One of our messages from this work is the need for education providers to always report suspected or detected fraud to their auditor. All staff in the public sector need to recognise that "doing the right thing" does not mean keeping quiet about suspected or detected fraud in an effort to be fair to the person or people suspected of fraud.

"Doing the right thing" means speaking up, and that includes telling the appointed auditor about each and every suspected or detected fraud. We are not sure that this is always happening and intend to monitor the extent of reporting to our auditors. A suspected or detected fraud is a sign that controls are working and that the environment is supportive of employees voicing their concerns.

Using the information that auditors receive from public entities, we will continue to regularly update and share information with the sector about fraud incidents. From this, it will be possible for people to see which sorts of controls or procedures are working to identify potential fraud in their workplaces or similar workplaces. We intend that the cumulative effect of this co-operation and sharing will be stronger controls and a still cleaner New Zealand public sector.

School governance

We had intended to carry out a performance audit in 2012 on the role of school boards of trustees in raising student achievement through effective strategic planning and review, including data use, prioritisation, and resource allocation. However, a reprioritisation of our work programme has meant that we were not able to progress this review.

Our work on Māori education (see below) will consider some aspects of school governance, and we note the new policy work and analysis that is under way in this area. We will continue to monitor developments in school governance.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority: Assuring the consistency and quality of internal assessment for NCEA

In May 2012, we published a report that set out the results of an audit of one aspect of performance by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). We examined the work that NZQA does to ensure that the internally assessed portion of NCEA qualifications is consistently administered throughout the country and of a high quality.

The report noted both areas of success and areas for improvement. We reported that:

  • NZQA was aware that it needed to continue to work with the Ministry to improve the timeliness of exemplars for teachers, and continue to streamline its communications with teachers;
  • NZQA needed to provide more consistency in the feedback it gave teachers through moderation reports, and work with teachers on the timeliness of its appeals process and feedback on particular examples of students' work;
  • students, their parents and caregivers, employers, and TEIs can be confident that NZQA has effective systems to support the consistency and quality of internal assessment for NCEA; and
  • NZQA is continually enhancing its processes and practices, which is helping schools to better carry out internal assessment.

Institutional arrangements for training, registering, and appraising teachers

In June 2012, we published a paper that described how public entities, and people in certain roles, influence the quality of teachers through initial teacher training, teacher registration, and monitoring teachers' performance. The paper was intended to inform Parliament and the public at a time when there was significant interest in the quality of teachers, given that a Ministerial Inquiry and a Ministerial Review were looking at aspects of how teacher quality is managed.

The paper was deliberately descriptive of the highly complex environment in which discussions about the quality of teaching take place. We reached the view that improving teacher quality within this system requires the system as a whole to work well. The significantly interdependent work of the public entities and other roles that support the quality of teachers collectively influence the quality of teachers.

Performance audits on child obesity

We will be carrying out two performance audits between now and mid-2014, examining the question:

Is the public service effectively preventing and reducing obesity to improve children's health now and into the future?

We started the first audit in late October 2012 and will examine the following sub-questions:

Do the Ministries of Health and Education and Sport New Zealand understand the extent of child obesity? Are they effectively planning for the delivery of services to prevent and reduce its prevalence and effects, taking into account what works for children and their families/caregivers?

The second audit will examine the sub-question:

Are interventions delivered by these public entities effectively preventing and reducing the prevalence and effects of child obesity now and for the future?

The focus of the second audit will be to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions. We will do this by examining the delivery of services from public entities through to end users, testing systems, processes, and relationships.

We expect to present the report on our first audit to the House of Representatives by the end of June 2013. The expected publication date for our report on the second audit is the end of June 2014.

Education for Māori: Context for our proposed audit work until 2017

In August 2012, we published a report that described the history of education policy and developments for Māori, set out some leading research and statistics, and described the role of the various public entities involved in education. The report set out the work we intend to do during the next five years on how the education system serves Māori.

Improving the education system to support Māori students to achieve their full potential is a complex challenge. During our scoping work for this report, we decided on some questions that we considered would make this challenge more manageable. Those questions helped us prepare a framework to guide our future Māori education audit activity under one overarching question:

How well does the education system currently support Māori students to achieve their full potential and contribute to the future prosperity of New Zealand?

Our August 2012 report encouraged people to think about our list of other possible audits in education for Māori and share their thoughts with us.

For 2012/13, the audit focus will be:

Ka Hikitia is the educational strategy for supporting young Māori to thrive academically, socially, and culturally for New Zealand's future: Are there proper processes and practices in schools and other educational agencies to support that strategy?

Our audit team is currently carrying out fieldwork for this audit and will consider evidence from education sector stakeholders, including students, whānau, iwi, and community groups. The team will also draw on the advice of a respected group of Māori education advisors. We expect that our report on this audit will be presented to the House of Representatives in the first half of 2013.

37: Fraud awareness, prevention, and detection in the public sector.

38: See

39: See

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