In many school systems, the Ministry is responsible for all of the system-level functions. Some of the best school systems have multiple bodies responsible for education at a national level. This can help raise performance in four ways:
1. Increases accountability
Creating an independent government body to oversee and review the performance of institutions can improve the accountability of the entire system. For example, New Zealand's Education Review Office “evaluates and reports on the education and care of children and young people in early childhood services and schools”. This creates a tension between those responsible for improving education and those responsible for judging whether it has improved, which can drive up performance. Academic studies find this effect leads to significant improvements over time.
2. Increases focus
Some top priorities of the education system are so crucial and substantial that it is possible to improve the whole system by shifting that area into its own organisation. This allows both the dedicated governing body and the central governing body to focus resources and attention on their respective roles. As a result, both organisations perform better and the system becomes more efficient. One example is Singapore's National Institute of Education (NIE) who has “played a key and pivotal role in shaping and developing Singapore’s teaching profession and landscape through evidence-informed, practice-focused and values-based programmes and initiatives”.
3. Removes distractors
Sometimes controversial subjects, which are not top priorities, can take up a large portion of resources. For instance, some of the most contentious issues around curriculum can use up a lot of Ministerial time. Creating independent bodies to decide these issues, and placing them outside the ministry, can make it possible to deal with these subjects more efficiently and free up resources for core functions.
4. Increases flexibility
Central education governance can occur under a public sector framework which is sometimes rigid and limiting. Splitting central governance into other organisations with greater organizational freedom can help improve implementation.