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What society asks of our public education system continues to change and intensify. New Zealand First believes it is time to have an Education Hui alongside wider public conversations; robust discussion between all stakeholders across all sectors – early years, early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and trade training, adult and community education - that includes the voice of students, parents and caregivers, support staff, teachers, school leaders and school trustees.

The Education Hui would develop a collaborative 30 year strategic plan for New Zealand education. This plan is timely after 25 years of Tomorrow’s Schools and would set an agreed direction for our nation’s education that is free from changes in governments and ministers. It would include the development of regional educational strategies and enable seamless transitions between and across sectors. In order to make and embed positive change, governments must first listen and then work in partnership with the sector.

New Zealand First recognizes that the intensification of teacher workload during constant and long-lasting periods of education sector change is significant and fast approaching an unsustainable level. The Ministry of Education must address concerns raised within recent New Zealand research regarding teacher morale.

Our national curriculum documents have identified curriculum achievement levels that are progressive and overlapping – children are not expected to achieve at the same level at the same time. Discussion on refocussing data collection, analysis and reporting using these levels would be part of any educational hui.

New Zealand First is strongly opposed to “charter” or “partnership” schools; public funding for these privately owned profit making opportunities would be ended by New Zealand First.

Te Whariki, The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa should all be at the front and in the centre of our education system. Our national curriculum documents provide our teachers and learners with wide success criteria and key competencies that encourage and promote good citizenship. Current government policy has narrowed the definition of success to the detriment of learners.

New Zealand First would abolish National Standards and re-establish professional learning and development support for the quality delivery of our New Zealand Curriculum with monitoring as to children’s progress based on curriculum levels.

We believe that “success for Kiwi kids as Kiwi kids” needs to be identified, agreed and implemented. We, politicians, parents and community leaders, need to return to a high trust model partnering with the people in and around our classrooms, school grounds and campuses who share the responsibility for educating our children.

The often repeated phrase that public schools and our teachers are failing ‘1 in 5 learners’ is simplistic and does not address the real issue of the effect of economic and social conditions outside the school gate. New Zealand First will introduce policies to ensure that every New Zealand kid is supported to be able turn up at school able to learn, and so that our teachers can get on with guiding all children’s learning.

New Zealand First is concerned that the Ministry does not require nor collect data around the numbers of students who schools have identified as being in the top academic band. To simply have a cohort that is ‘Above’ this government’s current literacy and numeracy lines is not good enough if we are committed to raising the achievement of students at both ends of the learning continuum, ie., special needs and gifted & talented.

Our recent work on the Pasifika languages inquiry has reinforced the importance of heritage recognition to student achievement. We will restore funding for Te Kotahitanga as this programme has positive outcomes for Maori learners and for all learners, no matter what their heritage background. We see a greater role for Resource Teachers of Maori within mainstream classrooms throughout the compulsory sector.

While Export Education is a vital part of the New Zealand education system, New Zealand First believes it should be about enriching the education experience of both domestic and international students and not as a cover for under-resourcing.

We support the investment of additional funds to enhance teaching and learning but it cannot be driven by the Minister’s sense of priorities. New Zealand First commits to the $359 million that was announced in Budget 2014 and that this money should be available for professional development, building collaborative arrangements between schools, professional leadership opportunities, etc., but only following genuine consultation with the sector.

The money would be available to deliver on the outcomes of the Education Hui and the feedback from wider public consultation that we would convene within three months of being part of the next government.

EARLY YEARS OF EDUCATION

The importance of the early years of development is recognised by New Zealand First. In particular, New Zealand First affirms the importance of the family for the optimum development of children and will look to increase support for programmes in the early years that involve parents directly in the education of their children.

Community education services such as Playcentre and Te Kohanga Reo, both unique to New Zealand, provide significant support networks and learning for parents and are often a focal point in communities where other local points have been removed, ie., post office, doctor, small school.

New Zealand First acknowledges the work done, the time given and the quality of the relationships within parent-led early childhood centres that strengthen the links between families, neighbourhoods and communities.

New Zealand First will:

  • Give greater focus to the second strategic goal within Nga Huarahi Arataki  to improve the quality of all ECE services. (Also see Early Childhood Education policy).
  • Conduct a funding review of parent-led early childhood education services to realistically fund Playcentre as a quality parent-led service for young children and their families.
  • Support the growth of Playcentre as a quality parent-led early childhood education service. Currently 481 centres with 14,000 children and their families.
  • Review the special needs of Playcentre rural provision for group learning to provide realistic operational support.
  • Fund administration, compliance and structural support staff for Playcentres ($5m per year).
  • Liaise with NZQA to ensure that the pathway for Playcentre qualifications gained by parent teachers can be credited towards the Diploma in Early Childhood Education.
  • Liaise with Playcentre Federation to explore and fund new initiatives to increase participation within targeted communities. ($500,000).
  • Work with Te Kohanga Reo National Trust to develop a supportive and sustainable funding model that future proofs Te Kohanga Reo as an essential stakeholder in our early years and early childhood public education sectors.
  • Liaise with stakeholders to ensure that academic and professional value is assigned to, and inherent within, any Te Kohanga Reo qualification.
  • Explore the option of Te Kohanga Reo funding being re-allocated to the Ministry of Maori Affairs in recognition of its founding principle as a ‘language nest’.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

New Zealand First is committed to inclusive early childhood education (ECE) that is accessible to all within safe, nurturing and stimulating environments. We would urgently and immediately review the funding model for kindergartens as these are the backbone of our public early childhood education system. New Zealand First is most concerned about the loss of access to education providers for our rural and isolated communities.

New Zealand First will:

  • Give greater focus to the second strategic goal within Nga Huarahi Arataki to improve the quality of all ECE services. (Also see Early Years policy).
  • Review the adult to infant (under 2s) staffing ratio in ECE centres as an urgent health and safety matter.
  • Restore the requirement for all early childhood education providers to ensure that the 100 per cent registered teacher staffing ratio is achieved.
  • Support nationwide professional development for Te Whariki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum policy statement and Kei Tua o Te Pae, the best practice assessment resource linked to the four broad principles of Te Whariki - empowerment, holistic development, family & community and relationships.
  • Work with the sector to amend relevant criteria to ensure an increased ability of isolated rural communities to participate in early childhood education, e.g., mobile kindergartens.
  • Support the HIPPY organization in their provision of early childhood education opportunities for 4 and 5 year olds and their families.
  • Establish a fund for research into best practice and innovation in New Zealand early childhood education.

PRIMARY EDUCATION (YEARS 1 TO 8)

New Zealand First believes that we have a quality public education system. New Zealand First acknowledges the importance of principals, teachers, support staff, parents, boards of trustees and the community in the delivery of a full and rich education for our young people.

New Zealand First believes that all students need to be literate and numerate but does not believe that the black and white National Standards imposed on our primary school children are fit for purpose. Our national curriculum documents, the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, have identified curriculum achievement levels that are progressive and overlapping – children are not expected to achieve at the same level at the same time.

New Zealand First is committed to a quality public education sector where the principles, values and key competencies of our New Zealand curriculum documents are at the centre of all teaching and learning.

New Zealand First will:

  • Repeal the 2013 amendments to the Education Act 1989 that allowed the creation of Charter Schools.
  • Abolish National Standards in their current form and work with the sector to establish robust assessment measures for individual students and to identify nationwide goals for primary education.
  • Review the Ministry of Education reporting criteria so the bi-annual collection and analysis of school learning data, linked to agreed nationwide goals and New Zealand Curriculum levels, enables the Ministry of Education to make robust resourcing decisions across the curriculum.
  • Ensure that the education sector has the opportunity to elect its own representatives to sit around the table of the new Teachers Council.
  • Review Section 156 Designated Character Schools in the Education Act 1989.
  • Review Integration Act.
  • Review the implementation of the operations grant with a view to increasing it to address equity challenges and ‘outside of school’ factors that impact on student achievement.
  • Review the criteria for isolation funding eligibility.
  • Review transport funding criteria to ensure it is both equitable and affordable.
  • Strengthen School Entry Assessment tools and practices that teachers and school leaders use to identify those students most at risk in literacy and numeracy.
  • Work with the sector to establish a pilot programme in partnership with the early childhood education sector, initially in a defined area, for the collection and analysis of school entry baseline evidence to target staffing and resourcing to meet need (support or extension) and inform practice.
  • Establish an early intervention staffing component for identified new entrants at risk in literacy and numeracy across all schools with initial priority being one full-time teaching equivalent for every U1 to U3 school ($50m : 992 schools as at December 2013).
  • Work with the sector to develop funding and resourcing models to best meet the needs of all children including digital resourcing for those learners challenged by dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s and autism.
  • Support true choice for parents of special needs students inside our public education system. Where possible, special needs units will be incorporated into mainstream schools.
  • Maintain the commitment to student and parent voices being an integral part of Individual Education Plans for learners.
  • Review the funding model and the quantum budget for Special Education to ensure equity and consistency for all learners and communities.
  • Review the Ongoing Reviewable Resource Scheme (ORRS) with a view to increasing funding to cover the 3 per cent of the school population identified by the Ministry of Education as high needs.
  • Seek to establish tagged funding for student extension and enrichment.
  • Establish nationwide teacher professional development and funding support for high ability and gifted students.
  • Re-establish funding support alongside national professional development for the roll out of the Te Kotahitanga initiative for all schools.
  • Work with Te Ropu Takawaenga Maori o Aotearoa, the national body of Resource Teachers and Advisors of Maori known as NARTAM, and the sector to develop a clear set of national guidelines for Resource Teachers of Maori similar to those for other resource teachers.
  • Review the 1996 Memorandum of Understanding which defined the prime purpose of the Resource Teachers of Maori service specifically around kaiako/teacher support to deliver quality teaching and learning Te Reo Maori in both immersion and English-medium schools Years 1 to 13.
  • Work with the sector to develop national curriculum guidelines and progressions for teaching and learning Te Reo Maori in immersion schools Years 1 to 13.
  • Work with the sector to re-establish curriculum and school support advisors alongside schools’ ‘teaching as inquiry’ practice.
  • Establish a national qualification and ongoing professional learning and development programme for Special Needs Co-Ordinators (SENCOs) with responsibility for full spectrum of special needs learners.
  • Create a nationwide professional development career pathway framework for teacher aides.
  • Create a consistent and required professional development and training programme for Boards of Trustees.
  • Provide professional learning and development opportunities for teachers with fair and equitable access for all schools.  
  • Work alongside the sector to explore the establishment of an independent Leadership and Education Research Centre where principals can access in-service training alongside tertiary qualifications and New Zealand based research can be supported to benefit leadership, teaching and learning.
  • Immediately review the effects of the centralization of truancy contracts on school communities and work with the sector and relevant stakeholders to decentralize and better meet local need.
  • Use the recent property review to identify schools in disposal that would better serve their communities by becoming community assets.

SECONDARY EDUCATION (YEARS 9 TO 13)

New Zealand First believes that we have a quality public education system. New Zealand First acknowledges the importance of principals, teachers, support staff, parents, boards of trustees and the community in the delivery of a full and rich education for our young people.

New Zealand First is concerned that publication of data within league tables does not accurately reflect the quality of teaching and learning within individual schools. New Zealand First is deeply concerned that the 85 per cent NCEA ministerial target risks undermining the credibility of the qualification and puts undue pressure on teachers and schools to achieve an arbitrary target.

There needs to be greater flexibility concerning successful pathways and positive outcomes for students after NCEA Level 1.

Secondary schools can be financially disadvantaged through recently introduced adjustments to operational funding based on quarterly roll returns which affect their ability to maintain the range of academic and cultural classes throughout the school year. New Zealand First will reverse the requirement for quarterly adjustments.

New Zealand First will:

  • Repeal the 2013 amendments to the Education Act 1989 that allowed the creation of Charter Schools.
  • Ensure that school learning data linked to nationwide goals and New Zealand Curriculum levels is collected by the Ministry of Education so schools can access resources to support pathways for identified groups of students in Years 9 and 10 to NCEA Level 1.
  • Support the nationwide use of the ‘HEADSS’ holistic assessment of Year 9 students to identify individual areas of concern and trends within these learners within communities, regions and across the country.
  • Ensure that the education sector has the opportunity to elect its own representatives to sit around the new Teachers Council.
  • Review Section 156 Designated Character Schools in the Education Act 1989.
  • Review Integration Act.
  • Review the implementation of the operations grant with a view to increasing it to address equity challenges and outside of school factors that impact on student achievement.
  • Work in partnership with schools and the Ministry of Social Development to expand the Social Sector Trials (area planning networks) focused on youth well-being with a view to a nationwide roll-out.
  • Work with the sector to develop funding and resourcing models to best meet the needs of all children including digital resourcing for those learners challenged by dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s and autism.
  • Work with students, parents, teachers and school leaders to truly provide choice for parents of special needs students inside our public education system. Where possible, special needs units will be incorporated into mainstream schools.
  • Review the Ongoing Reviewable Resource Scheme (ORRS) with a view to increasing funding to cover the 3 per cent of the school population identified by the Ministry of Education as high needs.
  • Seek to establish tagged funding for student extension and enrichment.
  • Establish nationwide teacher professional development and funding support for high ability and gifted students.
  • Re-establish funding support alongside national professional development for the roll out of the Te Kotahitanga initiative for all schools.
  • Work with Te Ropu Takawaenga Maori o Aotearoa, the national body of Resource Teachers and Advisors of Maori known as NARTAM, and the sector to develop a clear set of national guidelines for Resource Teachers of Maori (RTM) similar to those for other resource teachers.
  • Review the 1996 Memorandum of Understanding which defined the prime purpose of the Resource Teachers of Maori service specifically around kaiako/teacher support to deliver quality teaching and learning Te Reo Maori in both immersion and English-medium schools Years 1 to 13.
  • Work with the sector to develop national curriculum guidelines and progressions for Teaching and Learning Te Reo Maori in immersion schools Years 1 to 13.
  • Review and implement a cohesive approach to training, support and ongoing professional learning and development of teachers of Te Reo Maori in secondary schools.
  • Provide opportunities through scholarships for secondary school teachers to access appropriate qualifications to complete in-service training in Te Reo Māori so they can support bilingual education.
  • Work with the sector to re-establish curriculum and school support advisors alongside schools’ ‘teaching as inquiry’ practice.
  • Establish a national qualification and ongoing professional learning and development programme for Special Needs Co-Ordinators (SENCOs) with responsibility for full spectrum of special needs learners.
  • Create a nationwide professional development career pathway framework for teacher aides.
  • Create a consistent and required professional development and training programme for Boards of Trustees.
  • Provide professional learning and development opportunities for teachers with fair and equitable access for all schools.  
  • Work alongside the sector to explore the establishment of an independent Leadership and Education Research Centre where principals can access in-service training alongside tertiary qualifications and New Zealand based research can be supported to benefit leadership, teaching and learning.
  • Support, and enhance, the work done by Activity Centres by funding nationwide co-ordinated professional development for all centre clusters, directors and staff to address identified areas of needs.
  • Increase the number of Teen Parent Units (TPUs) to extend opportunities for young mothers to remain in education and gain qualifications within a supportive school and community environment.
  • Immediately review funding levels for Careers NZ as this is a priority focus area for New Zealand First.
  • Work alongside Careers NZ and the sector to enhance parent engagement through wider roll out of successful models such as the PAVE Pasifika Families project and the NCEA and Whanau programme.
  • Provide resourcing support within the senior secondary school system to enable clearer provision of vocational pathways for students who wish to pursue options other than academic and university education post school.
  • Review the current staffing allocation model and encourage New Zealand based research into the identification and measurement of relative impact, of the factors including actual class size, that impact on the ability of teachers to use the pedagogies and student focus embedded within the New Zealand curriculum and its effect on student outcomes.
  • Immediately review the effects of the centralization of truancy contracts on school communities and work with the sector to decentralize and better meet local need.
  • Re-allocate Aspire Scholarship funding to support students from low income families to attend public secondary schools.
  • Provide a dedicated fund to support voluntary participation of Y10 students of both genders in the Hestia ‘Stand Up’ Healthy Relationships Programme.

TERTIARY EDUCATION AND TRADE TRAINING

The key to our nation’s social and cultural future lies in education. While its contribution to the economy cannot be overstated, skills for employment cannot be allowed to overwhelm the fundamental nature of education as a public good.

New Zealand First is committed to protecting the autonomy and academic freedom of tertiary education institutions where students, staff and communities are all part of decision making processes. Education works best if it is responsive to learners and students and staff must have a voice in the governance of tertiary education providers. New Zealand First will ensure that students have an independent collective voice, on their campuses and in their lives in order to express their views on matters affecting them as students and citizens. New Zealand First will give students a fair go.

We reject the current model that requires students to borrow to live, limits opportunity and access, and imposes a mortgage on both individual students and our nation’s future.

New Zealand First acknowledges that employers want skill sets and learners want qualifications. It is important to note that all levels of qualification have value and Level 2 industry qualifications are vital to positive transitions between secondary schooling, further education and training or employment. Clear, well-designed and supportive pathways must be in place for all students whether they wish to access academic and university education or pursue other options. New Zealand First is committed to improving transition for all young people from school to further study or work.

New Zealand First believes that alongside the expansion of ‘fees-free’ Youth Guarantee places for 16 to 24 year olds, there needs to be greater flexibility for rural youth who do not have easy access to a wide range of tertiary education providers’ classrooms.

New Zealand First supports the move towards greater use of in-business training outside the current New Zealand apprenticeship model.

New Zealand First will continue to highlight the importance of lifelong learning for an ageing population and in an era when career changes are routine.

New Zealand First will:

  • Introduce sufficient funding so that the tertiary education sector can deliver on its goals, end its dependence on international students, promote collaboration and seamless transition between provincial and urban educational institutions, and achieve equivalent performance relating to our position in the OECD.
  • Work with sector stake holders, including the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), to review the Student Loan Scheme with a focus on reducing the burden of debt and increased access and opportunity.
  • Introduce a universal living allowance which is not subject to parent means testing as a priority for all full-time students.
  • Immediately introduce a dollar-for-dollar debt write-off scheme so that graduates in identified areas of workforce demand may trade a year’s worth of debt for each year of paid full-time work in New Zealand in that area.
  • Review student support systems to ensure that they are adequate to support life-long learning and that they are fit for the purpose of encouraging students to devote themselves to their study free from financial pressures.
  • Introduce a one year repayment holiday for New Zealand based borrowers upon meeting certain application criteria to give equity with overseas based borrowers.
  • Review the Student Loan Scheme with a goal of reducing its burden on former students, in particular those on low incomes within the first years of leaving study.
  • Ensure that all students have a smooth and efficient engagement with Studylink including through improving links with the IRD with appropriate privacy considerations in place.
  • Restore the rights of migrant and refugee students as ‘new New Zealanders’ to access student support.
  • Review the rules that permit institutions identified as ‘Category 1’ to issue their own visas for international students.
  • Enforce the rules for foreign fee paying students to ensure that they are here for an education as opposed to an attempt to bypass the Immigration Skills Processes.
  • Work alongside the sector, including NZUSA, to establish a project to build capacity for enhancing student engagement so students have a say in how, what and why they learn. This would be based on the implementation of the Student Voice for Quality Enhancement report and by funding a long-term programme to build capacity for student voice in the sector ($2m over 5 years).
  • While respecting institutional autonomy and diversity, require through the external review processes that institutions can demonstrate that they have independent, autonomous and well-resourced systems of student advocacy services and for genuinely engaging, through student representatives, with students.
  • Work with NZUSA and the sector to establish an expert reference group with a view to implement two thousand ‘First in Family’ scholarships per year. These will create a step-change in educational aspiration by promoting fee-free education with wrap-around support from secondary, through transition and to completion for those who would be the first in their immediate family to achieve a degree. ($68m over first 3 years 2015 to 2017).
  • Consult with sector stakeholders including the Ministry of Education and the new Teachers Council the number of graduates for certain predictable career pathways to guarantee employment opportunities within New Zealand after graduation.
  • Review funding and attendance models that create barriers to achieving recognized NZQA qualifications through flexible individual training agreements and workplace internships.
  • Actively support secondary schools and tertiary providers to provide quality pathways and stair-casing for Level 2 through to full Level 3 and 4 qualifications through fees-free places alongside a move away from delivering employment based training under the Youth Guarantee Scheme.
  • Remove the ability of business to directly access industry training dollars and re-confirm that Industry Training Organizations have the responsibility for Skills Leadership.
  • Work alongside the sector to develop and resource a clear understanding of the Skills Leadership role and the roles of other stakeholders, ie. trainees, secondary schools, employers.
  • Minimise the “opportunity costs” (administration and compliance) and financial barriers for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to employ apprentices and provide flexibility for provincial and rural New Zealand students.
  • Encourage strategic alliances between industry crown research institutes and tertiary institutions to increase the number of scholarships and government funded research grants available to graduates, universities and employers.

ADULT AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION

An opportunity to access second chance learning for New Zealanders of any and all ages is one of the keys to our nation’s economic, social and cultural future. New Zealand First is committed to ensuring that quality lifelong learning opportunities are available in all communities, are responsive to the needs, wants and interests of those communities and include intergenerational learning.

Adult and Community Education (ACE) programmes and activities sit in the space between formal tertiary education and self-directed learning. Lifelong learning happens everywhere at any time and at any age.Research shows that people engaged in learning experience greater wellbeing and remain connected to their communities.

New Zealand First will:

  • Support the development of an Adult and Communication Education Strategy.
  • Ensure that goals within the ACE Strategy have a sufficient budget attached.
  • Review student support systems to ensure they are fit for purpose and have adequacy for life-long learning.
  • Work with the sector to develop dedicated legislative amendments to the Education Act 1989 clearly stating that lifelong and intergenerational learning are necessary to ensure relevant skills are maintained or acquired as life circumstances and industry needs change.
  • Work with the ACE sector to develop and implement an appropriate and affordable quality assurance process for ACE programmes and activities.

Tracey Martin on this policy

"The often repeated phrase that public schools and our teachers are failing ‘1 in 5 learners’ is simplistic and does not address the real issue of the effect of economic and social conditions outside the school gate. New Zealand First will introduce policies to ensure that every New Zealand kid is supported to be able turn up at school able to learn, and so that our teachers can get on with guiding all children’s learning."