Timely review of education legislation



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Tracey Martin believes the review of the Education Act gives a timely opportunity to set an agreed direction and shared vision for New Zealand education.

Tracey Martin, Education Spokesperson, New Zealand First

Tracey MartinWhat society asks of our public education system continues to change and intensify. New Zealand First believes it is time to have meaningful, open and transparent consultation about the review of the Education Act 1989. This would take place in a similar manner to that which developed our world-leading curriculum documents. Consultation 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; discussion that includes the voice of students, parents and caregivers, support staff, teachers, school leaders and school trustees.

This 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 and a shared vision 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, politicians must recognise that they are not educational experts. It is the job of legislators to make sure that all citizens’ rights to education are enshrined and protected by practical appropriate laws.

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 of children’s progress based on curriculum levels.

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

New Zealand First believes 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.

We support the investment of additional funds to enhance teaching and learning but it cannot be driven just by a Minister’s sense of priorities. New Zealand First commits to the $359 million announced in Budget 2014 but contends that this money should be available for professional development, building collaborative arrangements between schools, professional leadership opportunities etc., following genuine consultation with the sector. However, we have heard the voice of early childhood and special needs groups and agree that there is a desperate need to “front end the spend” rather than continue with “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” expenditure. We are strongly opposed to charter or partnership schools as the excuse to ignore an operational funding crisis that is emerging in public schools. No charter school contract would be renewed and all funding would be returned to the public school system for the benefit of all
New Zealanders.

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