A good education can transform lives.
That is why Education, alongside health and infrastructure, is one of National’s core investment priorities.
As the Member of Parliament for Pakuranga (in East Auckland), I am fortunate to represent an area with some of the best schools in the country, and I feel privileged to serve as National’s Associate Education Spokesperson.
Education is a great leveller in society.
National wants every child to have the opportunity to succeed no matter who they are or where they have come from.
With the right education, we can overcome the challenges some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into.
The Government has introduced numerous reviews and working groups.
In contrast, National’s Education Discussion Document outlines many proposals we want your feedback, and reconfirms our commitments.
In Early Childhood Education (ECE) we continue to focus on those critical first 1000 days for a child, on social investment and on the quality of education and care our children receive in those foundation years.
We are proposing spot checks on ECE services to ensure they are meeting the required standards. If they are breaking the rules, we’re proposing that these services be put on notice and parents informed. If problems aren’t fixed quickly, services will risk losing their license to operate.
Most ECE services do a great job and parents are confident when they leave their child.
However, there is evidence that some are not meeting the quality standards parents expect.
National will also support teachers so they can spend more time actually teaching.
Too often our teachers are burdened with too much bureaucracy.
Teachers should be focussing on face-to-face time with our children.
Last year, Simon Bridges announced that a National Government would reduce class sizes in primary. We are committed to this policy and have now released draft student-teacher ratios for feedback.
More time with a teacher means more opportunities for children to ask questions and get answers, and for teachers to focus on areas where a child may be struggling.
We believe that smaller class sizes will help reduce the workload teachers have.
Smaller class sizes means more teachers.
Incentives to teachers
National is proposing a number of ways, including financial incentives, to attract more people to the profession, or to get people to return to teaching.
We understand the need to have strong recruitment and retention policies to ensure we can deliver the teachers we need.
We are also considering changes to initial teacher training, which include strengthening practicum requirements, accredited schools involved in teacher training and more support for teachers who mentor beginning teachers.
A quality education comes from our teachers, but it also comes from strengthening the Curriculum. We want local curriculum to thrive and teachers to have world class curriculum resources.
Children must leave school with firm foundations in core areas of reading, writing and maths.
We want our children to be digitally savvy and to be digitally fluent.
But we do worry about how much time our young children spend on screens.
We want to ensure that children are not spending too much time on devices and are doing quality learning off-devices.
It is also important parents know how their children are progressing.
National will ensure we continue to improve school reporting systems, including better access to online reporting. As parents you deserve to know what your child is doing and what areas they need to improve on to succeed.
Tertiary education changes
National is also proposing some changes at the tertiary level. First year Fees Free has been an expensive failure. Not only has it not increased participation, but also there are fewer learners now than before. It’s been a waste of hard earned taxpayer money, so we want your feedback on some possible alternatives.
We also oppose the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education.
A National Government will return polytechnic assets and decision making back to regional polytechnics. We know the regions and local industry are best placed to teach their students.
Sixth Discussion Document
This is our sixth discussion document and it shows National has the ideas and momentum, while Labour is failing to deliver on its promises for New Zealanders.
Our Education Discussion Document is a part of the biggest policy development process undertaken by an Opposition ever.
We are doing the work now so, we are ready to hit the ground running in 2020.
Enter into the contest of ideas with your feedback at www.national.org.nz/education.
Simeon Brown is Member of Parliament elected from Pakuranga Constituency in East Auckland. He is National Party’s Associate Spokesperson for Education, Tertiary Education and Skills & Employment.