Make a cuppa, grab a couple of bikkies, and take the time to watch this video before you choose where to put your vote on September 20th.
“The Wellington region of the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) invited the main political parties’ education spokespeople to deliver their views to a live audience.
Here is the video clip of the well attended event.”
There was an air of excitement, tension and hope at last night’s Tick For Kids education forum in Wellington. The room was packed, and people were very keen to hear what the parties’ representatives have to say about education policy.
Kiwis are no fools, though, with people well aware of what Chris McKenzie called the pre-election lolly scramble to present popular policy, only 10% of which we might see post-election.
Given what we have heard so far and what was presented at this forum, we can only hope that far more than 10% of the promises come to fruition should there be a change in government.
So, to the night.
The panel comprised Hekia Parata (National), Chris Hipkins (Labour), Tracey Martin (NZ First), Peter Dunne (United Future), Chris McKenzie (Maori Party), Suzanne Ruthven (Greens), and Miriam Pierard (Internet-Mana) and was MCed very well by Dave Armstrong.
The candidates’ names were drawn from a bowl to determine the order in which they spoke – all very fair and orderly – and Armstrong made clear that people were welcome to mention each other, refer to other parties’ policies, and so on – unlike the shambles at Helensville the previous night. That got a big giggle.
(Clearly the Helensville event wasn’t run by Tick For Kids, otherwise it would have been far more interesting and informative.)
First up was Chris McKenzie (Maori Party)
McKenzie outlined a credible background in education and then won a significant ripple of applause when he said the Maori Party will reinstate ACE (Adult and Community Education) funding.
McKenzie also said they would make Te Reo compulsory and would look into the teaching of civics so that students understand the democratic process.
Given I had spent 90 minutes the night before trying to explain that very thing to my babysitter, I could well understand the need for civics in the curriculum. Maybe my high school colleagues can fill me in on what they feel is needed?
Peter Dunne (United Future) was up next
Dunne spoke mostly in generalities, with lots of feel good stuff about great teaching and high expectations, saying he wouldn’t be more specific as United Future’s policy is not out until next week!
He did, however, go out on a high note by stating UF would work to repeal charter schools.
Cue more audience applause.
Hekia Parata (National; Education Minister) was the next to take centre stage
Parata started by saying that student achievement had risen during National’s time in government and that now students are staying in school longer, saying that there was still more to do, especially for the neediest groups.
There was a wee round of clapping from one corner of the room. I later spotted that group leaving with Ms Parata – whether anyone *not* in her entourage clapped, I cannot say for sure…
Parata then said that special education needs was a key area of focus, and this elicited mumbling from the audience, most of whom are no doubt well aware that SEN provision is diabolical and has only got worse under this government. For my own part, it was all I could do to stay quiet and not shout “Tell that to Salisbury School!”
Parata continued on to say that Investing in Education Success (IES) policy would see to it that those issues are all addressed. This did not go down well with the audience. There was muttering.
Parata ended with a flourish by pronouncing “decile is not destiny” and banging the lectern. It might have gone down well were it not for the fact that teachers KNOW THAT already and don’t take kindly to being patronised. If she was waiting for a round of applause for her showmanship, she was disappointed.
And if showmanship is what was called for, we were in luck, because the next person to speak was Tracey Martin (New Zealand First), who always gives a clear and excellent speech.
Tracey Martin (New Zealand First)
Martin pulled no punches, opening by saying that teachers and the education system have been under constant attack by this government and it’s been relentless. She listed what we have seen from National: increased class sizes, charter schools, national standards and more.
Martin said parents were tricked into supporting (or at least not fighting) National Standards by the promise that they would be helpful, but said that’s not turned out to be the case.
In other words, the sales pitch doesn’t match what’s delivered.
The audience seemed to agree, with a large clap and mutterings of “too right”.
There was no pause as Martin went straight into EDUCANZ and the assault on teachers’ democracy. More clapping.
Martin then made absolutely clear that NZF would repeal both National Standards and charter schools. Applause from the room.
She went on to say that the conversation about how to improve education needs to be given back to teachers, that the sector itself needs to be involved and listened to.
She said change should be driven by teachers and facilitated by politicians, not the other way around.
Barely pausing for breath, Martin said Boards of Trustees (BOTs) would get compulsory training under NZF plans, ORS funding would increase to 3%, and there would be more money for special needs across the board.
This was all very well received by the audience, and Martin ended by saying (in a wee dig at Dunne) that New Zealand First’s education policy is already online, in full, and had been there for three months. She urged us all to read it. You should.
Suzanne Ruthven (Green Party)
Tracey Martin was a hard act to follow, but Suzanne Ruthven from the Green Party (who was standing in for Catherine Delahunty due to a family emergency) spoke to the effect of poverty on a student’s chances of success, said that education needed to be seen in its wider context, and outlined briefly the Green Party’s School Hubs Policy.
Ruthven explained that School Hubs would be flexible, there was money there for a Hub coordinator so that teachers were not expected to run them on top of their workload, and that schools and communities to mould them in whatever ways best suited their own needs.
And now to Chris Hipkins (Labour)
Chris started by saying he got a top rate education in a state school, and thanked his maths teacher who he had spotted at the back of the room.
He won the crowd over further by quoting Beeby:
“…every person, whatever his level of academic ability, whether he be rich or poor, whether he live in town or country, has a right, as a citizen, to a free education of the kind for which he is best fitted, and to the fullest extent of his powers.” C E Beeby
Without a pause for breath, Hipkins said charter schools would be repealed under Labour. National Standards would be gone. IES would be gone. School donations would be addressed.
He then said the Advisory Service would be put back in place, and the audience erupted into applause and cheers.
He went on – ECE would be funded to 100% qualified staff – more clapping
– and EDUCANZ would be ditched – HUGE applause and cheers, again, from the audience.
Hipkins sat down with the clapping still going.
Miriam Pierard was next up
Pierard explainsed that until very recently she was a teacher, and she believes once a teacher always a teacher.
It is, she says, time to take the education system back.
Pierard was clear that poverty and education need to be addressed together and that any government must work alongside teachers to find solutions. She stressed that the Internet Party want to hear from teachers about what they believe needs to be done.
Pierard reminds the crowd that ACT Party describe teachers as “vile” and says not all politicians feel that way.
Pierard ends by asking how many teachers in the room have been stuffed over by Novopay? Over half the hands went up. There’s applause for the recognition of the scale of the problem. She nods, sagely.
We all nod.
And with that, the candidates’ speeches are over, and we are onto Question Time… which deserves a post all of its own….
Other articles about the event:
“This is the last chance teachers have to elect their own council before the Government replaces it with the newly formed Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (EDUCANZ).
“Education Minister Hekia Parata has cited low voter turnout as a justification for doing away with elections altogether. That’s clearly caught people’s attention and the high interest in this year’s council election shows just how much teachers value their voice.
“For a professional body to be effective it must have the confidence and support of those that it seeks to govern. EDUCANZ won’t have that support because teachers feel so disempowered as a result of its creation.
“Submissions to the select committee considering this change overwhelmingly opposed the removal of democracy from the teaching profession. In fact, the Government’s wider education reforms were completely opposed by 91 per cent, or 855 of 937 submitters.
“Labour believes teachers should have their own voice.
“A Labour Government will guarantee their right to elect their own representatives to their professional body,” Chris Hipkins says.
For more information:
The candidates are as follows.
Early Childhood Education Sector
ANDREWS Tiffany – Tauranga
CONNELL Bevan – Upper Hutt
EDGELER Clair – Auckland
IVES Phillipa – Christchurch
JEUNE Margaret – Levin
SHEARSBY Viv – Christchurch
SPRAGGS David – Gisborne
TREWEEK Julie – Matamata
VARNEY Jenny – Upper Hutt
WALL Josie – Papakura
WILSON Cathy – Porirua
BLAKEY Shelley – Tauranga
CRONIN Brenda – Auckland
HIWINUI SOLOMON Arna Rose – Raglan
MACKIE Sarndra – Rotoura
ORMANDY Sally – Christchurch
ROBINS Susan – Auckland
SARICH Shell – Northland
SHORTLAND Jim – Moerewa
TAMAMASUI Pena – Auckland
TUIONO Teariki o te Maka – Auckland
AMOS Claire – Auckland
CASSIDY Megan – Christchurch
CRUDEN John – Timaru
FLAVELL Will – Auckland
GOULD Jan – Wellington
KAHL Jo – Wellington
KING Stuart – Auckland
MCGRATH Fiona Gaylene – Whangarei
MITCHELL Karen – Auckland
OTTO Pennie Vaione – Auckland
PIERCE Gregory – Havelock North
SHEPPARD Doug – Lower Hutt
TARRY Michael – Auckland
BRUCE Linley – Auckland
MALCOLM Anne – Auckland
NEWMAN Pat – Whangarei
The elections will be conducted by internet and postal voting, using the First Past the Post (FPP) voting system.
Voting information together with information about the candidates will be sent to all registered teachers on Wednesday 3 September 2014.
Voting closes at 12 noon on Friday 3 October 2014.
Candidate names will be listed on the voting documents in pseudo random order.
Any queries are to be directed to the Returning Officer on the Election Helpline on 0508 666 001
More than 30 organisations supporting the Tick for Kids campaign leading up to the General Election on 20 September are disappointed to see the latest Household Incomes Report and Economic Survey showing there are still far too many children living in poverty, leading to many going without the basic good and services they need. Children carry a disproportionate burden of poverty in New Zealand, with 22 percent of those aged 0-17 years in poverty because policies do not maintain adequate income levels for young families and housing costs lead to high outgoings.
Director of Mana Ririki, and Tick for Kids spokesperson, Anton Blank said, “The report confirms the difference that can be made to New Zealanders’ standard of living when the right policies are in place. Older people are a powerful lobby group – consequently the political parties have responded with policies that provide a guaranteed minimum level of income that keeps up with inflation and wage growth. Just 7 percent of those over 65 years live in poverty.
“The report released today is a reminder of what happens when voters and political parties ignore children. It shows a widening gap in the incomes of those on benefits and those on wages, particularly for sole parent families. It also shows that half of families living in rental accommodation and receiving the Accommodation Supplement are paying more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing costs.
“Successive governments have neglected children and voters have allowed them to do so. As a result, children are those most likely to live in poverty – with all of the negative health and education impacts that result from it. The reports shows that:
“Anyone concerned to ensure that New Zealand is a secure, productive and creative nation needs to call on political parties to prioritise children. It is time to build the political consensus that ensures children have a standard of living that supports their development and meets our nation’s legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Mr Blank.
As it’s election year, you will want to know the education policies of the people clamouring for your vote. The rhetoric and mainstream media reporting doesn’t always give a clear picture. Mind you, policies sometimes don’t either… but it’s still a good idea to read, think and discuss them.
After reading, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Is there anything more you would like to ask? Anything you want to challenge? Anything you’re pleased to see, or think is missing? Also, feel free to add your comments or links to additional party policies at the bottom.
While education for many children is among the best in the world, we have a well-known “long-tail” of underachievers, who become the next generation of under skilled, unemployed, disengaged citizens. After 70 years of state controlled and mandated education, we have a situation where around 20% of our children left school last year unable to read or write sufficiently to fill out a job application.
Specific Policy Points
Labour on dyslexia and learning difference
The Labour Party stands for an inclusive education system in which every New Zealander is given the opportunity to achieve to their full potential. We recognise that everyone is different, we all learn at different rates, and we all have different strengths and abilities.
Every school a great school
Every New Zealand child has the right to attend their local school and to have any individual learning needs they may have catered for at that school. Labour wants to ensure that every school is a great school, and every teacher a great teacher. We will invest heavily in teacher professional development, including programmes that equip teachers to cater to the diverse range of learning needs our students have.
Equal opportunity for all
Labour is increasingly concerned about the growing inequality within our education system. No one should have their options limited because of the part of society they are born into. Labour is committed to addressing the issue of child poverty.
Equal access to support
We have been vocal in raising concerns about unequal access to Special Assessment Conditions for NCEA candidates and have made clear out commitment to ensuring that every student gets the support they need, regardless of what school they attend. No student should be denied access to SAC because their parents are unable to pay for the specialist assessments required to apply for it.
A change to special education funding
Labour is concerned that the current funding system for special education relies too heavily on individual learners meeting the criteria imposed by the system, rather than the system catering for the individual needs of each learner. We want to turn that around so that every student with an identified learning need gets the support necessary for them to achieve to their full potential.
National’s unrelenting focus is on raising achievement for all our students. Most of our kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and going on to enjoy the opportunities a great education provides. But our plan is about getting all of our kids achieving education success and raising achievement for five out of five.
We believe high-quality education is vitally important. It provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead and make the most of their life. Research and experience show that providing an intensive package of support for students with complex needs in their local schools results in better outcomes for students.
National’s aim is to achieve a fully inclusive education system with confident schools, confident parents, and confident children. We want to see all schools demonstrating inclusive practice.
The wraparound service approach supports the findings in the Special Education Review 2010, the Government’s key themes for special education, and the Ministry’s commitment to achieving inclusive practices through improved systems and support as outlined in the Positive Behaviour for Learning action plan. This plan focuses on supporting parents and providing teachers in all schools with the skills and knowledge to deal with behavioural issues.
UPDATED – Latest policy as at 5/9/14 is HERE: http://nzfirst.org.nz/sites/nzfirst/files/manifesto_2014_final_version_3.pdf
New Zealand First is very aware of the current lack of support for students with the educational challenges faced by those with Dyslexia. And while there have been some steps towards providing support for these students at NCEA level. It is our view that not only should these supports in the later educational years be strengthened but that these solutions must be delivered down into the earlier education years.
New Zealand First is a strong advocate for “front ending the spend”. And I am currently working on a policy presentation around enhancing the collection of School Entry Assessment data so that children with educational needs can be identified earlier and provided with these supports, along the lines of the Finnish education system, earlier rather than later when damage to self-esteem has already taken place.
It is our view that it is inappropriate for any students family to have to privately fund an educational psychologists report in order for their child to access academic support for dyslexia. At a recent financial review of NZQA I raised the topic of digital independence from human reader/writers for our NCEA students. For example, a screen reader is an essential piece of software for a blind or visually impaired person which could be also be of use to those with dyslexia. Simply put, a screen reader transmits whatever text is displayed on the computer screen into a form that a visually impaired user can process (usually tactile, auditory or a combination of both). It does not take a large stretch of the imagination to see that this technology could be used to “read” for those with dyslexia. And the fact that there are several screen reader programmes that are free to the user and we see that cost now no longer becomes a factor. What about the challenge of writing for our dyslexic students – well voice recognition has been around for a very long time now and with many schools moving to a “bring your own device environment” a headset microphone and cool earphones should not even raise an eyebrow in a modern learning environment.
It is our view that National Standards has not identified anything new for these or other New Zealand students. New Zealand Teachers were already aware of those children who were having difficulty due to a variety of reasons. New Zealand First would have preferred to spend the close to $38 million budgeted to date for National Standards on the actual identification of children with challenges and providing the appropriate resources to support them participate to their best ability inside our schools. While current and recent governments have finally acknowledged that Dyslexia exists they have taken no concrete steps to assist these students as early as possible through the appropriate resourcing of schools to support these students with identification testing (as you are aware dyslexia has an enormous range and require very individual assessment) and digital resources so that the student, at the earliest possible time in their development, can learn alongside their peers with pride, can meet success inside an educational environment that supports their specific challenge while celebrating the alternative and creative perspective these same students bring to the classroom environment.
Should New Zealand First have influence after the 2014 election this is an area we would seek to invest in. (end)
So there you go – the main parties’ policies and statements on education. What are your thoughts after reading them? Anything more you would like to ask? Anything you want to challenge? Any other policies or information to add? Comment below.
If it inspires to you to ask more, or to share your thoughts, you can use these links to reach your local MP and the main NZ newspapers:
Click here for a list of New Zealand MPs’ email addresses
Click here for email addresses of NZ Newspapers
And last but not least … do remember to VOTE.
Sources and further reading:
It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years. I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief. To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.
I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.
So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.
This is the list. It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train. Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years. It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.
Take a breath, and read on:
A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:
You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)
The full Local Bodies article is here. It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)
Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.
Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act. How?
Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.