PPTA on Education Policies 2014 Election: Part One

Tena koutou katoa,

This week the PPTA released an overview of party education policies to provide information for the upcoming election. Education is a critical area for our people.  We have grave concerns about the neo-liberal drive of the National Government. Newly instigated policies such as Charter schools and the Investing in Education Success are based upon flawed assumptions of what will work for our people.  We have been sold these policies on the back of ‘Maori underachievement’.  Maori education has been used to sell these policies as if they will make a difference, yet there is no evidence of that.  Charter Schools have not worked to make any significant change and the neoliberal market approach to them does not empower communities but rather places funding and economic pressure on many.  We have a range of structural ways of having diverse forms of schooling. Market driven developments will not make a huge difference in Maori Education.  Kaupapa Maori approaches, curriculum and pedagogical reform, removal of colonial power and ideologies in the system must be our points of engagement for our tamariki and mokopuna.

 

Te Wharepora Hou shares the PPTA survey and questions & answers here for your reference and to provide more insights in to party policies so that we can make informed decision in this Election 2014.   Below is the PPTA table that provides an overview of key areas.  This is then followed by 5 of the Questions and Answers from those that participated in the survey.  Another 5 questions will be included in the next blog.  The PPTA site that provides this information is: http://www.ppta.org.nz

 

ppta table

 1. Should we target more support and resources to schools and students in poor communities?

ACT

ACT supports different funding levels based on levels of need. We do not have a policy to change the current balance, however we are open to evidence that it should be changed. The amount of resource that a society should invest in human capital is an open question.

Green

Yes. The Green Party has a plan to put ‘Schools at the Heart’ of communities, https://www.greens.org.nz/schoolsattheheart which initially targets all decile 1-4 primary and intermediate schools, to provide wrap-around services in health, welfare, and social support. Under a Green Government, these schools will have a dedicated school-hub coordinator to run the ‘one-stop-shops’, free afterschool and holiday care programmes, a lunch programme, and a full-time school nurse. We’d also build high quality ECE centres onsite where there is demand. We know that hungry kids, sick kids, and kids living under the stress of poverty don’t reach their potential in school because their basic needs are not being met. The Green Party’s Schools at the Heart plan will help these children out of poverty through improving the quality of their learning time at school. Our policy is to increase the Operations Grant which funds all state and integrated schools to reflect the real cost of providing education. Our overarching social policy goal is to reduce inequality by investing more in communities and families who have been struggling under the National Government.

Internet

Yes. Education is key in reducing inequalities and schools are an essential feature of a community. Schools and teachers in poorer communities must be supported. It is estimated that 100,000 children go to school hungry each day. Internet MANA will introduce a government funded breakfast and lunch programme into low decile schools to ensure that all children are fed and able to learn each school day. This would be part of a wider health and well-being package for schools that would also include health, dental care and support services.

Labour

Yes. Labour knows that socio-economic background has a larger impact on student achievement in New Zealand than in any other OECD country. Labour will partner with community and voluntary organisations to provide free food in every decile 1-3 primary and intermediate school that needs and wants it. Labour will also develop a network of high quality centre-based early intervention programs addressing the needs of vulnerable children in the most deprived areas. We will also fund schools $100 per student per year if they don’t demand donations from parents.

Mana

Yes

Māori

Yes

National

We should target support and resources to where it will have impact on lifting achievement for all. The Government has made year on year increases in schools operations grants, despite tight fiscal circumstances, at or above the level of inflation. I have received a lot of feedback from the education profession that the decile funding system is well intentioned but could be improved. However, any changes would have to be well thought through, be well foreshadowed and would require a lot of discussion and work alongside the profession and sector groups.

NZ First

Yes. New Zealand First believes in “front ending the spend” and providing support and resources to students with “need” no matter where they are in New Zealand. We should target the support and resources to where the child is – what is logical is that this likely to be top heavy toward those in less affluent communities.

United Future

Yes

2. Will you resource and support secondary schools to become hubs for health and social services for students and their communities? 

ACT

We support greater flexibility in funding so that schools can decide which services to provide. Under such a model many schools might decide to offer more health and social services than they do currently.

Green

Yes. Our intention is to start with decile 1-4 primary and intermediate schools, but roll this model out much wider, including to secondary schools. We will work with them to develop a hubs plan that suits the particular needs of their students and communities.

Internet

Yes. Schools are an essential focus of a community and schools being used as hubs for other community services complements this fact.

Labour

Yes, Labour will recognise and support the role of schools as community hubs by:

• Working with local councils to better coordinate provision of public services and facilities such as libraries, swimming pools, recreational facilities and community halls

• Actively encouraging the co-location of other social services on school sites, including health services and programmes that support parents

• Encourage greater co-location of schools and early childhood centres

• Making better use of school facilities by re-instating funding to adult and community education programmes.

Mana

Yes

Māori

Yes

National

The core focus of schools is to lift the quality of learning and raise achievement for every student. There are some secondary schools that are operating in an integrated way. Future schools like the new Aranui campus in Christchurch are an example of communities who have chosen to do this. Vote Education will continue to resource and support secondary schools to raise achievement.

NZ First

No. Our concern here is that the pressure on our schools to be the cure to all social ills will be increased if they are now the delivery agents for social services and health – what are the possible unintended consequences – we are open to a discussion around this issue.

United Future

Yes

3. Will you reverse the quarterly funding of school operations grants?

ACT

No we support the principle that funding should follow the child, calculating student numbers and funding on a quarterly basis is in line with this principle.

Green

Yes. Schools need sustainable and predictable funding that meets their real costs and allows them the flexibility to plan ahead.

Internet

Yes, back to annual funding

Labour

Labour will conduct a full review of school operations grants, including quarterly funding.

Mana

Yes

Māori

No

National

No – Schools’ operational grants will further increase by 2 per cent at a cost of $85.3 million over the next four years bringing the total spend on school operational grants to $1.23 billion during 2014/15. The increase will take financial pressure off schools and help them continue to focus on raising student achievement.

NZ First

For secondary schools yes as this has had a negative impact – for primary schools we would first like to review if this has been a positive before we would remove.

United Future

No

4. Do you support eliminating large class sizes?

ACT

We support parents, teachers, and boards’ right to decide what the optimal class size is, which may vary from teacher to teacher. If a teacher can teach 25 per cent more students with equal or better results, the school should have the option of paying them more, rather than attempting to make one size fit all.

Green

Yes. Quality learning time should not be a privilege of the rich. Kids benefit from more time with their teachers. This is why smaller class sizes is a key marketing platform for private schools. Teachers also want to be able to give their best to every student, and large classes and higher workloads are contributing to burnout.

Internet

Yes

Labour

Yes. There is a consensus amongst education researchers that smaller class sizes make a positive difference to children’s learning. Children in smaller classes get more personalised attention and are more focused on their learning tasks. Teachers with smaller classes have higher morale and are more able to undertake professional development, which has positive flow-on effects for children’s learning. Labour will reduce class sizes by funding an extra 2000 teachers using resources freed up by scrapping National’s flawed ‘executive principals’ policy.

At the secondary level, Labour’s changes will draw upon the work of the Secondary Schools’ Staffing Group (2011-12). Our aim is to address the approximately 50 percent of schools whose class size across all years exceeds 23. This will be done by implementing a Maximum Average Class Size (MACS) provision, similar to the one in place in primary schools, but across all schools, not just smaller ones.

In practice, almost all secondary schools currently have an average class size, across all years, of 26 or less. Labour will introduce a secondary MACS in 2016 with a maximum average class size of 25. This will then fall to 24 in 2017 and 23 in 2018.

Mana

Yes

Māori

Yes

National

We support lifting the quality of teaching and leadership, creating modern learning environments and at a secondary school level funding an average class size ratio of 1 teacher to 23 students.

NZ First

Yes. New Zealand First was actually the first party to stand in the Parliament and in a speech suggest that an answer to the large number of newly trained teachers that were unable to find employment could be placed in classes with more experienced teachers thereby cutting class size in half, addressing an aging teaching workforce, passing on the experience of the older teacher, passing on the digital knowledge of the younger teacher. This could be an interim measure while we establish how many physical spaces we would require to lower class size.

United Future

Yes.

5. Will you scrap the Education Amendment Bill that introduces Educanz?

ACT

No, after the abysmal performance of the NZTC over many years we are keen to see something new.

Green

Yes. Educanz is undemocratic and a cynical move by the Minister to hand-pick politically appointed representatives.

Internet

Yes

Labour

Yes. Labour is concerned that the lack of democratic representation undermines the integrity and independence of the whole organisation. The level of ministerial influence exercised by this Bill compromises the universities’ autonomy, will harm their reputation and undermine their social critic and conscience function.

Mana

Yes

Māori

No

National

No. We are committed that the education profession has the characteristics and tools of a profession, including its own professional association. That is what EDUCANZ is.

NZ First

Yes. We would remove the areas of the Act that 100% of the profession has objected to and that we believe is devaluing teachers and the profession.

United Future

No

 

About Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.
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