Capsule Votes – Education Edition: How the Parties Stack Up On The Issues YOU Care Most About

Which issues do you feel most strongly about as the election looms? We asked our readers this on social media – and you answered with five issues that are top of mind right now: the cost of living, health, education, childcare and climate change. So we’ve TRAWLED through party policy, and here we’ve broken down the policies on these five issues in this series in the lead-up to the election. We’ve covered cost of living and healthcare so far, and up this time it’s education. What measures are the main parties planning to take to improve the education system? Read on, especially if you’re not sure who you’re giving your vote to just yet!

Note – we don’t have the scope to mention absolutely everything, but we’ll bullet-point the key moves and measures that we think you’ll care about, and we encourage you to head to the individual parties’ websites for more in-depth details.

Education

Many of us who have children, or may do so one day, are interested and invested in education as a means to give our kids the skills to succeed in life. Most of us who don’t have kids care about education too – hoping that today’s schoolchildren will become well-informed, engaged citizens (not to mention future taxpayers!).

Given the pandemic and recent extreme-weather events disrupted the education of many students, how can they be helped to make up lost ground? Also, are students learning enough core subjects or life skills at school? What would be done to help school-leavers? What about tertiary students? Here are some key measures proposed by the parties, some pushing a ‘back to basics’ plan.

Labour would:

  • Provide at least two million hours of free catch-up maths and literacy tutoring support for Years 7-13, focussing on regions most affected by Covid lockdowns, the North Island extreme-weather events, and other disruptions to learning. This includes programmes specifically designed for Māori and Pacific students.
  • Roll out a new maths and literacy curriculum with ‘Core Teaching Requirements’, and provide a training fund to help primary and intermediate teachers implement this.
  • Continue its rollout of Learning Support Coordinators who help students with additional learning needs, starting with specialised Learning Support Coordinators in Kaupapa Māori and Māori medium education (where students are taught all or some curriculum subjects in te reo Māori).
  • Require financial skills to be taught in schools.
  • Continue the free Healthy School Lunches programme.
  • Make permanent the existing Apprenticeship Boost Initiative, which pays employers $500 per month for taking on and keeping an apprentice. This scheme also provides a pipeline of tradespeople to fill labour shortages.

National would:

  • Ban cellphones in all schools.
  • Rewrite the primary-school and intermediate-school curriculum to state what must be taught in reading, writing, maths and science to every year group.
  • Introduce its ‘Teaching the Basics Brilliantly’ policy, which would require primary and intermediate schools to teach, on average, an hour a day each of reading, writing and maths.
  • Establish a ‘Literacy Guarantee’ that would require primary schools to teach ‘structured literacy’ (a framework that teaches word-identification strategies, phonics, syllable patterns, vocabulary, and writing structure).
  • Require ‘standardised robust assessment’ at least twice a year in reading, writing and maths from Year 3-8. Results will be reported to parents. 
  • Introduce an exit exam for primary and intermediate teaching graduates that would assess their ability in teaching reading, writing, maths and science.
  • Continue the Healthy School Lunches program.
  • Expand New Zealand’s recruitment of international students to more countries, and make sure that international students have a pathway to permanent residency.

The Green Party would:

  • Create on-site hubs in schools that include health, mental-health, and social services.
  • Extend the Healthy School Lunches programme, increasing the number of children benefiting from 230,000 to 365,000.
  • End classroom streaming/grouping by perceived ability.
  • Ensure that education on healthy relationships, emotional management, and affirmative sexual consent is in school curriculums.
  • Introduce a minimum income of $385 a week for tertiary students, regardless of their level of study, age, or parental income.

ACT would:

  • Give each child $250,000 for their life’s education costs to enable choice. From age two to age 18, a student would get $12,000 per year placed into a Student Education Account. At age 18, they’d receive a further $30,000 for tertiary education, with up to $50,000 available through a scholarship program. The money could be spent at any registered education institution.
  • Create ‘online league tables’ (where you can find data on the performance of every school).
  • Establish a $250 million a year Teaching Excellence Reward Fund.
  • Axe the Healthy School Lunches program.

NZ First would:

  • Remove education about gender and sexuality from the school curriculum.
  • Enforce compulsory education by better addressing truancy.

Te Pāti Māori would:

  • Make Te Reo Māori and Māori history core subjects up to year 10.
  • Introduce a universal allowance for tertiary students, at double the current rate.

The Opportunities Party (TOP) would:

  • Build a new primary and secondary school in Christchurch.
  • Provide young people with $5000 to go towards their education, training or Kiwisaver, in return for completing a National Civic Service Program by age 23.

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