Labour is the Party of Education.
It is a priority for us because a good education provides our children with a lifetime of opportunities. Our belief is and always has been that no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, you have the right to a free high-quality education.
That’s why Labour is committed to delivering a world-class education at your local school.
National’s ideas consist of cramming more children into classrooms, setting up charter schools with unregistered teachers and creating league tables with information even John Key calls ‘ropey’.
Labour is doing some fresh thinking on education. We’ll be releasing a range of new ideas over the coming months, but in the meantime we are making some clear commitments.
- Labour will extend reading recovery to all NZ schools because our children shouldn’t be dropping out without basic skills.
- Labour will work with community agencies to put food in schools so children are no longer failing to learn because of hardship at home.
- Labour will introduce clear and easy to understand school report cards so that parents know whether their child’s school is up to scratch.
- Labour will develop new ideas to bridge the gap between the classroom and workforce so young people go into further training or work instead of ending up on the unemployment scrapheap.
Education is critical to ensuring our children and country prosper. We make no apologies for investing in it because every Kiwi kid deserves the same opportunity – the best education from their first day at school to their first day on the job.
- One in 12 New Zealand 9 year-olds don’t meet the lowest international benchmark for reading (as set by PIRLS).
- This is worse than the international average of 1 in 17, with much worse rates for Māori and Pasifika students from poor schools, where 1 in 5 children don’t meet the benchmark. These low reading rates contribute to our long tail of underachievement.
- The international ‘gold standard’ for helping children who fall behind in reading is Reading Recovery, developed right here in New Zealand by Marie Clay in the 1970s.
- Yet Reading Recovery is not necessarily available to some of those who would most benefit from it in New Zealand.
- It is actually offered in fewer poor schools than wealthier schools. Only 59% of low-decile schools have Reading Recovery compared with 73% of high-decile schools.
- Māori students and Pasifika students were less likely to have Reading Recovery available in their school.
- This is primarily a funding issue. The Ministry of Education only pays for half of the cost of Reading Recovery. Schools need to find the other half from their own budgets.
- Poorer schools find it difficult to provide enough Reading Recovery places to meet student need, resulting in waiting lists or students missing out altogether.
- Some schools therefore opt for other interventions, which cost less per student. But most principals in schools not offering Reading Recovery would do so if they could.
- More needs to be done if we are to make this a genuine option for every school.
- Labour intends to remove the barriers preventing schools – including many of those who need it the most – from offering Reading Recovery.
- We will work with schools to determine a fair proportion of direct Ministry funding so all schools will be able to afford to offer Reading Recovery to all students who need it.
- We want to lift the proportion of 6-year olds receiving Reading Recovery from 14% at present to at least 20% (the proportion that the programme has historically targeted and the estimated need).
- This would suggest an additional 5,000 children a year benefiting from Reading Recovery each year, over and above the 11,000 currently receiving it.
- We will also develop a parallel ‘maths recovery’ intervention, so that children struggling with basic numeracy skills can receive one-on-one assistance by age 7 or 8.
- 80% of the students who left Reading Recovery during 2010 had reached the reading level of their classroom peers.
- A New Zealand Council for Educational Research evaluation found that Reading Recovery was effective for different students and in a range of contexts, with those who started off furthest behind making the greatest gains.
- Labour’s proposal would lift the total cost of Reading Recovery to the education system from about $40 million to an estimated $60 million. It is likely that this additional $20 million would be met through direct government funding.
- In addition, we will investigate whether some of the $20 million currently shared amongst schools should be funded directly by government.
- A 2005 study by New Zealand researchers concluded that “a significant number of New Zealand children’s diets were so poor that their brain functioning was affected”.1
- This impact on student achievement is only getting worse with the number of children living in hardship increasing from 15 per cent in 2007 to 21 per cent last year.2
- There are now 270,000 children living in poverty.
- Hunger and poverty is one of the reasons socio-economic background has a larger impact on student achievement in New Zealand than in any other OECD country.3
- Every week 40,000 kids turn up to school without breakfast or without lunch and are fed by charities.4
- But there a more kids who need help. The last nationwide survey of children’s nutrition undertaken by the Ministry of Health found 83,000 children aged 5 to 14, sometimes or often went to school without breakfast.5
- Non-profits like KidsCan and churches as well as businesses like Sanitarium and Fonterra (through the Kickstart programme) are already doing a great job providing students at low decile schools with free food, but they don’t reach every school and every kid that needs it.
- Last year a food in schools programme run by the Red Cross, which fed 1,600 children every day, was forced to close down after its main food sponsor pulled out.6
- National is ignoring the problem. Last year they spent $562,874 on sports funding for private schools7 yet only spent barely half that ($317,000) on support for organisations providing free food in low decile schools.8
- Labour will partner with community and voluntary organisations, incorporating the most cost-effective approaches currently operating, to provide free food in every decile 1-3 primary, intermediate school that needs and wants it.
- There are 650 decile 1-3 primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand with a total of roll of 119,135 students.9
- There are a range of estimates of what would be required to fund a credible food in schools programme. The final cost of Labour’s food in schools initiative will depend on the design of the programme, the type of meals provided and the input and support received from the local community and businesses.
- The Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty cites a figure of $3 million for the poorest 40% of schools, based upon estimates from KidsCan.10
- The Child Poverty Action Group has estimated that it would cost $18.9 million a year to provide breakfasts for the poorest 30% of primary and intermediate schools.11
- That includes $10.9 million for food and $8 million for administration costs which would be substantially reduced by Labour’s partnership approach.
- By ensuring that every decile 1-3 student has access to at least one healthy and filling meal each day they are at school, this proposal will remove a significant barrier to student’s learning and achievement.
- Here is a sample of major studies on the link between nutrition and children’s learning:12
- Poor school performance can also be improved through the provision of breakfasts in schools. In Massachussetts, children who participated in a school breakfast programme achieved higher test scores and had reduced absenteeism (Meyers, Sampson, Weitzman, Rogers, & Kayne, 1989).
- There is now a substantial body of research showing breakfast consumption contributes to students’ academic performance and school attendance (Rampersaud, Pereira, Girard, Adams, & Metzl, 2005).
- Eating a good quality breakfast has been found to slow the rate children’s cognitive performance declines during the morning (Ingwersen, Defeyter, Kennedy, Wesnes, & Scholey, 2006).
- A controlled study in Minnesota that provided a nutritious breakfast to primary-aged children found children who participated showed “better concentration, increased alertness and energy, and a decrease in stomach aches and headaches.” Other benefits included “a decrease in discipline problems, and benefits in social behaviour, attendance, and a general increase in math and reading scores” (Wahlstrom & Begalle, 1999).
- A Boston study that provided free breakfasts to children in public schools likewise found that among the children who consumed breakfast, there was a significant improvement in maths tests scores and a decrease in the number of days they were absent (Kleinman et al., 2002).
- Research consistently shows that children who do not have adequate food at home are likely to be more frequently absent or late to school than their peers, have lower academic achievement and poorer performance, especially in numeracy and literacy, and difficulty concentrating (Yates, et. al., 2010)
1. 2005 ‘A Rapid Review of the Literature on the Association Between Nutrition and School Pupil Performance’
2. Perry 2012 ‘Household Incomes in New Zealand’
3. 2011 ‘Does socio-economic background affect reading performance?’ OECD page 2.
4. July 2011 ‘Our hungry kids: 40,000 NZ kids fed by charities’ NZherald
5. July 2011 ‘Our hungry kids: 40,000 NZ kids fed by charities’ NZherald
6. 25/05/2011 J. Sutton ‘Breakfast may be off menu’
7. 28/06/2012 ‘Question for Written Answer 5025(2012)’ Parliament
8. KidsCan 2011 Annual Report
9. July 2012 School Roll, Ministry of Education
10. August 2012 ‘Education Solutions to Mitigate Child Poverty’ Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty pg.14
11. 2011 ‘Hunger for Learning’ Child Poverty Action Group Pg.37.
12. Compiled by Child Poverty Action Group 2011 ‘Hunger for Learning’
- The Education Review Office stated last week that students at some schools “have simply been forgotten amongst the daily business of ‘delivering’ education”.1
- National’s record in education is abysmal. From day one they have gone to war with the education sector. The result has been a series of distractions, ill-judged policies and back downs.
- They’ve been distracted by National Standards. The Government is spending $36 million on making National Standards work rather than making changes that will lift student achievement.2
- National promised to improve teacher quality but cut funding for teachers professional development by $15 million per year 3 and are now going down the opposite path by allowing unregistered and unqualified teachers into charter school classrooms.
- National tried to increase class sizes not once but twice. National intended to increase class sizes for new entrants in Budget 2009 as well as trying to increase class sizes in this year’s budget, both efforts resulted in embarrassing back downs.
- National’s U-turn on class sizes has left a $114 million hole in the education budget.4
- That will mean less funding for schools, support staff and resources next year.
- While public schools are struggling, National has spent an extra $35 million on subsidies for private schools.5
- National campaigned on getting tough on truancy, but truancy rates haven’t budged, with 29,000 students absent from school without reason each week.6
- Across 2009 and 2010 National halved the budget for Gifted and Talented Education, leaving some of our brightest students without extra support and extension in the classroom.7
1 ‘The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report’ Education Review Office, 29/08/2012
2 ‘National Standards the key to lifting achievement’ John Key, 23/09/2009
3 ‘Total Professional Development Expenditure’ Hon. Hekia Parata (Tabled in Parliament), 13/06/2012
4 ‘Teacher funding ratios to remain the same’ Hekia Parata, 07/06/12
5 Ministry of Education ‘Budget 2009: Education Initiatives’
6 ‘Attendance in New Zealand schools 2011’ Ministry of Education. Feb 2012, p 7
7 ‘Funds cut for gifted’ Auckland Now, 16/06/2010