Education & Training

Labour is committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. A large part of this is making sure every child can get a great education. That’s why we’re committed to lifting the achievement levels of all students, providing opportunities for them to thrive and succeed.

Labour’s 2020 campaign policies

  • We're building a stronger, fairer education system by:
    • Significantly closing the pay gap for teachers working in education and care centres
    • Replacing the decile system with the Equity Index
    • Rolling out the Free and Healthy School Lunches programme to a quarter of all school-aged children
    • Targeting funding in areas such as trades training and apprenticeships in the post-COVID environment supported by the Reform of Vocational Education.
  • Head here for the full education policy. 

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to ensure every child can get a great education and provide opportunities for training or retraining to support the COVID recovery. That’s why we’re:

  • Boosting the apprenticeship and trades training to help people upskill and retrain, often for free in the next two years, and partnering with industry to fill skills gaps
  • Helping young people gain entry requirements to access trades training and providing support for them to stay in training and employment
  • Bringing back night classes, which were slashed by the previous National Government, and providing funding for courses to better support people displaced from work and facing barriers to entering the labour market, and people experiencing social isolation.

Labour will continue to rebuild or upgrade hundreds of classrooms across the country, on top of the more than 1,100 new or upgraded classrooms we’ve already delivered, including a number of whole school rebuilds and expansions, to cater for roll growth in coming years.

Labour will continue to encourage rangatahi into work and training through our Mana in Mahi scheme, which is already helping around 2,000 young people get skills to kickstart their career.

Labour will continue to reform New Zealand’s vocational education sector to ensure it can respond well to skills shortages and prepare for the changing labour market, particularly as we rebuild from COVID-19. The world of work is changing, and the way we learn needs to adapt to stay ahead of these changes. It’s never been more important to have a system that is responsive to the future of work.

Labour’s achievements to date

During the COVID crisis

When New Zealand went into lockdown, the Government moved quickly to ensure students could continue learning from home. We:

  • Funded two television channels to broadcast education-related content – one for English and Māori students, including content that is targeted to Pacific and other communities
  • Increased the number of students who have internet access and devices
  • Made changes to NCEA to make sure this year’s students weren’t disadvantaged

We announced a student support package to help tertiary students continue their studies, including immediate support through the increase in course-related costs from $1,000 to $2,000.

Before the COVID crisis

Many of our school buildings are old and need upgrading. That’s why we funded a one-off cash injection of up to $400,000 to fast track school upgrades for almost every state school in New Zealand. It’s the biggest capital injection for school maintenance in at least 25 years.

We reduced costs to families and whānau by providing $150 per child to schools who don’t ask parents for donations benefiting the families of over 416,000 students, and by removing NCEA exam fees benefiting more than 145,000 households.

New Zealanders have been calling to know more about our history and identity, so we decided that New Zealand history will be taught in all schools and kura by 2022.

Kids can’t learn on an empty stomach, which is why we launched and expanded our Lunch in Schools programme, which will feed 200,000 kids across the country when fully rolled out in 2021.

Since we came into Government, we’ve also:

  • Boosted student loans and allowances by $50 a week
  • Boosted funding for te reo Māori initiatives in schools, and funded a number of initiatives to ensure te reo Māori is accessible and there are enough reo Māori teachers
  • Funded more than 600 new Learning Support Coordinators, and funded support for Kiwi kids with complex needs, as well as deaf and hard-of-hearing and low-vision students