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Education & Training

We’re making sure every child can get a great education and more Kiwis can access training and study. We’re building a stronger, fairer education system, upgrading classrooms and schools around the country, and providing retraining opportunities to support our COVID recovery.

Here are just some of the ways we’re making sure our education and training systems are working for all New Zealanders:

Supporting people to upskill

We’re helping more New Zealanders get the training they need. We made apprenticeships and targeted trades training free, supporting people to upskill and ensuring we have the workforce to secure our recovery. Already, more than 100,000 people have accessed free trades training since we introduced it in July 2020. We’re providing businesses with up to $16,000 to help pay the cost of apprentices for the first two years. We’ve launched and expanded Mana in Mahi, to further assist employers to take on apprentices, and we’ve supported around 2,000 rangatahi Māori into employment, education, or training through He Poutama Rangatahi. Budget 2021 boosted funding to Tupu Aotearoa to support thousands of Pāsifika people to gain skills and work, and it’s bringing back the Training Incentive Allowance, supporting people to retrain, gain skills, and transition into new careers.

Building better classrooms

We’re making sure our young people have modern, fit-for-purpose spaces to learn in, while supporting local jobs. We’re building new schools and classrooms for 100,000 students, and upgrading almost every state school in the country through the School Investment Package.

Boosting support for students

We know not all kids learn the same or have the same needs. That’s why we’ve introduced learning support coordinators in schools to better support up to 300,000 children with diverse learning needs. We’ve also funded additional support for kids with complex needs – as well as deaf, hard-of-hearing, and low-vision students. The expansion of our Mana Ake programme will make in-school mental health and wellbeing support available to more Kiwi kids across the country, ensuring tamariki and rangatahi have trusted kaimahi to talk to.

Ensuring we know our history

We’ve committed to having New Zealand history taught in all schools and kura by 2022, answering growing calls from Kiwis to know more about our past and our identity.

Making going to school cheaper

We’re easing the pressure on families by scrapping NCEA fees and increasing funding so many schools don’t have to ask for donations. We’ve introduced healthy, free lunches in schools, which will feed more than 200,000 students across the country by the end of 2021, and we’re introducing free period products in all schools and kura.

Teaching te reo

To reach our goal of a million Kiwis speaking te reo Māori by 2040, we’ve boosted funding for te reo Māori initiatives in schools while growing the number of reo Māori teachers, and increased funding for Kōhanga Reo. Our Te Ahu o te Reo Māori initiative is also empowering our education workforce so that all ākonga in Aotearoa can have te reo included in their learning.

Backing Kiwi teachers

We know how hard teachers work, and we’re working hard to make sure they have more time to do what they do best: inspiring the next generation. We scrapped the National Standards to give teachers more time with students, and the curriculum refresh we’ve announced seeks to reduce teacher workload by providing greater clarity and guidance. We’re also making sure teachers are paid fairly. We’ve delivered pay equity for teacher aides and have provided the largest pay increase in a decade for primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers. Now, we’re working towards pay parity between teachers in early childhood education and care centres and their counterparts in schools and kindergartens.

Bringing uni within reach

We’re making higher education more accessible. We’ve boosted student loans and allowances by $79 a week and made the first year of study fees free. We’ve also brought back government funding for adult night classes, to give New Zealanders more opportunities to learn.

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.