Education & Training

Labour is 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. We’re also extending support for trades training programmes that see tens of thousands of Kiwis in jobs and training, helping accelerate our economic 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 supporting New Zealanders to learn and upskill, as well as ensuring we have the workforce needed to build back better. We’ve already seen more than 190,000 New Zealanders taking up our free trades training and apprenticeships, and we’ve announced an extension to the Apprenticeship Boost scheme which will see a further 38,000 Kiwis supported into a trade. More than 3,580 young people have been supported into employment, education or training through He Poutama Rangatahi. Our successful Mana in Mahi programme has supported a further 4,700 young Kiwis into work and training. We’ve boosted funding to support thousands of Māori and Pāsifika people to gain skills and work, and we’ve brought back the Training Incentive Allowance, supporting people to retrain, gain skills, and transition into new careers. We’re also improving access to driver license testing and training to help around 64,000 Kiwis, which will remove barriers and open up more job opportunities.

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 our School Investment Package.

Boosting support for students

We understand that kids learn in different ways, and have different 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 funded additional support for kids with complex needs – as well as deaf, hard-of-hearing, and low-vision students. We’ve expanded and enhanced school-based health services to reach over 96,000 students across 300 schools. Also, the expansion of our Mana Ake programme will see further in-school mental health and wellbeing support available to Kiwi kids across the country, because it’s important that kids know it’s OK to ask for help, and that help is there when they need it.

Lifting student achievement

We must do better for our kids - that’s why we’re rolling out a plan to ensure they are getting the education they deserve. We’ve delivered $88 million to make schools a place where all young people want to be, with a focus on increased support for students and improving attendance. We’ve also worked with teachers, parents and experts to develop strategies to improve learning across areas like maths and literacy over the next five years.

Ensuring we know our history

We’ve committed to New Zealand history being taught in schools and kura from the beginning of next year. This will ensure that all young people will grow up understanding key aspects of Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and how they have influenced and shaped our nation.

Making going to school cheaper

We’re easing the pressure on families and making sure children can get a great education with less stress. We’ve funded the removal of school donations and NCEA fees, and we’re rolling out free period products in schools – reducing barriers to education. We’ve also introduced healthy, free lunches in schools, which has already delivered more than 45 million lunches to Kiwi kids, giving them the energy to learn.

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.

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.

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 brought back Government funding for adult night classes, to give New Zealanders more opportunities to learn. We also provided financial support for tertiary students during COVID, to help ease the pressure so they could continue their studies.

View more key achievements

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.