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Labour are backing teachers and building a stronger, fairer education system

In the first two years of our term in Government, we gave teachers record pay rises as a way of recognising the lack of adequate adjustments over the previous decade and the significant role they play in the lives of children and young people. We also increased the number of teachers in the country by 2,000.

Our education policy is all about reducing inequalities and making education and training more accessible than ever before. Read below for five key ways we’ll improve our education system in our second term.


We’ll roll out free, healthy school lunches to a quarter of all school children.

Since we came into Government, we’ve rolled out the Free and Healthy School Lunch programme to thousands of children in New Zealand - because we know that children learn better on a full stomach. In our second term, we will expand the Free and Healthy School Lunch programme to cover 200,000 students in 2021. This will mean that 1 in 4 school aged children will have access to a free healthy lunch every day, while creating around 2,000 jobs along the way.  

We’ll target the expansion to schools with the highest level of disadvantage, helping to level the playing field by giving more students the energy and nutrition they need to learn right through the school day. 

Free and healthy school lunches are just one of the ways we can reduce inequalities and make an immediate difference to the lives of Kiwi kids as we continue our work to tackle child poverty.


We’ll get rid of the decile system, and use the Equity Index instead.

The current decile system for schools and early learning services is blunt and outdated. A Labour Government will scrap the decile system and replace it with the Equity Index.

The Equity Index assesses the level of disadvantage by considering the circumstances of individual children, rather than the school’s broader neighbourhood, to assess the needs of the  whole student population. It means we can target the resources to our most disadvantaged students and communities. 

We want every child to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We know there is more to do to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child, but this is a huge step towards addressing the inequities children face in our public education system.


We’ll make all apprenticeships (and many trades training courses) free.

We’re continuing to remove barriers Kiwis face getting into work by providing free access to all apprenticeships and to many trades training courses for the next two years, saving tens of thousands of people between $2,500 and $6,000 a year, and making it easier for them to gain skills and employment.

The policy will also mean businesses have a reliable pipeline of apprentices and trainees. It’s a win-win-win investment: learners gain new skills and better job opportunities, employers get access to a more skilled workforce for big projects, and New Zealand gets a boost for key building and infrastructure projects as we rebuild from COVID-19.

We’ll also continue to provide temporary financial assistance for employers to retain and support their apprentices, and continue our reform of the Vocational Education system, to make sure we have a vocational education system that listens to the needs of industry and learners.


We’ll keep closing the pay gap between teachers in early childhood education and care centres.

By far the most important asset in New Zealand’s education system is our teachers. Great teachers not only hold a special, sometimes lifelong, place in the memories of their students, they can also have a lifelong impact on their prospects too. In order to ensure we have the best and brightest guiding our children through these important years, we will continue to work towards pay parity between teachers in education and care centres and their counterparts in schools and kindergartens.

This policy builds off the work we did in the first two years of our term in Government, where we gave teachers record pay rises to recognise the work they do and address the lack of adequate adjustments over the previous decade. The lowest paid education and care teachers have already received a pay boost to bring them in line with kindergarten teachers’ pay from 1 July this year. 

We’re committed to reducing inequalities in education for students and teachers alike. If re-elected, Labour will ensure all 17,000 teachers working in education and care centres are paid what they deserve.


We’ll continue building more classrooms, upgrading schools, and making New Zealand a great place to learn.

We’ve already put in place initiatives to make schooling more affordable, school buildings more modern and to give parents the assurance that our schools are well equipped to prepare our kids for the challenges ahead. 

Our education plan for the next three year’s builds on the gains we’ve made in our first term in Government and is focussed on five key objectives; putting learners at the centre; creating barrier free access to education; increasing quality teaching and learning; preparing Kiwis for the the future of learning and work; and delivering world class inclusive public education. 

We have a proud record of funding increases in education to meet cost pressures. If re-elected, we’re committed to boosting funding to keep our education system strong and accessible, to continue to improve the wellbeing of students and to lift the achievement levels of all students as we rebuild from COVID-19.


Read more about our plans for education, including a copy of the full policy here.

Want to know more about Labour’s policies? Head here to find all the information you need to cast your vote on 17 October, and back us on Election Day with two ticks for Labour.

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