New Zealand Labour Party

Nice idea, but where's the detail Bill?

Equipping primary school children with a foreign language looks like a good idea on paper, but today’s promise by National is short on substance, says Labour Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

“If this was one of the few signature announcements from today’s National campaign launch, then voters have been short-changed.

“There’s just 27 days to the election and parents will want to know a fair bit more about the $160m foreign language plan than Bill English provided today.

“The Prime Minister has some critical questions to answer. What’s the timeline for introducing the language option? Where are the language teachers going to come from? Will they use trained teachers or unqualified foreign language speakers? How many are needed? Will there be new training for teachers wanting to upskill?

“We’ve been looking at a similar initiative and know there are huge challenges in finding skilled language teachers. There’s a critical shortage of teachers across the country, particularly in Auckland. That’s been aggravated by the Government’s failure to deal with the housing crisis.

“After nine years in government, today’s announcement is underwhelming. Voters deserved more,” says Chris Hipkins.