Hon. Tracey Martin, our guest blogger today, writes in her capacity as Member of Parliament and education spokesperson for New Zealand First.
What our society has asked, and indeed demanded, of our public education system continues to change. New Zealand First believes that it is time to have an education summit; a forum for robust discussion between all stakeholders after 25 years of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools” that includes the voice of students, parents and caregivers, support staff, teachers, school leaders and school trustees.
Our national curriculum document provides our teachers and learners with wide success criteria but current government policy has narrowed the definition of success to the detriment of learners. We believe that “success for Kiwi kids as Kiwi kids” needs to be identified, agreed and implemented. We, politicians, parents and community leaders, need to return to a high-trust model partnering with the people in and around our classrooms and school grounds who share the responsibility for educating our children.
New Zealand First believes that all students need to be literate and numerate but does not believe that the black and white National Standards imposed on our primary school children are fit for purpose. We would like to see the aspiration removed by the current government when they removed the “well above” target and extension put back into our education system. Our national curriculum has identified curriculum achievement levels that are progressive and overlapping – children are not expected to achieve at the same level at the same time. Discussion on refocussing data collection, analysis and reporting using these levels would be part of any educational summit.
New Zealand First would “front end the spend”.
New Zealand First is concerned that the Ministry does not require nor collect data around the numbers of students who schools have identified as being in the top academic band. To simply have a cohort that is ‘Above’ this government’s current literacy and numeracy lines is not good enough if we are committed to raising the achievement of students at both ends of the learning continuum i.e., special needs and gifted & talented.
New Zealand First questions why the Ministry of Education is not collecting baseline data that clearly identifies the learning needs of brand new ‘schoolies’ – every new entrant teacher in the country would be able to tell you who needs extra support and who needs extension.
New Zealand First would review the implementation of the operations grant with a view to increasing it and creating a separate funding structure for support staff. A review of how ORS, SLS, special needs and special abilities learners are funded is timely to ensure that there are no barriers to using highly experienced and skilled support staff in the delivery of teacher aide support hours. New Zealand First would seek to establish tagged funding for student extension and enrichment alongside establishing nationwide teacher professional development in the area of high ability and gifted students.
New Zealand First has developed policy platforms that would directly address skills workforce planning so that New Zealanders of top talent can be retained and find appropriate reward right here at home. It is our view that the New Zealand education system needs to be supported and geared toward creating New Zealand entrepreneurs, not just employees.