I am excited to have another political blog in the 2015 #NZGAW Blog Tour so soon. This one comes from Chris Hipkins, who is Member of Parliament for Rimutaka and holder of the Education Portfolio for Labour. Thank you, Chris.
In the 1930s, Labour’s first Minister of Education, and subsequent Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Fraser set out a vision for education that is as relevant today as it was then:
“The government’s objective, broadly expressed, is that all persons, whatever their level of ability, whether they live in town or country, have a right as citizens to a free education of the kind for which they are best fitted and to the fullest extent of their powers.”
Fraser realised that we’re all unique, we have different talents and abilities, and we are all entitled to a quality public education that caters for that.
Too many of the contemporary debates about education presume that we’re all the same, that every child will learn the same things at the same times, and that the role of the education system is to turn out ‘standardised’ job-ready workers.
We need to take a far wider and more encompassing view of the role our education system can play than that. Education transforms lives. A great education can be the difference between a life of disadvantage and a life of happiness and prosperity.
By focussing our entire education system on ensuring that every child jumps over an arbitrary set of standards at a particular age the current government are selling our kids short.
Any child who isn’t achieving to their full potential is under achieving, and that means that gifted kids who are well ahead of the class could still be “under-achievers” if they aren’t being challenged and extended.
The Labour Party recognises the great diversity that exists within our education system. We want every child to be supported to achieve their individual and unique potential. We don’t need to spend more time constantly assessing and measuring, we know what needs to be done, let’s get on and do it.
Labour will re-establish the Gifted and Talented Advisory Board to advise on best practice and advocate on behalf of gifted kids. They will be given a ring-fenced budget for research and will be supported by a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Education.
We will also ring-fence funding for specific professional development programmes for teachers that are aimed at better supporting the needs of gifted learners, and we will restore funding for specific programmes like MindPlus.
Labour has a proven track record when it comes to supporting programmes for gifted and talented students, and we intend to pick up where we left off.
Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at http://giftededucation.ultranet.school.nz/WebSpace/1286/.