Education (Primary and Secondary)

Alliance Party Education Policy (Primary and Secondary)

Preamble

  • The Alliance agrees with Charles Beeby who once wrote that that government’s goal for education must be for all people, whatever their academic ability, whether they be rich or poor, whether they live in town or country, to have the right to a free education of a kind that best suits their needs and potential. We would add this is true whether they are brown or white.

  • While we have free education in theory in our primary and secondary schools, the reality is different with parents being asked to pay ‘subject fees’ and ‘voluntary’ donations – around 37% of the total cost of schools. This excludes the children of the poor from full participation.

  • Schools have been under-resourced since responsibility was pushed onto local communities under Tomorrow’s Schools. As a result, teachers and principals have been overwhelmed with administration work that has taken away from their teaching.

  • The Alliance will properly resource schools to do the job they are set up for: educate the children of New Zealand.

We stand for the following policies

  • Free education: Full funding of the public education system from early childhood to tertiary level; eliminate school fees.

  • Reduce class sizes: Maximum class sizes of 20 in all primary and secondary schools, with a focus on the first three years of schooling and low-decile schools; reduce teacher/pupil ratios for children with special needs (e.g. hearing or vision impairment).

  • Centralise funding of salaries and other needs: No bulk funding of schools; inevitably the funding is not enough and has to be supplemented by parents; schools in poor communities are left with few resources and must depend on parents’ and teachers’ goodwill.

  • School support staff: Pay support staff centrally, not out of operational grants, as they can’t compete with the many funding imperatives of schools to get the recognition they deserve.

  • Support for schools: Provide more expert assistance and support to schools from the Ministry of Education, and ensure that schools have the resources and teachers to address the ‘tail’ of failure in low-income areas; beef up the resources and teacher training to cater for immigrant children.

  • Fee paying foreign students: Fund schools properly so they don’t have to rely on recruitment of overseas students to plug the gaps; this has widened the disparity between the facilities and equipment of schools in wealthy and poor areas which find it difficult to attract fee-paying students.

  • NCEA: Address the workload issues of teachers struggling to cope with multiple assessments.

  • Special education: Put in place individual resource packages for children with special needs; reward schools that welcome special needs children by linking funding to the number enrolled.

  • Private schools: Eliminate public funding for private schools; the money saved should be put back into the public sector to offset the loss of school fees.

  • Suspensions: Protect students’ right to a fair process with an independent appeal process (such as as education ombudsman); support teachers in dealing with challenging behaviours; introduce programmes that promote peaceful resolution of conflicts.

  • School closures and reorganisation: Recognise the role of schools in local communities; ensure that parents and communities are listened to when local schools are closed or reorganised; ensure that parents are involved in determining the future viability of the Correspondence School.