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We’d Give Choice A Tick

17 July 2002

“We’d Give Choice A Tick”, Say The Majority Of Political Parties

“Four political parties support promoting choice in education this election,” said Joy Quigley, Executive Director of Independent Schools of New Zealand, “while two more support at least the current level of state funding for independent schools. Only two are opposed to any state funding for independent schools in the compulsory sector.”

The Independent Schools of New Zealand (ISNZ) has recently released a focus sheet on the political parties’ policies on independent schooling for this election.

“ACT and Christian Heritage are firm supporters of education vouchers that would enable parents to use their child’s share of the education vote at the school of their choice. National and United support a level of state funding to ensure independent schools remain viable while New Zealand First supports inflation adjusting the current “capped policy” introduced by Labour in 2000,” said Joy Quigley.

“Only the Alliance and the Progressive Coalition remain ideologically opposed to state funding of independent schools while the Green Party supports alternative schools where the public system cannot provide appropriate diversity.”

“ISNZ welcomes this level of political party support for independent schools based on promoting excellence and diversity as well as recognising fairness and equity. Children do develop their skills and potential to a higher level when they are happy in a school that best meets their learning needs,” said Joy Quigley. “And every New Zealand resident child supported by New Zealand taxpaying families deserves taxpayer support for their compulsory education. In their preschool and tertiary years funding is not governed by who owns the buildings or controls the governance or management structure of their institution and so it should be in the compulsory sector.”

“ISNZ is very pleased to see that the majority of political parties support these views at least to some extent, either philosophically, or pragmatically because it saves the taxpayer money.”

Current Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, acknowledged in Parliament last year that “... it is the view of the Government that it is cheaper to fund private schools than to integrate them or to have the children involved transfer to state schools. We also collect GST¡K The taxpayer is a net beneficiary of having private schools.’ Joy Quigley said that PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that the state saves at least $80 million per year through having independent schools and the principals and teachers of ISNZ members willingly contribute their expertise and experience to the wider education sector.

[N.B. The Focus sheet on Political Parties is attached.]

ACT NEW ZEALAND

- Believes independent schools have an important role to play in the future of New Zealand schooling.

- Would abolish school zoning and work towards parents taking their child’s share of government funding and use it on the school of their choice, whether it is state or privately owned.

- Would give schools greater flexibility to run their own affairs by bulk funding all schools.

- Would ensure competition, choice and high measurable standards so that schools could deliver the diversity and across-the-board excellence that is required to serve the diverse needs of the community.

CHRISTIAN HERITAGE

- Will introduce an education voucher system to enable state funds to be used at the school of the parents’ choice.

- Will encourage private educational initiatives so that all providers attaining approved standards would be eligible for registration and voucher redemption.

- Will allow individual schools to determine their own disciplinary procedures according to the wishes of the majority of the parents.

- Will increase the freedom of schools to develop their own curricula, in accordance with approved educational standards and make high standards of achievement in education a priority.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST

- Would maintain current level of funding in real terms, i.e. inflation adjusted.

- Would ensure independent schools had equal access to support services as state and state integrated schools.

- Would ensure that a level playing field exists between not-for-profit independent schools and state and state integrated schools in relation to local body charges.

NEW ZEALAND LABOUR

- Will continue with their 1999 election policy of providing a state grant to independent schools capped at the 2000 level of $40.179m, with the per capita amount reducing if independent school rolls increase.

- Will support integration where the provision of an additional state school would provide education in a community experiencing roll growth, with the Minister of Education retaining discretion over whether a private school can integrate.

- Will support school zoning to give children the right to attend their local school.

- Believes the intent of Tomorrow’s Schools was to give parents more rights, not to relieve the government of its responsibilities in education. Labour believes the Government has responsibility for governance over the network of schools and to set minimum standards while supporting initiatives to encourage innovation and high levels of achievement.

NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL

- Values the contribution made by independent schools. The reductions in subsidies by Government has been ideologically driven rather than child-focused. Ironically, independent schools are gaining pupils from the Government’s mismanagement of public education but for many parents this choice is unaffordable.

- Does not believe in discriminating against providers of education services simply because they are not Government controlled.

- Will increase over time the funding for independent schools to 50% of the equivalent entitlement of state schools.

- Will develop a new flexible approach to school governance including the option of becoming a “Trust School’.

- Will apply the new self-management funding model to all secondary, area and Years 7-13 schools from 1 January 2003 with an assurance that no school will lose funding with the change.

PROGRESSIVE COALITION

- Has the ultimate goal of free publicly funded early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education in recognition that education is an investment in a productive, healthy society for all.

- Recognises the right of parents to provide for the education of their children outside a free publicly funded sector and at tertiary level for example supports private courses where the qualification is in the public interest but unavailable through public institutions.

THE ALLIANCE

- Emphasises high quality state schooling for all. Funding given to private schools should be used to improve public schools. Public education will be free at all levels.

- Intends to boost funding for early start and special education to ensure that failure in the early years is eliminated. We support integration of special character schools that foster new talents among students. We uphold the right of every child to attend and receive a superior education at their local school. We like the current zoning regime and self-managing schools, as long as strong support for quality education is provided from the centre.

THE GREEN PARTY

- Supports a co-operative approach to developing Aotearoa New Zealand’s education policy and believes the independent schools need to be consulted as stakeholders in developing future directions in the education system.

- Has a priority for school funding to adequately fund state and integrated schools. Funding to state schools has decreased in real terms between 1989 and 1999. We want a robust public system that can ensure diverse and culturally appropriate educational options are available. Where the public system cannot provide appropriate diversity we will support schools that can cater for special interest groups, as long as they are able to deliver the minimum core curriculum, maintain high teaching standards and are open to all students where appropriate.

- Considers schools have a considerable degree of management autonomy at present. We oppose “self-management” as the idea being promoted under that name appears to simply be another name for bulk funding.

- Believes that all children should be able to attend their local school and we will ensure that school enrolment policies protect this right.

UNITED FUTURE

- Education should not be a state monopoly and therefore United Future fully supports the existence of independent schools. Such schools bring diversity into the educational system. They also provide parents with choice in deciding on their children’s schooling. United Future believes it is important that this right is available for families.

- United Future would strongly resist any proposed policy that threatened the viability of independent schools.

To widen parental choice in education United Future would reintroduce a more generous version of the targeted individual entitlement scheme.


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