29 Jan 2008
John Key needs to do his homework – PPTA
John Key’s State of the Nation speech shows the National Party leader needs to do some serious homework on the educational programmes already available, PPTA president Robin Duff says.
Mr Key’s “Youth Guarantee” completely ignored initiatives such as the secondary schools Gateway Programme, which offers senior secondary students structured workplace learning through educational institutions, more than 50 industries and hundreds of New Zealand businesses, Mr Duff said.
“Mr Key’s plans will only serve to wreck collaborative programmes that already work and have been shown to be very successful,” he said.
The Youth Guarantee is a plan to provide a universal education entitlement that would give all 16 and 17-year-olds free access to a programme of study towards school-level qualifications. It claims to allow students access to education at other providers such as a polytechnic, wananga or private training establishment if it could better meet their needs than a school.
Mr Duff believed this plan was naïve because it did not take into account the enormous amount of support and guidance needed by the young people it was targeting.
“As critics of similar policies have rightly pointed out, most of these young people have been struggling with school for 12 years, they need intensive help and support or they will simply slip through the cracks,” he said.
“Mr Key also
misunderstands how the tertiary funding for STAR (Secondary
Tertiary Alignment Resource)/Gateway works.
Secondary students are not paying $4000 for polytechnic courses. All training and workplace options are funded through the programme,” Mr Duff said.
“The call for students not interested in conventional school subjects to be given access to basic trade skills courses and the need for intensive reading and writing help is also being addressed through the Gateway programme.
“Mr Key needs to go back to school on this one, he needs to take a close look at the regions where schools, polytechnics, employers and ITOs (Industry Training Organisations) are all working together to provide real opportunities for young people,” Mr Duff said.
While the stated intention of the policy might be good, what Mr Key had proposed as a solution was a triumph of hope over experience, he said.
“International evidence plus research from NZCER (New Zealand Council for Educational Research), along with the evaluation of the very successful New Zealand Gateway programme all confirm that the students are best off if they are based in a secondary school where they are monitored and supervised while undertaking training programmes and work experience,” he said.