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Gone by lunchtime - support to be axed

21 September 2004

Going going gone by lunchtime - support to be axed

National MP Bill English has finally admitted his party will not raise the education budget but instead he is promising to axe all the extra help teachers and schools get, Education Minister Trevor Mallard says.

"Dr Brash has finally imposed his will on Mr English because suddenly the dumped National party leader has conceded he would not put any more money into schools at all.

"Instead he's taking the "gone by lunchtime" approach of Dr Brash, and is promising to scrap professional development and curriculum support for schools. (Sunday Star Times, September 19) He wants to redirect that money into operational grants for boards of trustees to spend instead.

"I am not sure how Mr English thinks that boards of trustees can provide the same level of curriculum support or professional development that is provided currently in nationally co-ordinated programmes that involve thousands of teachers, benefiting thousands of students around New Zealand.

"Mr English wants to return to the bulkfunding era of the 1990s where boards had the responsibility for paying for the professional development for teachers. Guess what happened then - no professional development at all.

"But Mr English didn't care then, and obviously doesn’t care about that now. I am surprised because I've seen him support our government's goal of helping teachers to lift the quality of their teaching. How that is meant to happen without professional development is beyond me. I hope teachers seriously question him on this point when he addresses their conference tomorrow.

"For instance, thousands of teachers are benefiting from professional development aimed at improving how they teach maths, reading and writing, with the ultimate benefits of course going to the kids they teach.

"All that would be gone by lunchtime under National. There'll be no extra or targeted support for teachers and students. Schools wouldn't get any of the classroom resources or teaching materials that are provided now. There would be no laptops for teachers, there would be no programmes aimed at reducing truancy, no high speed internet access, no help for gifted children.

"The programmes that would fall under the cold sharp blade of National's axe include: Literacy and numeracy leadership professional development Principal's leadership and management development Professional development and advisory services Support for gifted and talented children Classroom resources like books or CDs or assessment tools and programmes ICT capability and eLearning professional development

Re-training support for those returning to teaching Support for lower decile primary schools participating in the numeracy projects Central purchase of Microsoft licences for schools Laptops for principals and secondary school teachers Access to high-speed (broadband) internet services Learning experiences outside the classroom Truancy management services and programmes to reduce suspension rates Rural education activities programme (REAP) Government support for the Books in Homes project School Arts Coordinators Sportsfit Coordinators

"Mr English has always been in a muddle over school funding. He has previously stated that schools were "awash with cash" but in recent weeks has attacked the government for underfunding schools, by using misleading figures that ignore billions of dollars of government grants and support. His muddle continues, and I predict that once he does his homework and realises what he is promising to axe, he will backtrack."


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