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1:15 teacher-pupil ratio for new entrants

25 August 2005

1:15 teacher-pupil ratio for new entrant school classes under Labour

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today that Labour will ensure that by 2008 there will be no more than 15 children in new entrant classes in primary school.

"Labour is committed to ensuring that every single child has the chance to receive a good start to their education. Just as we are investing heavily in making sure Kiwi kids can access quality and affordable early childhood education, so we also want to ensure they have a strong beginning to their schooling as well," Helen Clark said at the launch of Labour's schools policy at Avondale Primary School in Christchurch today.

"Our government will put around 1,300 extra primary teachers into new entrants' classes to ensure that by 2008 there are no more than 15 students in those classes, compared to the 1:23 ratio which is in place now. The policy is estimated to build to a cost of around $80 million a year by 2008.

"The transition to school is one of the most critical points in a child's development. We need to take every step to make it as stress-free as possible.
Smaller class sizes in the first year are shown to have lasting benefits for a child's learning right through school and beyond. Small classes - in which the teacher has the time to focus on a child's individual needs - will help make the foundation for learning even stronger."

Trevor Mallard said that the new policy sat alongside other crucial work that Labour was doing in education to continue to lift the quality of education and standards for children across the board.

"There are many other factors which lead to success for kids at school, including quality early childhood education (leading to 'preparedness' to learn), high quality teaching, strong literacy and numeracy programmes in the early years, and good links between school and family. Labour has already put strong policies in place in all these areas and will strengthen them further through this 2005 schools policy.

"New Zealand already has a world-class education system. Our children are among the top in the world in reading and maths, and we are committed to making our education system even stronger," Trevor Mallard said.

Other initiatives under Labour's new schools policy include:

- Extension of the highly successful reading and writing initiatives already in place

- Ensuring a strong focus for education of teacher trainees on literacy, numeracy and information communications technology teaching skills

- Negotiating with internet providers to offer schools the option of a "bulk deals" price for internet charges

- Fund a high profile education information programme for families and communities to help increase their involvement in and support for children's education
- Increase and improve teacher professional development

- Complete the implementation of the Schools Staffing Review Group recommendations on teachers in schools.

- More support for recruitment and retention of teachers

- Continue the improvements to NCEA

- Investigate and review, with the schools sector, the level of operational funding

The full schools policy, fact sheet and questions and answers about the new entrants policy are attached.

ENDS

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