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Schools Policy - Labour’s Vision

25 August 2005

Schools Policy - Labour’s Vision

Labour believes that every New Zealander is entitled to access quality public education of the highest standard, throughout their lives. Quality education ensures that every Kiwi, regardless of who they are and where they come from, can achieve their full potential and contribute to New Zealand's society and economy.

Labour’s dream is for every student to fulfil their potential through education - and it’s a dream that every family has for their children. To achieve that dream, we have to strive for excellence.

For excellence to flourish, we need outstanding teachers that keep refining their teaching strategies to achieve excellent outcomes, schools with the leadership and resources to make that focus on excellence possible and families able to be engaged with their children’s education.

Labour's Achievements

Our schools have more money, more teachers and more teaching and learning ‘tools’ than ever before. Operations grant funding has increased 30% since 1999 (14.4% when adjusted for roll growth and inflation). There are more than 3,000 extra teachers in our classes.

That means smaller classes and more non-contact time for teachers – making time spent in the classroom better quality. Every school in the country now has access to high-speed internet, and over 25,500 teachers and principals have received laptops. The new Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (AsTTLe) are helping to give teachers more information about the learning needs of pupils, and therefore making teaching more effective.

Teaching and Learning Outcomes By international standards, New Zealand children do well. We are among the leading countries in the OECD for literacy and maths.

Clearly we don’t shrink from pushing our best and brightest to their limits, yet it’s only by unlocking all talents that we can build a progressive future. Despite our international standing, there is still a big gap between our top and bottom achievers. We can do better for both of these groups.

You're better off with Labour 1 Schools Policy That’s why, in government, Labour has invested in improving learning outcomes with a range of initiatives. We have gone ‘back to basics’. In 2004 alone, we invested $55 million specifically in boosting literacy and numeracy learning – and the positive results are beginning to show. Initiatives like the Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (AsTTle) programme, that provides teachers with more information about the learning needs of their students at primary school level, are also bearing fruit and have recently been expanded to cover years 9 and 10.

In addition, research tells us that the quality of teaching is the single biggest determinant of learning success – so Labour has invested in more teachers, paying them better and giving them the ongoing professional development to keep growing their skills. Still, there is more to be done: Labour's Priorities for the next term

Beginning teacher training: During our next term in government, Labour will:

Make the core competencies such as literacy, numeracy, verbal communication skills (including pronunciation), special needs teaching, teaching of children from diverse backgrounds and ICT, a compulsory requirement for all teacher-training programmes.

Create stringent entry and exit criteria for teacher trainees, ensuring that only those with the attributes necessary for teaching can get in to training courses and only those who come out with a high degree of competence in beginning teaching will have their qualification awarded.

Ensure teacher education is provided by people who are actively involved in research, so graduates emerge with a thorough knowledge and understanding of current pedagogy, curriculum and theories of teaching and learning.

Focus initial teacher training on subject and year-level areas of greatest need and provide incentives to train in shortage areas, not in areas that are already over supplied.

Ongoing teacher professional development During our next term in government, Labour will:

Create increased professional learning opportunities for teachers and an expectation that principals will work with teachers to develop Individual Education Plans for staff.

Introduce paid sabbaticals for teachers for full implementation by 2010.

You're better off with Labour Schools Policy

Pilot a teacher mentor scheme in the senior secondary school, partnering teachers with business leaders, so teacher understanding of the world in which their learners will work is enhanced, and employers grow in their understanding of what teaching can deliver. 􀂉

Create stronger career paths for aspiring and beginning principals to help keep the best and brightest professional leaders in our schools. 􀂉

Establish new career pathways, underpinned by improved professional development to support delivery of the secondary curriculum. 􀂉

Ensure the New Zealand Teachers Council focuses on professional development for teachers, now that it has a robust process in place for handling disciplinary issues. 􀂉

Create an inter-school dialogue and ongoing professional development to support and improve NCEA. 􀂉

Develop end-of-career options in order that skills are retained and utilised most effectively and there are enhanced provisions relating to long service for those who need to exit the profession. 􀂉

Improve the co-ordination of school advisory support services, to enhance the ability to meet the professional development needs from both government initiatives and schools-specific projects.

Staffing

During our next term in government, Labour will: 􀂉

Employ around 1,300 extra primary teachers in Year 1 classes over the next three years to ensure that by 2008 there are no more than 15 students in a class. 􀂉

Carry out further research on the effect of class size on learning outcomes in other junior school years. 􀂉

Work towards full implementation of the School Staffing Review Group and Ministerial Taskforce on Secondary Teacher Remuneration. 􀂉

Continue to implement existing teacher supply and hard-to-staff initiatives such as the Teach NZ scholarships and the Teach NZ promotional campaign, relocation and return-to-teaching grants, and the appointment of recruitment brokers. 􀂉

Develop solutions to address the additional time requirement of school-based assessment including special consideration for small, isolated schools, single-teacher departments and middle managers in larger schools

- Foster collaboration between schools to maximise opportunities for joint use of staffing and/or programmes, where benefits to teaching and learning could result (e.g. combining small subject groups to create viable classes).

Improve information held by the Ministry of Education about optimal use and best practice, with regard to the role and equitable employment of support staff to better inform policy decision making.

Curriculum

During our next term in government, Labour will:

- Extend the highly successful numeracy and literacy initiatives to reinforce the significant gains in the foundation skills of young students.

- Foster and expand nation-wide state-funded mentoring schemes, including those that help young people teach other young people. They will be focussed both on literacy and on secondary school retention and progression.

- Ensure schools appoint special English tutors for ESOL programmes to enable fee-paying international students, if enrolled, to achieve the standards required of the NZ curriculum.

- Encourage the teaching of civics and New Zealand history within the social studies curriculum.

- Encourage multi-language learning from intermediate school level, to ensure students have more opportunities in an ever more globalised world.

- Explore the possibility of second language learning for primary aged children, including fostering teaching and learning of Pasifika languages.

Work to encourage thematic learning rather than presenting curriculum barriers that fragment learning.

- Use the process flowing from the curriculum stocktake to manage the increasing demand for new subjects to be offered in schools, such as civics, nutritional and environmental education.

At risk and Transitions

During our next term in government, Labour will:

Undertake research into the middle years of schooling (years 7 to 10) to establish what factors help and hinder later engagement in higher secondary school education.

- Ensure that ongoing support and training is put in place for school staff and boards of trustees, to support the regulations requiring that students are not suspended or excluded from participating fully in their local school.

- Develop a strategy to stop bullying in schools to be implemented in all schools with particular emphasis on primary schools.


You're better off with Labour Schools Policy

- Continue work on improving transition points between stages of schooling to ensure children do not fall through the cracks as they move between stages of their schooling.

Explore the introduction of Youth Apprenticeships, which enable school students to gain credit toward trade qualifications, for work carried out while still in the school environment.

Rigorous Standards

High achievement relies on high standards – of teaching, of assessment and of moderation.

During our next term in government, Labour will:

- Create stringent entry and exit criteria for teacher trainees, ensuring that only those with the attributes necessary for teaching can get in to training courses and only those who come out with a high degree of competence in beginning teaching will have their qualification awarded.

Continue the evolutionary improvement of the NCEA.

Change the working relationship between NZQA and teachers to create a co-operative and collaborative culture that is more open and responsive.

Encourage more assessment in the early years on problem solving and teamwork, in addition to assessment of literacy and numeracy.

Enhance the national moderation service

Well Resourced

Real choice in a school system is when every local school is sufficiently funded to provide high quality education to its pupils. As the economy has improved, the government has been able to invest back into top social priorities like health and education – and our schools have benefited.

Schools operations funding has now increased by over 30 per cent since 1999 (14.4% when adjusted for inflation and roll growth). As well as increasing schools' operational funding, schools have received an extra $111 million for things like information technology, software licences, and staff professional development, that schools would have otherwise had to find the money for out of their operational fund.

In addition we’ve invested further into schools' property. In 2004 alone, the last four hundred schools were rolled in to the five-year property programme. Between them, they received $100 million in funding to upgrade and modernise existing school buildings. All up, state non-integrated schools will have had
access to property funding worth more than $700 million in total. Despite this large injection of funds, we still need to do more. During our next term in government, Labour will:

Work with the school sector to investigate the operational needs of schools, the consequent adequacy of schools' resourcing and obtain recommendations for directions government could take to best resource schools

Monitor and seek ways of reducing compliance costs in schools.

- Assist schools to share ideas and best practice, as well as co-ordinate activities to make best use of operational expenditure.

- Negotiate with internet providers to offer schools the option of a "bulk deal" price for internet charges.

- Clarify the guidelines around school donations to ensure schools are not using pressure to get funds from parents.

- Increase the number of boarding bursaries, to remove financial barriers for rural students wanting to access education away from home.

- Reduce reliance on the practice of offering funding in contestable pools and use a system based on demonstrated need or roll-based funding where appropriate instead.

Retain the funding cap on private schools.

- Use the funding from completing code compliance work for property enhancement by re-injecting it into the five-year property programme.

- Improve access to training for Boards of Trustees by establishing a specific policy project to review the quantum of funding, delivery mechanisms and funding cycles.

Strengthened school-family links

Labour believes that families play a special role in their children’s education that no one else can play. Moreover, research clearly shows that parents who are involved in their children’s learning and who encourage their children to be the best they can be, make a real and positive difference to how children learn.

That’s why strengthening school family links, and links between schools and their communities is a growing focus for Labour. During our next term in government, Labour will:

- Implement a high profile Education Information Programme for Families and Communities (particularly parents) to increase their involvement and support in children’s learning. A feature of the programme will be a high profile
“education ambassador” to help connect people to the programme and its messages.

- Improve the co-ordination between government agencies by taking a ’whole of government’ rather than a piecemeal approach to school-family links, as well as improving the connection and relationship between schools and the Ministry of Education, Education Review Office and NZQA.

- Refine and extend transition programmes to stop children falling through the gaps at points of change in their education.

- Extension of the Home School Partnerships and other initiatives that encourage engagement of parents and the school community in student learning.

- Ensure appropriate and current careers advice is available to students, through their school careers counsellor, contracted assistance and/or the Careers Service.

Safe Learning Environments

Labour wants young people to grow up free from discrimination and prejudice against them or their families Labour will work with communities and educational institutions to ensure they are safe environments for all people.

During our next term in government Labour will:

- Ensure schools meet their legal obligations to provide safe learning environments for students, environments free of harassment and promote positive role models.

- Ensure comprehensive and consistent teaching of the health and sexuality curriculum and improved teacher education.

ENDS


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