UnitedFuture releases education policy
Thursday, 17 July 2008
UnitedFuture releases education policy
UnitedFuture today released its education policy, which spokeswoman Judy Turner says is comprehensive, inclusive and will enable universal access to all levels of education.
"We must ensure that qualifications are robust and well respected and that both the country as a whole and the individual gets value for their commitment to learning, from early childhood and beyond," says Mrs Turner, herself a former teacher.
"UnitedFuture supports the idea that 3 and 4 year olds should have 20 hours of early childhood education per week heavily subsidised, and we will include Playcentre, KÃhanga Reo and Pacific Language nests in this policy as well as teacher-led centres.
"We are pushing to drop the teacher/pupil ratio for Year 1 Students to 1:15, that Years 2 & 3 be progressively dropped to 1:22 and Years 4-8 progressively dropped to 1:25," says Mrs Turner.
UnitedFuture supports many of the recommendations of the New Zealand Association of Middle Schools (NZAIMS) and supports ongoing investment and development of middle years schooling in New Zealand, to better meet the needs of emerging adolescents in years 7-10.
"We would ensure that all schools implement an integrated character education and civics programme. Character Education is about incorporating universal values such as honesty, respect for others and the law, tolerance, fairness, caring and social responsibility into a schools culture.
"We also desperately need to address the growing achievement gap between male and female students. It has been ignored and trivialised for far too long.
"UnitedFuture also believes in a universal living allowance for tertiary students. We have dropped the age from 25 to 24 in the latest budget for parental income testing of students, and we will continue to push for further drops until it gets to 18."
Other key education policies announced by UnitedFuture today include:
Increased funding for early identification of children with special needs and disabilities with targeted systematic, intensive and high quality interventions.
Pilot the use of early childhood education centres as contact points for family support services, such as parenting courses, budget advice, health and counselling services.
Fund support staff salaries separately from schools general operations grant, and improve funding for ICT.
Significantly increase funding to the Ongoing Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS). Currently 1% of students receive some ORRS funding even though we know that one in five New Zealander's have some sort of disability.
Introduce more management units into primary schools to reflect the additional responsibilities beyond the walls of their classroom that many teachers carry out. This will also help develop leadership skills amongst teachers.
On the topic of NCEA, UnitedFuture offers some specific, constructive solutions to the problems besetting NCEA:
Have a minimum number of standards for each subject that must be externally assessed.
Look at initiatives to address the problem of boys continuing to fall behind girls in achievement and completion rates for NCEA
Establish consistent policies across schools for internal and external reassessment opportunities.
Review the appropriateness of the three achievement grades to consider a more graduated grading system.
UnitedFuture also supports raising the school leaving age as long as it is accompanied by a range of options for students to use their years 12 and 13 for more career focused learning options like trade training and as long as students capable of moving on to tertiary opportunities during those years are not blocked from doing so.
The full UnitedFuture education policy in PDF format available at: http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/default,788,education.sm