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Key launches literacy and numeracy crusade

John Key MP
National Party Leader

13 October 2008

Key launches literacy and numeracy crusade

National Party Leader John Key says providing New Zealand children with decent literacy and numeracy skills is an important priority for him, and is made all the more urgent in uncertain economic times.

"These children will be building the economy and communities we will be living in tomorrow. We must do far better to equip them for the more challenging times ahead, and to ensure they have the basic skills to secure their own and their families' futures.

"Around one in five leave school without NCEA Level 1, and many don't achieve even basic reading, writing and maths skills. Raising literacy and numeracy standards will be a critical goal of the next National Government."

Mr Key has today launched a crusade to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of young New Zealanders.

"New Zealand's top students are among the best in the world, but the gap between the best and the worst is growing."

According to a recent international reading literacy study, the literacy level of our 10-year-olds slipped from 13th in the world in 2001 to 24th in 2006.

"National believes that the first task of our education system should be to ensure that every child from every background can read, write, and do maths at a level that allows them to participate in a modern economy.

"We will launch a Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. And because parents want to know how their child is doing, we'll introduce national education standards to help identify those pupils who are falling behind, and provide targeted funding to help them catch up."

Mr Key says there are 10 first steps that National will take as part of its Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. National will:

1. Set National Standards in literacy and numeracy. 2. Require every primary and intermediate school pupil to be assessed regularly against National Standards. 3. Require primary and intermediate schools to report to parents in plain English about how their child is doing compared to National Standards and compared to other children their age. 4. Provide targeted funding to assist primary and intermediate schools to give an extra hand to the pupils who aren't meeting National Standards. 5. Refocus the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office on supporting schools in the Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. 6. Provide additional support to underperforming schools to ensure their students are on track to achieve National Standards. 7. Get tough on truancy by prosecuting parents of persistent truants and giving schools extra resources to crack down on truants. 8. Give schools additional assistance for dealing with disruptive pupils. 9. Support teaching excellence by reviewing teacher training, encouraging schools to co-operate to expand successful teaching methods, celebrating the success of top-performing teachers, and supporting reductions in pupil to teacher ratios in new entrant classes. 10. Improve special education services by increasing ORRS funding for students with the highest special education needs, expanding special education schools, and encouraging satellite special education schools.

These initiatives will be funded from within the allocation for new spending in future budgets of $1.75 billion that was outlined by the Government in the PREFU, and which National has adopted in its fiscal policy.

Mr Key says National will allocate $47 million of additional funding to schools per year to aid in the literacy and numeracy crusade, including $18 million a year for targeted funding of pupils who aren't meeting National Standards.

"Schools will have the option of using this targeted funding as they see fit. They might work with other schools to hire a specialist literacy or numeracy teacher, pay for remedial classes at a specialist provider, expand their reading recovery programme, or provide professional development to teachers in dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties that might be interfering with a child's progress towards National Standards.

"Continuing to allow our children to fail is not an option.

"National will provide schools with resources, arm parents with knowledge, direct agencies to focus on results, and thus give our children the future they deserve."


To view details of Literacy and Numeracy Crusade visit: pdf

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