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Adding new rungs to the ladder of opportunity

John Key MP National Party Leader

2 November 2008

Adding new rungs to the ladder of opportunity

"I am determined to ensure our school system helps every New Zealand child to climb the ladder of opportunity," says National Party Leader John Key in releasing his party's schools policy during a rally at Upper Hutt College.

"Our country can be proud to have some of the world's best teachers, schools, and pupils. But there is a tail of pupils, around one in five, who are slipping behind and who leave school without the qualifications and skills they need to succeed.

"Raising education standards will be a driving goal for a National-led Government.

"This priority is demonstrated by our commitment to increase education funding over the next three years."

Mr Key confirmed National's plans to make an additional allocation of $1.5 billion in the next Budget for new education operational spending over the next four years and to allocate $500 million in additional capital spending to boost National's 21st Century school building programme over the next three years.

"Under Labour too much education funding and control is tied up in the Ministry of Education and other education bureaucracies.

"National will focus on the front line. We will increase funding for schools and rein in the form-filling and bureaucracy currently smothering schools and teachers.

"We will ensure parents have more information about how their child and school are doing, and have more of a say about how they are educated.

"National will further increase families' education choices by expanding some popular schools, making zoning more flexible, introducing a Youth Guarantee, and improving special education options.

"This policy confirms National's commitment to keeping and improving the NCEA qualifications system.

"Labour has been too slow to fix the NCEA and has ignored the concerns of many thousands of pupils, teachers, and parents. A National Government will listen and we will act."

Mr Key confirmed today that National will slowly increase funding for independent schools, adding an extra $10 million to their annual funding in next year's Budget.

"The cap on independent school funding has pushed up fees and made these schools increasingly elitist. This increase in funding will help make independent schools more affordable for many struggling parents.

"This amounts to no more than 2% of the additional funding National will allocate to education in next year's Budget. I am absolutely committed to the public education system and this policy reflects that commitment."

Other features of National's policy include: * A commitment to a 21st Century School Building Programme. * A $19 million funding allocation for the introduction of a voluntary bonding scheme for teachers in hard-to-staff areas and subjects, details of which will be worked through with the sector. *

Expanding the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme.

"The initiatives I'm announcing today also need to be considered alongside our clear plans for a Youth Guarantee, our crusade on literacy and numeracy, our plan to boost trade training in schools, and our focus on raising educational standards.

"I consider education is a ladder to opportunity. I will ensure Kiwi kids are fit for the climb."

ENDS


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