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Hekia Parata: Raising achievement for all in Budget 2012

Hon Hekia Parata
Minister of Education

16 May 2012

Speech Notes

Hekia Parata: Raising achievement for all in Budget 2012

· I’m here today to talk about our education plan. Education is a subject that’s dear to my heart and head - and indeed yours, as future employers and business associates of the generation of young New Zealanders who are coming through our education system today.

· I’ve been around the education sector for many years and as you know I have been the Education Minister for five months. I’m passionate about education and what a good education can do for our young people.

· We have an education system that is among the best in the world. It gives our students a platform to compete here at home and internationally. Four out of five kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and we must celebrate their success and the professionals in our system who make that possible every day.

· But our Government’s education plan is about getting five out of five.

· We want all our kids to be leaving school with the skills they need to reach their potential in the modern economy. That means lifting up those who are being left behind, and encouraging those who are doing well to do even better.

· Too many of the kids falling behind because they are not getting the quality teaching and leadership that all the evidence tells us makes the difference are Māori and Pasifika learners, those who come from low socio-economic homes, or have special needs.

· We can, and must, do better for them. We don’t have a generation to waste.

· New Zealand is a small country that must make up for size with smarts. We must out-think our competitors. We need our investment in 21st century technologies to be matched by new and skilled thinking that reflects the best teaching practices and our natural cultural advantages.

· Education can make a two-fold contribution to our country. It builds our social and cultural strength, and our productivity. That’s important for our economy, and it’s important for New Zealand.

· I’m here today to talk about raising achievement for all New Zealanders, realising the potential of all our learners, creating Kiwis that can fly. We want to ensure a world-leading education system that equips our kids with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful people in the 21st century.

· Today I can confirm that Budget 2012 will increase overall spending on education for the fourth Budget in a row. This has happened despite tight fiscal times, and against a backdrop of a recent global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.

· That is a track record which reflects the priority the National-led Government places on our plan for education. Education is a winner in Budget 2012.

· We are ambitious to see all our children reach their potential and that’s why we aim to have 85 percent of all 18-year-olds having achieved a minimum of a Level Two qualification, NCEA 2 or equivalent by 2016. This is a passport to a better life – because learning is earning.

· Reaching that target will be challenging. But it is possible. It requires more of what counts and perhaps less of what’s comfortable - and it is vital that we get there.

· So we must ensure our money – your taxes - is being spent to realise the potential of each and every learner. If it’s not raising the achievement of our kids in big or small ways, if we can’t see progress in tiny steps or leaps and bounds, unless we can see positive growth, however we measure it, we should not be doing it. We need to give our learners the best possible education we can. That means making good choices with the money we have.

· Right from the earliest years of a child’s life, we know that quality early childhood education gets kids ready for learning at school. We want kids to go to primary school confident, able to engage, and eager to learn That is why our plan for education has a target of 98% participation in early childhood education by 2016.

· We have increased spending on ECE by a third since 2008 and we now spend the most ever on this important start to life. The 34 per cent increase since 2008 is spending that complements and reinforces the positive parenting that occurs in the vast majority of homes all over NZ, while also providing for our most vulnerable children.

· We are continuing to target areas of high need in early childhood education and you will see more of that on Budget day.

· After early childhood education, parents then send their most cherished creation - their young child - to school. We entrust schools with our children and with the high expectations we have of and for them.

· The platform for learning is formally built in these critical primary years. All of us want to understand at regular intervals how well the building of that platform is progressing and strengthening.

· With the introduction of National Standards by our Government, data and information is being collected and reported to show if kids are doing well, how their learning is improving, and what needs to change for better learning. Parents are pleased to have this information about how much their child’s learning has progressed as well as where their child’s achievement sits in the classroom and nationwide.

· Ensuring that our Year 8 students arrive from primary school prepared and ready is essential for their success at senior school levels. Our plan for education includes clarifying tertiary and vocational pathways so students can consider early the best options for them.

· The challenge for our secondary schools is to retain all students, especially through those vulnerable years 9-10, and to ensure that they can secure a passport to a better quality of life. At present one in five of our 15-16 year olds is dropping out. We want all 18 year olds to have a minimum of an NCEA Level 2 qualification, or equivalent. Why? Because learning is earning.

· We are also doing a lot to invest in 21st century learning environments. This includes setting aside the first $1 billion from the Future Investment Fund to create modern learning environments, and spending between $300 million and $400 million on the Network for Learning, which will ensure our students can make the most of all the opportunities that are coming from ultra-fast broadband. The classroom your child learns in today is very different to the classroom you and I learnt in. And their learning spaces will continue to evolve and change.

· We are doing a lot to raise student achievement in schools but there is more we can do. There are two main investments we can make to raise achievement – they are in quality teaching, and quality professional leadership. I’d like to talk a bit about these now.

· Our biggest value investment is our education profession -- the approximately 50,000 teachers and 2,500 principals, with 35,000 non-teaching support staff. These numbers have increased by nearly 6,000 teachers over the past 10 years and to be honest at the same time our student achievement results have plateaued.

· We have $3.69 billion invested in teachers’ and principals’ salaries. That’s just under half of the Education Vote for that sector. The salary bill has increased by around 55%, well over inflation, since the year 2000 with only an incremental increase in achievement - and not by all learners

· Even so, our National-led Government is committed to improving the quality of teaching through an ongoing investment of just over $300m over the next four years in professional learning and development.

· Today I am pleased to announce that in Budget 2012 we will invest a further $511.9m of new money into quality frontline education services.

· Quality teaching is about holding high expectations of, being able to relate to and finding what works for every single child in the classroom. That’s what every one of our teachers needs to be able to do.

· A good example is Oturu School in the Far North, where with great professional leadership and outstanding teaching, students and their whole school community have participated in an engaging cross curriculum programme. It has seen strengthened literacy and numeracy through a number of initiatives such as growing, harvesting, and marketing olive oil, as well as developing effective local remedies for skin and hair conditions. Learning, earning, and having fun!

· Another good example is Amesbury School, here in Wellington, where the students are engaged through art, music, dance, multi-media activities, expressed equally naturally in beautiful English and te reo Māori, and across all age groups.

· We are embarking on a two year work programme to retain and grow, as well as attract, the best talent into the profession. To do that we will:

1. Invest an additional $60 million over four years to boost new teacher- recruitment and training

2. Ensure that student teachers are equipped with the best teaching practices for 21st century learning

3. Shift to a post-graduate qualification for new teachers

4. And give stronger mentoring and coaching for those teachers working towards full registration.

· We will develop better career progression pathways, introduce a new pre-principalship qualification that will strengthen the recruitment and selection of school leaders, and review the Teachers Council to secure a stronger professional body.

· We are investing in better teaching. We need to find ways to recognise and reward our outstanding teachers as well as work with those who have potential. We also need to identify those who are not keeping up, or who are just going through the motions.

· To raise teaching quality, we have to identify who is delivering successful practice and make that common practice.

· To this end we will collaborate in the development of an appraisal system focusing on driving up quality teaching and quality professional leadership. Performance pay is but one of a basket of options to reward and recognise that.

· Teaching is a profession; professions have a number of characteristics of which accountability for performance – good, great, outstanding, unacceptable - is one.

· The reality is that we are in a tight economic environment. In order to make this new investment in quality teaching and leading, we have to make some trade-offs. As I have already outlined we are opting for quality not quantity, better teaching not more teachers.

· We will fund the improvement in teaching quality by making a small change to teacher: student ratios. These changes will free up just over $43 million, on average, in each year over the next four years.

· We will continue to emphasise the most critical transition years of new entrants and senior secondary school. The way we will do this is by maintaining or lowering the ratios at new entrant year 1 and years 11-13, and making a small adjustment to achieve consistency of teacher:student ratios in the mid-years of schooling.

· Ratios will remain as they are for new entrant year one at 1:15, and for students sitting NCEA in years 11-13, will be standardised at 1:17.3.

· In the middle years 2-10 there is currently a wide range of ratios, ranging from 1:23 to 1:29. To give schools consistency and certainty about how they manage their resources, we will standardise this ratio at 1:27.5.

· What this means is that 90 per cent of schools will either gain, or have a net loss of less than one Full Time Teacher Equivalent (FTTEs) as a result of the combined effect of the ratio changes and projected roll growth. These changes will take effect over the next five years.

· To be clear, these ratios are a funding formula – they are how we as the Government funds schools. The actual number of children in a classroom is set by the school.

· Every year a school’s roll changes because families move or make different education choices. And every year schools reset class sizes according to those changes in their roll. These more consistent ratios will be fairer and give schools greater certainty over their resourcing from year to year.

· My primary school teacher tells me that my class numbered 42! The important point here is that all the evidence tells us that it is the quality of teaching that makes the difference to learning and achievement, not one or two extra students in a class.

· The money we free up from these small changes will be reinvested into improving teaching quality. It is the single most important thing we can do to raise student achievement.

· In our education plan, success in the compulsory primary and secondary sector means better leadership and better teaching. It means:

1. delivering measurable improvement in learning, and reporting that to parents every six months at primary or intermediate school (years 1-8)

2. Year 8 students transitioning to secondary school able to read and write and do mathematics at a year 9 level

3. Year 9 and 10s participation and engagement keeping them in school and readying them for the NCEA years

4. 85 % of 18 year-olds achieving in NCEA Level 2 (or equivalents) by 2016.

· One of the National-led Government’s key priorities is to deliver better public services to New Zealanders within tight fiscal constraints. Raising educational achievement, while ensuring value for money, is central to this.

· We want to ensure a world leading education system that equips all New Zealand students with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful people in the 21st century.

· We are completely focused on giving children and young people the opportunity to succeed from early childhood learning, though schooling and into vocational and tertiary training and education.

· So I am pleased Budget 2012 invests more in education than ever. Education is a priority for our Government despite the tough economic environment we are in and you will see more of our plan in the Budget on May 24.

· We know the single most important thing we can do to raise achievement is to improve teaching quality so that’s why we are investing in better teaching, not more teachers.

· Education is a passport to a better life. Learning is earning. That’s why our education plan is focused on raising achievement for five out of five of our kids. We want all our learners to realise their potential, and we want to create Kiwis that can fly!

· The actions we have taken to date and those we undertake in this term in Government reflect our education plan to raise education achievement and deliver on building a brighter future for all New Zealanders.


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