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ACT Pledges Excellence & Choice In Education

ACT New Zealand is pledging excellence for students and choice for parents in its education policy released today.

Speaking to students and teachers at Otara's Ferguson Intermediate to launch the policy, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said the first priority for ACT is to set standards of achievement and assessments to ensure children can no longer fall through the gaps.

"Close monitoring of every child's progress will also ensure that teachers perform to the highest standards.

"Our failure to properly monitor and assess the progress of students has been the single biggest contributor to the widening achievement gap between Maori and non-Maori since testing was abolished in 1970.

"In the 1970 IEA International Reading Survey New Zealand topped the world in reading achievement in our schools, there was no distinguishable difference between Maori and non-Maori reading skills. The 1990 IEA International Reading Survey showed New Zealand with the widest gap of any country (of the 32 participating) between Maori and non-Maori and between achievers and non-achievers.

"ACT wants choice for parents. The TIE scheme, which allows low-income earners to take their child's share of education funding and spend it at the school of their choice, has been a resounding success. That opportunity should be given to every child.

"Parents currently have little or no choice for their child. Most must simply accept what their local school offers. To place their child in an independent school, parents must pay twice. This is beyond the means of those on low incomes and difficult for middle New Zealanders.

"As a first step, ACT wants all schools to be bulk funded to give back control to schools and their communities. Bulk funding also allows schools to reward excellence in the classroom and to determine their own priorities.

"The balance of funding in education must be addressed. ACT says that we must put more into the pre-school, primary and secondary sectors to give more New Zealand children the skills to go on to tertiary education.

"We must set the standard of excellence in education for every child. Our failure to do so has resulted in one in four children leaving school unable to read and write properly. ACT is the only Party that is setting that standard. We want an education system that is fair to every child based on excellence and choice," said Donna Awatere Huata.

ENDS

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