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Labour Party: School And Pre-School Policy

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The best start for our kids

Labour is dedicated to ensuring our youngest Kiwis get the best start possible to their education through quality early childhood education. Labour will guarantee that 20 Hours Free stays free. Currently around 85,000 3 and 4 year olds and their families are benefiting from this policy -- that's about 90% of enrolled 3 and 4 year olds, and Labour is committed to seeing this number grow in the future. To ensure that we continue to grow the number of places available we will continue to support community groups and providers who wish to start up or expand an early childhood centre, particularly in communities with high population growth and where the take-up of early childhood education is low. We will also develop specific plans to boost early childhood education services in communities where there are groups of children not participating in early childhood education.

Labour will also help prepare young children for school with our new free “School Ready” check ups which are rolling out across the country. To succeed in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, our children need to be able to see the board and hear their teacher. If they can’t, then we need to pick that up as early as possible so we can address it. These checks will help ensure that all New Zealand children have the opportunity to succeed, and our children arrive at school ready and able to learn.

From the beginning of 2009, Labour will reduce class sizes for new entrants to one teacher for every fifteen pupils. We have committed the funding for an additional 762 teachers, and for learning spaces, furniture and equipment, to make this happen.

Schools Plus – A plus for all New Zealand kids

New Zealand’s education system is world class, and serves most young New Zealanders very well. But we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. That’s why we are developing Schools Plus, to ensure that all young people are supported and encouraged to achieve to their potential.

Labour will ensure that our kids are in school or some form of workplace training until they are 18. Schools under Schools Plus will be the base from where students begin youth apprenticeships, obtain work skills or continue with programmes of work that lead to university or tertiary education. This will build on the good work that is already happening in many schools, and will continue to build strong partnerships between schools, employers, tertiary education organisations and communities.

Professional development for teachers will also be available to ensure a high quality teaching workforce meets the varying needs of students in their schools.

More teachers mean better quality education for all children

Labour will continue to invest in funding for extra teachers – especially in in-demand areas such as technology and Te Reo Māori. Since 1999 Labour has provided more than 6000 new teachers over and above those required for role growth.

Labour is also committed to continuing investment in teachers’ pay and professional development. We will also maintain our commitment to increasing the range of opportunities available to new, existing, or aspiring principals.

An education system that achieves

Our education system performs well by international standards and we are in the top tier of OECD countries for reading, mathematics and science. Our system scores highly in the areas of special education, school improvement, and early childhood education. We are also recognised for our innovative policies and practice.

Labour believes we are well served by the assessment used in our schools as a tool to provide guidance for teaching and learning. Labour is opposed to the introduction of national testing.

A brand new and future-proof curriculum

Labour will continue to roll out the new curriculum designed to support school students developing the values and competencies and gaining the knowledge they need for the 21st century.

As well as knowing facts and figures, the curriculum also focuses on how to use knowledge effectively and apply it outside the classroom. Consultation on this important document included input from 15,000 New Zealanders, 10,000 submissions on the final draft and comprehensive peer reviews from both the UK and Australia.

Labour will continue to support schools and teachers during the roll-out of the curriculum with workshops and online support.

Building for the future

Labour will continue to invest in education infrastructure. For example, since 1999 we have provided the money to build 42 new schools and kura as well as upgrading existing facilities around the country and increased access to technology suites - vital for preparing for the future.

Māori Education

Labour is committed to building on the positive Māori educational results achieved in recent times. Māori are staying at school longer and leaving with higher-level qualifications, and we will continue to push for improved Māori participation and achievement at school.

Labour will continue to foster the learning of Te Reo Māori in all schools across Aotearoa - both Māori Medium and Mainstream. We will work to ensure that all our rangatahi have the opportunity to learn Te Reo both inside and outside our classrooms.

We have also invested in the world’s first purely indigenous education curriculum. The curriculum for Māori-medium schools is not just a translation of the New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium schools, but comes from a truly indigenous perspective. Once again we are leading the world with innovative and ground breaking ideas – by celebrating our unique diversity.

Pasifika Education

Labour will support and encourage a highly educated and skilled Pacific population. We are committed to raising Pacific people’s success in education through the Pasifika Education Plan, and will continue to support the school Pasifika Language Curriculum Guidelines in Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Tongan and Niuean. We will also continue to encourage the growth of Pasifika early childhood education services – already there are 114 services using Pasifika languages as the medium of instruction.

Support for our young tradespeople

Labour will continue the Youth Apprentice pilot programme for secondary schools. The pilot gives secondary school students industry-based training, tertiary education and work experience in their chosen trade while still at school. This gives students a head start on an apprenticeship they can continue once they leave school. This pilot builds on other successful initiatives such as the Gateway Programme which offers secondary students hands-on work experience outside the classroom.

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