Education representatives are expressing delight at the appointments within the new government’s education team.
NZEI Te Riu Roa says the announcement of Chris Hipkins as the education minister and Tracey Martin, Kelvin Davis and Jenny Salesa as associate education ministers, is great news for children and educators.
“The combination of their talents and of a government consisting of Labour, NZ First and the Greens bodes well for education,” says president Lynda Stuart.
All three parties have committed to reversing nine years of underfunding of children’s learning in ECE and schooling.
“Educators are looking forward to real engagement with the minister about a promised 30-year strategic plan for education. This will allow us to develop a shared vision for the sector,” said Ms Stuart.
NZEI’s enthusiasm was echoed by the New Zealand Principals’ Federation. President Whetu Cormick said, “We are delighted to be working with this great team of people. We have been in policy discussions with Labour, NZ First and the Green party throughout the past decade and are well familiar with their position on key issues.
‘Most importantly of all, we can expect to see quality public education as the strong foundation on which all other policies will rest,’ he said.
“That means we expect that the target driven, standards based, data-obsessed agenda we have had for the past decade, will now cease.
The New Zealand School Trustees’ Association (NZSTA) says there’s “no doubting how serious the incoming government is about education”. “We look forward to working with the new government to refresh and revitalise the education system for all our children and young people. The incoming government has a strong focus on education, and a high level of consensus among the governing parties on what they want to achieve,” says NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr.
Five other portfolios have also been announced that will have a strong influence on the education environment. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern is minister for child poverty reduction, Carmel Sepuloni is minister for social development, disability issues and Pacific peoples, and Tracey Martin is minister for children as well as an associate minister of education.
“An agreed long-term strategic plan for education, fully funding schools to provide a genuinely free education for all students, improving the way the system provides for students with special education needs, and making the Communities of Learning model more flexible so they can meet the needs of their local community are all ideas we’ve been actively working on – and they’re not the only ones,” she says.
“That said, the most important thing about education is remembering that it’s there for the students. Every policy needs to be tracked back to how it will improve things for students, and we are, and will continue to be, relentless about doing that. Everything else is a means to that end.”
NZSTA says that the fair society policies in the Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement will also make a huge difference to students’ readiness and ability to focus on succeeding at school.
“This is an exciting time for our member boards, and we’re looking forward to it.”