National’s new education policy fails to impress educators

It’s feared the new policy will echo the failed National Standards scheme of the last National Government.

National’s new education policy, called “Teaching the Basics Brilliantly”, has been criticised by educators for missing the mark on what schools really need.  

The policy, unveiled by Christopher Luxon on March 23, states that primary and intermediate students, from Years 0 – 8, would be required to get an hour a day each of reading, writing and maths. If elected, National would also require two tests a year from Years 3 – 8 to assess ākonga progress in reading, writing, maths and science. National’s stated aim is to get 80% of children to meet literacy and numeracy standards by the time they reach high school.  

Read the Term 1 edition of School News HERE.

Luxon also indicated that under their policy, teachers would receive more resources, and registration fees would be removed to encourage more teachers to enter the profession.  

National’s education spokesperson Erica Stanford said the policy was about “informing Government where we need to direct resources.”  

But educators disagree, stating we already know where resources need to be delivered.  

In a press release, NZEI Te Riu Roa stated that “what teachers and children need is an increase in funding and staffing to support learners with higher needs”.  

National’s policy announcement comes just a week after the largest education sector strike in New Zealand history last week on March 16. The march aimed to highlight the need for more resourcing, better classroom ratios and more support staff for increasing and complex ākonga needs.  

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter stated “the curriculum is not the problem, and the last thing we want is to see it being designed by politcians. 

“National’s policy doesn’t offer any solutions of resourcing to the key problem primary schools have… Schools are understaffed and teachers and principals are overstretched. And as every teacher and parent knows, the ‘basics’ for one child might be different for another.” 

Kyle Brewerton, president of the Auckland Primary Principal’s Association, agreed, telling Stuff that “if we actually just put that money in schools, students and professional development… we would see a much greater change than a new curriculum.”  

Brewerton also agreed that National’s policy wouldn’t affect existing classroom conditions.

“There are the same number of kids, same challenges, same problems at home, same issues around trauma and disengagement. 

“Once again, education has been politicised to the detriment of young people and teachers.”  

Leanne Otene, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, said of the policy: “no standardised system of teaching and assessment can possibly be useful in a context of high diversity as we have.”

“What we most need is a Counsellor in every school and funding for psychologists, trauma trained teachers, specialists and therapists. What we most definitely don’t need is another round of national standards.” 


Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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