Labour announces education plans including common practice model, financial literacy

Policies include legislation of maths, reading and writing teaching and the introduction of financial literacy as a compulsory subject.

Last week, Labour announced their education policies ahead of the election, including a legislative mandate to teach reading, writing and maths in a consistent manner from 2026 and compulsory financial literacy teaching from 2025.  

Speaking to the media, Education Minister Jan Tinetti said the Government would add legislation to the Education and Training Act 2020 which would add core teaching requirements to the national curriculum.

Read the Term 3 edition of School News HERE  

The common practice model – as the policy is being called – is under development and will be released for consultation in Term 4 this year. Changes to legislation would only be made under the next government. 

Work had begun on the requirements in March 2022, though National education spokesperson Erica Stanford has accused Labour of copying National’s policy.  

Labour says they will legislate reading, writing and maths into the NZC. © WavebreakMediaMicro –

However, Tinetti claims the common practice model will not interfere with professional autonomy, though it would include teaching methods and phase-by-phase guidance.  

Schools would be able to make use of the material in 2024 before the updated English, Maths and Statistics standards come into use in 2025. Then from 2026, the common practice model will be made compulsory for all schools. Exceptions would be made for private schools, and Kura kaupapa Māori will enter discussions with the Ministry to decide how the changes would be implemented to suit their curriculum. 

Tinetti stated that consistent implementation would be achieved via “guidance, professional development and materials”.  

“We have great teachers, but historically the curriculum hasn’t always been clear about how core subjects should be taught, and it’s meant there are wide variations of teaching.  

“The compulsory core teaching requirements will outline what teachers have to cover off at every year level across a child’s time at school.  

“There will still be flexibility around how different students learn best, however what they learn and when they will learn it will be much clearer.”  

Tinetti said the common practice model would be enforced through teacher appraisals and ERO audits.  

Labour would also bring in “learning progress steps” which allow students’ progress to be tracked over time in each core subject.  

Chris Abercrombie, Acting President of the PPTA noted that the policy was “really unusual.”  

“It is very unusual to be told how to teach something. What to teach, that’s always there in the curriculum, but the ‘how to do it’ is really unusual.”  

Abercrombie noted that the compulsory nature of the policy may make things difficult for teachers who could innovate for ākonga who needed a different approach.  

“We’re really concerned about the politicisation of our national curriculum,” Abercrombie continued.  

“Taking pedagogy away from the profession and putting it in the hands of politicians is of serious concern. Doctors don’t have laws about how they treat patients day to day, lawyers don’t have laws about how they prosecute their clients’ cases; making laws about how teachers teach is the thin edge of the wedge.”  

But some educators disagreed. Kaiapoi North School deputy principal Felicity Fahey helped develop the common practice model and said it needs to be compulsory. Speaking to RNZ, Fahey said “we want to make sure that the teachers understand the importance of this common practice model. It’s not a pick and mix… it’s this is the best way the evidence is showing that we need to teach our children.”  

Fahey said that the common practice model synthesised existing research and knowledge about best practice teaching methods, saving kaiako time.  

Naomi Ingram, College of Education Associate Dean at the University of Otago, said that the mandate ensured government support.  

“Mandatory’s not just about all the accountability… mandatory means it’s going to have really good support behind it. 

“They’re going to throw resources at this and that will help teachers… it’s a roadmap for the success of ākonga,” said Ingram.  

Leanne Otene, President of the Principals’ Federation added that teachers would likely support the model because teachers created it “based on evidence and based on practice in our schools that we know works.”  

“This is not national standards. We would never support anything whereby every child was to reach a certain level by a certain age.”  

Educators say they don’t want a return to National Standards, which mandated standardised testing. Image: AdobeStock 187619452

In a press release, NZEI Te Riu Roa stated that the union “broadly supports” the common practice model, but believes “time and resourcing to prepare the best learning experiences for tamariki are more important than mandating.”  

President Mark Potter added “a lot is mandated for teachers already. What the teacher needs is the time and resourcing to ensure they are properly prepared to teach while maintaining their professional autonomy to deliver the curriculum in a way that is responsive to the children they work with.” 

Potter also warned against standardised testing.  

“Whānau want to know what their tamariki are learning and where their progress is at, but high stakes assessment drives unhelpful behaviours for teachers and students.”  

Labour has also announced that it would make financial literacy compulsory in schools from 2025, citing low levels of financial skills like budgeting in school leavers.  

Labour wants to make financial education compulsory in schools. © Nuthawut –

“Young people will leave school knowing how to budget, open a bank account, manage bills and save and invest their money as part of a financial skills in schools programme,” said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.  

“Over the past six years, Labour has been growing financial teaching capability through making it a core part of the School Leavers Toolkit and encouraging partnerships with banks to provide education and advice in schools – but more needs to be done.” 

Financial education would begin in primary school and be taught through maths and social sciences from secondary school, building on existing “financial capability progressions”.  

There will be a focus on saving and investing, budgeting, setting financial goals, consumer rights and taxes and income.  

Hipkins also stated that schools would report results twice a year.  

Past studies show that only 18 percent of teachers taught financial skills in schools.  


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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