Vote for Me—Election 2017
Our members made sure that education was firmly on the agenda for General Election 2017.
Thousands of New Zealanders signed postcards pledging that when it was time to vote, they would make education one of their main issues. We also quizzed each party on their plans for education if they made it into office.
Party policies: who said what
Before the election, we surveyed Labour, Green, National, NZ First, Māori Party, MANA, ACT and TOP to see what they had to say about our top seven issues for education.
Find out what each party had to say about our top 7 questions.
Our colleagues from the Post-Primary Teachers' Association also surveyed each party on 10 key questions about restoring strength to public education.
1: Pay equity for education support workers and teacher aides
The maximum hourly rate for education support workers is $19.48 per hour, less than the living wage of $20.20...
Will your party fund pay equity for education support workers and teacher aides and remove any hurdles – such as the proposed hierarchy of comparators?
Yes. Labour is committed to pay equity and a living wage for education support staff. We will achieve this through a centralised funding system for support staff similar to the way we fund teacher salaries.
Yes. The Green Party is committed to funding support staff out of a nationalised budget instead of from the operations budget.
The National Party is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand and providing a practical and fair process for employees.
New Zealand First is committed to the immediate review of the pay structure for school support staff.
The Māori Party believes in a living wage and excellent employment conditions for workers but does not back the proposed hierarchy of comparators.
Yes. MANA policy is to have the living wage as the minimum wage across the country and in all parts of the economy.
ACT supports giving principals, boards of trustees and communities the flexibility to pay education support workers and teacher aides more by giving them more control over how they spend their school’s budget. With their local knowledge they are best placed to decide the right mix of staff and other resources for their students.
Our immediate funding priority is early childhood education as set out below. Our ultimate goal is to ensure all teaching staff are high quality and that is likely to require a boost in pay over time.
2: Charter schools
There is no credible evidence that charter schools improve educational outcomes for children, in fact, in many cases it is the opposite.
Will your party abolish charter schools?
Yes. The Labour Party is firmly opposed to charter schools and will repeal the law change that allowed for them to be created.
Yes. Charter schools undermine a quality public education system.
No, the evidence shows that many partnership schools are getting great results for their students.
The Māori Party supports charter schools. They are subject to high levels of transparency and accountability and some have been particularly effective for Māori students who have previously been poorly served by the state system.
Yes. MANA would abolish charter schools which are an ACT Party policy to privatise education.
No, the partnership schools policy empowers educators to start new innovative schools, allows parents to choose and gives teachers more diverse employment opportunities.
All existing charter schools will be absorbed into the state system.
3: Funding review and operations grant freeze
The operations grant was frozen in last year’s budget.
Will your party continue with the current funding review including no increase to the operations grant? How will you fund equity in education?
No. Labour will ensure that schools receive the funding that they need so they don’t have to rely on other sources such as parental donations and user-pays.
The Green Party is aware that education needs to be better funded. We would increase funding overall in the sector, including the operations grant.
The operations grant was not frozen. This year’s Budget increased the ops grant by 1.3 percent, and increased targeted funding for those children at risk of educational underachievement by 4 percent. The funding review is looking at possible new options. No decisions have been made yet.
No. New Zealand First understands that at least the “cost of living” increases must be immediately paid to schools via their operations grants.
The Māori Party would look to increase the operations grant which was frozen in last year’s Budget. Equity in education is not just about funding but ensuring all students, no matter what their socio-economic status, ethnicity or location, can achieve similar outcomes.
MANA believes funding for education should be based on educational need rather than bulk funding which is the basis of the Operations Grant. We would abandon the current funding review because it does not recognise poverty as factor in determining funding.
ACT is open to looking at increased education funding, including more targeted funding for at-risk students. However, equity in education is not only about money. ACT believes that the state should fund a range of schools.
Update 1 September: ACT has announced that it wants to almost double the budget for private schools, boosting their government funding by some $40m.
We will stop competition, encourage schools to work together and ensure the resulting savings are used to make every local school the school of choice.
4: National Standards
Research has shown that National Standards are narrowing the curriculum and not improving educational outcomes for learners on international monitors.
Will your party keep National Standards in schools?
No. Labour will abolish National Standards and return the focus back to a broad and varied curriculum.
Update 1 September: Labour announced that it opposes National Standards Plus. Leader Jacinda Ardern said that while parents need to know how their children are progressing, they "are over-assessed, and that ultimately is hurting their education. A broken system is no better put online or put on paper. National Standards are neither national nor standard, and our view is they are doing more harm than good."
No. The Green Party would abolish National Standards and support meaningful assessment that supports each child via a diverse and creative curriculum.
Yes. Having better information enables everyone to identify the students who need extra support to accelerate their progress.
Update 1 September: National will roll out $45 million "National Standards Plus" project to put assessment data online in real time - initially for reading, writing and maths in 2019 but then extended to digital technology and wellbeing measures. It is unclear if this means making PaCT mandatory.
We would consider reviewing National Standards and we believe more culturally responsive teachers are needed. Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for teachers of Māori learners provides a framework that can support professional development and learning for teachers, leaders and aspiring principals which can only assist in better outcomes for Māori and Pasifika.
MANA would abolish National Standards and replace them with the requirement that schools provide detailed information to families regarding how well their children are doing compared to other children on a national basis.
Yes, National Standards are one way to help ensure transparency and accountability. However, they are not perfect. ACT favours accountability through parental choice. Every parent should have the right to say, “sorry, this school isn’t right for my child, we want something else”.
TOP will delay National Standards until Year 6, cull all existing educational targets and public reporting.
5: Learning support
Funding for learning support is inadequate given the growing number of children identified with special educational needs and disabilities.
Will your party increase funding for learning support so every child can reach their potential?
Yes. Labour recognises the huge unmet need for learning support. Labour was the only party in Parliament that voted to put increased spending on social services ahead of tax cuts.
Yes. The Green Party led a Select Committee inquiry into learning support needs.
Update 1 September: The Greens have announced that they would introduce a funded SENCO role for every 400 children, double ORS and early intervention funding, introduce a $5 million annual School Camp fund to support students with additional learning needs, invest $25 million over three years in targeted learning support professional development for teachers and centrally fund school support staff.
The National Party has significantly increased funding for children with additional learning needs by around 33 percent since 2009 to $633 million per year.
Yes. We are committed to increasing ORS funding to 3 percent of the school population.
Yes the Māori Party supports the increase in funding for children identified with special educational needs and disabilities. It is in everyone’s interests that all children receive adequate education.
Yes we would increase funding for learning support. Mainstreaming children identified with special educational needs and disabilities has many rewards but it cannot work effectively without significant funding increases.
The special educational needs and disabilities sector has been undervalued for too long with children not getting the support they need. ACT is very open to increasing funding for children identified with special educational needs and disabilities. We also support piloting new educational programmes.
We can reduce the pressure on special education by tackling child poverty through fairer taxes and creating an Unconditional Basic Income of $200 per week to families with children under 3.
6: Funding for early childhood education
New research has shown that the Government has cut $260 million a year off funding for Early Childhood Education.
Will your party restore funding to ECE including funding 100 percent fully qualified teachers in all centres?
Yes. Labour will restore the higher funding rate for services that employ 100 percent qualified teachers and work towards all centres having fully qualified and registered teachers.
Restore funding so centres are able to afford 100 percent qualified staff. Support Te Whāriki commitments to culture and play rather than focus on measuring children’s skills.
There has been no cut of funding for ECE. Our funding system also incentivises high proportions of registered teachers in teacher-led services, and there are no plans to change this at the moment.
Yes. The Māori Party will restore funding to the Early Childhood Education sector to appropriate levels.
MANA would raise minimum regulatory standards including an adult:child ratio of 1:3 for under twos and 1:5 for over twos, minimum qualification levels and increased funding to non-profit ECE centres to meet these new minimum regulatory standards.
ACT is open to looking at funding ECE more. However, we believe that funding should be independent of the number of fully-qualified teachers. Parents will choose the ECE that best suits their individual needs.
TOP will boost funding in early childhood education well above the ask made above. We will fund free full-time high quality early childhood education for all children.
7: Top priorities and first 100 days
What is your top policy priority in education and what would you implement in your first 100 days in office?
We will abolish the obsession with measurement and audit and return the focus to what really matters – teaching and learning.
Increase the operations grant. Start to roll out our school hubs policy and kick off planning for Te Reo as a core subject in schools.
While we have not yet released our education policy, one of the top priorities is completing the Funding Review so we have a fairer funding system and more support for schools and early learning.
We would set a 30-year strategic plan for education in New Zealand and return to a high trust environment where politicians do not dictate what happens in the classroom.
The Māori Party believes that education should be driven by whānau aspirations but not one policy can achieve that. Rather, a number of policies can help do that including, among other things compulsory te reo Māori in schools.
Feed the kids! MANA would implement free breakfast and lunch programmes in all state and state integrated schools.
ACT will therefore open more partnership schools and allow state and integrated schools to voluntarily apply for partnership school status, giving them the same flexibilities enjoyed by partnership schools.
The early childhood education change as mentioned above, followed by reduced testing and setting in motion a repealing of Tomorrow’s Schools.