Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)
PPTA News asked political parties for their education policies and we were underwhelmed by the response.
A week can be a very long time in politics but sometimes a month isn’t long enough. For the first time our request to political parties to answer questions was not answered by our deadline. Only the Green Party eventually got back to us, but not by the PPTA News print deadline.
The Covid-19 disruption seems to have pushed some parties to the limit, in terms of policy development. Perhaps education is not seen as a priority? Or maybe they know that if we knew what they want to do, we’d be loud in our disapproval?
Whatever the truth, this year, we can only encourage you to visit other parties’ websites to view their education policies and take the opportunity to ask candidates what their positions are. Here are Policy.nz’s summaries of each party’s education positions.
You can also use this candidate report card to grill your local politicians.
1. Regarding schools as community hubs: do you support a hub coordinator, paid for by government, to develop and support the hub?
Yes. Long-standing Green Party policy has been for government to support the development of schools as community hubs, with health services, community internet access, early childhood education, etc. This would include such staff as Hub Coordinators. An overarching coordinator role will allow for a joined-up and ongoing care in community hubs.
2. Are you in favour of having a minister with responsibility for the programme?
Yes in principle. The Green Party will explore options for ministerial oversight to ensure there is accountability for the development and progress of educational community hubs. We would like to see active collaboration with other sectors, such as health and social services, in the development of community hubs to promote better outcomes children and their families. Ministerial oversight could ensure this is delivered in our communities.
3. What about purpose built buildings able to properly house social services?
Yes – and these should not be built using public private partnerships. The Green Party will provide resources for new facilities and schools that wish to establish themselves as Community Learning Centres. We believe all public schools and hubs should be fully funded to a level where high quality educational delivery is not dependant on the collection of fees or private investment. We will advocate for significant additional funding to schools, early childhood centres and kura, for collaborative and co-operating ventures, including for social services.
We are also concerned with ensuring all buildings are fully accessible and inclusive of people with additional needs. In the wake of COVID-19 we’ve been advocating for disability-inclusive school infrastructure and we will continue to push for more funding and resources so education is inclusive of everyone in Aotearoa.
4. And staff to provide pastoral care/community liaison for Maori and Pasifika whanau?
Yes. The Green Party supports a culturally appropriate environment in schools including fostering community with extended Māori and Pasifika whanau so they can be involved in their children’s education. We want to and ensure that families have access to the resources they need to support their children’s learning, including staff to promote this.
5. What about adolescent and community mental health services including school guidance counsellors?
Yes. The Green Party would like to see free counselling for young people under 25, increased funding for youth mental health services and more community initiatives for health in the education sector. We are proud to have delivered the Piki tertiary mental health pilots during this parliament, and to be working with the Minister to roll out broader youth mental health services. On top of this, The Green Party will ensure that schools have a guidance staffing entitlement specifically for a trained professional school guidance counsellor with a 1:400 student ratio. We recognise that mental wellbeing starts early in life and that young people should be helped at the earliest stages, rather than at the bottom of the hill. New Zealand’s poor mental health rates can be helped with a well-funded and better-coordinated strategy for our young people.
6. Do you have a long-term commitment to adult and continuing community education?
Yes. The Green Party believes that community hubs should also provide internet access, cultural services, adult education programmes and work collaboratively with community institutions to meet community educational needs. This is part of The Green Party’s commitment to continuing education, which in its broadest sense is about helping everyone reach their potential. Tertiary education, including trade training and apprenticeships, should be made equally accessible and affordability to different ages, cultures and abilities. Additionally, The Green Party would like to see community education initiatives on human rights, key environmental and climate issues and other emerging social issues.
7. What about medical and wellbeing services for the whole school community?
Yes. The Green Party would like to work with the health sector to provide wrap-around health and wellbeing services in community hubs. This includes dental care, welfare services, healthy lunch programmes and cultural services. We will work with iwi, Māori and Pasifika to ensure that all children are able to access culturally appropriate care and treatment in both primary and mental healthcare services. We also support the safe and supportive inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in teacher training and development, and partnerships with schools and rainbow youth organisations to reduce the unacceptably high level of poor mental health. We will work to ensure those with additional learning needs are not left behind, but have equal access to medical, wellbeing and education services, helped by the funding of Learning Support Centres.
We support a preventative approach to health and wellbeing too. Hungry, sick kids can’t learn. Since 1999, partnering with Labour-led and National-led governments, the Green Party’s home insulation and heating programmes have warmed up nearly 400,000 homes.
The Green Party agrees with the PPTA’s analysis that Aotearoa is becoming more and more unequal and widespread child poverty is creating educational disparities. Addressing these systemic issues has never been more important and should be done alongside changes to our education system. The Green Party has a Poverty Action Plan that will stop families from falling into poverty and guarantee a basic, liveable income. Children suffer when the welfare system punishes their parents, and in the long term, so do our communities. Our guaranteed minimum income will ensure everyone not in full-time paid work gets at least $325 a week, with significant extra support for those with children. Our reformed Universal Child Benefit would provide $100 a week for every child under three. Our proposal to simplify working for families would see families receive $190 a week for their first child and $120 a week for other children. We are also proposing changes to abatement rates and relationship rules, to allow parents to earn more from part time work before their income support payments reduce.
We believe this plan will level the playing field, and ensure all tamariki living in Aotearoa can live with dignity, put a roof over their heads, and food on the table.
The Green Party does not support charter schools and instead we would like to see flexibility in the education system for diverse types of education, provided the core curriculum is delivered. To promote equal access to education, The Green Party will continue to push for public schools to be fully funded to a level where high quality education is not dependant on the collection of fees, private donations, nor private investment.
We will improve the pay and job status for staff in schools by making sure that remuneration reflects the training and responsibilities, including working towards Fair Pay Agreements.