- By Christopher Luxon, National Party Leader and MP for Botany
Education achievement has been in decline for the last 30 years and a recent NCEA pilot exposed just how far achievement has fallen.
It showed that two-thirds of New Zealand students failed to pass the new minimum literacy and numeracy standards for NCEA, while 98 per cent of Decile One Year 10 students failed a basic writing test.
This is utterly unacceptable.
National believes our kids should be totally focussed on learning the basics, so last week I was proud to announce a ban on cell phone use in schools.
National has already announced our Teaching the Basics Brilliantly plan, which will ensure every primary and intermediate pupil has one hour each of reading, writing and maths every day.
To make the most of that, cell phones will be off and out-of-reach for the entire day – not just class time.
Teachers and parents have told us the use of devices is affecting schoolwork and contributing to a lack of socialisation during breaks – and social media is a perpetrator of bullying.
Research also indicates there are health and social benefits to reducing screen time.
Many schools here and overseas have experienced positive outcomes, including improved achievement, after banning the use of cell phones.
Student achievement has declined over the past three decades, jeopardising kids’ future livelihoods and threatening New Zealand’s future prosperity.
While New Zealand once ranked in the top 10 OECD nations in maths, science, and reading, we have fallen outside the top 10 in all three core subjects and more than half of Year 8 students are behind expectations in maths, science and writing according to the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement.
Schools will be able to decide exactly how they enforce the cell phone ban, but it could mean requiring students to hand in their phones before school or leave them in their lockers or bags.
Parents will still be able to contact students via the school office, and exceptions for students with health conditions or special circumstances will be permitted.
Education should be the great enabler that means every New Zealand child can pursue their aspirations regardless of where they start in life.
However, when half of Year 10 students cannot meet basic reading and writing benchmarks needed to succeed in further learning, work, and life, we are failing our children.