Thursday, April 18, 2024

National vows to raise standards for school pupils

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National Party leader Christopher Luxon, second from left, visited Cockle Bay School with Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, left, and National’s Remutaka general election candidate Emma Chatterton, rear. Times photo Chris Harrowell

The National Party will rewrite the school curriculum to raise educational standards for Kiwi pupils should it be elected to Government at this year’s general election.

Party leader and Botany MP Christopher Luxon says the policy will ensure every Kiwi child has the basic skills they need in reading, writing, maths and science to set them up for further education and for life.

He announced the first part of National’s education policy, ‘Teaching the Basics Brilliantly’, on March 23.

The following day he was joined on a visit to Cockle Bay School to promote the policy by Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Emma Chatterton, the party’s general election candidate for the Remutaka electorate.

Luxon was full of praise for the school, which he attended as a child, but during a speech the same week he said the current state of New Zealand’s education system is “alarming”.

“National will not allow this to continue. National will make sure every child leaving primary and intermediate school can master the basics so they can succeed at high school and lead fulfilling lives.”

He said a recent pilot of NCEA reading, writing and maths assessment found two-thirds of secondary school pupils failed to reach the minimum level the OECD says is necessary to succeed in further learning, life, and work.

“Worse, the school system’s ineffectiveness is most pronounced in low-income areas, with just two per cent of decile-one high school students able to pass a basic writing test, and just 10 per cent passing maths. ”

Just over two decades ago New Zealand was in the top 10 countries for maths, reading and science, but is now outside the top 10 for all three subjects, Luxon said. In maths it’s fallen from fourth to 27th.

“The results in education today are more than disappointing. They are more than frustrating.

“They are unacceptable and a Government that I lead will make it a priority to turn them around.”

Luxon said National will target having 80 per cent of year 8 school pupils at or above the expected curriculum level for their age in reading, writing, maths, and science by 2030.

And it will aim to return New Zealand school pupils to the top 10 in the world in maths, reading and science according to international rankings by 2033.

He said a National Government will require all primary and intermediate schools to provide at least one hour each on reading, writing, and maths, on average, daily.

It will also rewrite the curriculum to clearly state what must be taught each year in reading, writing, maths and science to every school year group.

National will require standardised “robust” assessment at least twice a year in reading, writing and maths for pupils in years 3-8 to check their progress, with detailed results being reported to parents.

Luxon said his Government will ensure teachers and trainee teachers spend more time learning how to teach the basics and “we’ll provide them with more classroom tools to help them teach reading, writing and maths brilliantly”.

National will also deliver a central resource bank of high-quality teaching resources that support the curriculum as well as scrap teacher registration fees.

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