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Just when everyone thought the Government had run out of things to review it has announced a review of the education system, complete with more taskforces and summits but scant of any real detail, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye and Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith say.

“It is concerning that this major review will be led by a Minister who has a track record for being big on ideology but bad at process, as demonstrated by the partnership schools and National Standards debacles,” Ms Kaye says.

“It is unfair and disruptive to students, parents and teachers that every time there is a new Government, there are major changes to the education system which is why National wants to work with the Government on these reforms to ensure there is better political consensus.

“We know there are areas that need improvement but we shouldn’t make change for change’s sake. The Government must recognise that there are areas of education that are working very well. For example, Maori and Pasifika achievement has increased significantly in the last decade so we must continue that momentum.

“We have already said we would be keen to work with the Government on areas where we can get cross-party agreement, such as the 30-year plan. However the process matters and it needs to involve collaborative decision-making rather than tick-box consultations with the Opposition and other stakeholders.

“So far there is very little information about what exactly the Government will be reviewing and the devil will be in the detail.”

Mr Goldsmith says it’s all very well for the Government to review vocational education and the need for quality research in the tertiary education sector, but the funding levers available to them will be severely limited.

“Given the Government has already decided to spend all of its $2.8 billion tertiary education investment on grossly untargeted student support, it will be severely short of cash to make any real investment to improve the quality of education.

“Rather than grandly announce more reviews, Mr Hipkins should explain what exactly New Zealanders are getting from the massive investment in tertiary education. Early indications suggest virtually no extra students are enrolling, which must be hard for the institutions and providers to stomach given they are getting no new funding to improve their quality.

“The Government must provide more detail about its review and prove that it’s not simply a smokescreen to distract from the fact it has little cash left to make any real improvements.”

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