News that half the schools in Auckland are getting fewer teachers at a time of rapid population growth is unbelievable, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“To think we are in a time of swelling population growth, with teachers struggling to cope with workload and the Ministry’s response has been to decrease many schools teacher allocation is incompetent.
“It is clear that the issue may be wider than Auckland with principals across the country concerned about their staffing entitlement for next year and concerns about staffing entitlements for Communities of Learning.
“The Minister must review these processes as the situation is completely unsatisfactory.
"National knows that more teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most. To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need more face time with teachers.
“That’s why last year National announced that if elected in 2020, we will invest to reduce teacher ratios and class sizes.”
News that a principal was awarded contracts with the Ministry of Education worth hundreds of thousands of dollars while under investigation for sleeping naked with students needs an independent investigation, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Teaching Council Disciplinary Tribunal recently cancelled Principal Uenuku Fairhall’s practicing certificate after describing his conduct as ‘disgraceful’. The Tribunal found Fairhall slept in the same bed as a student while naked, asked a student to remove their underwear, and engaged in sexualised talk with students.
“Allegations against Fairhall go back to February 2017. On 31 March 2017, a Deputy Secretary, Katrina Casey confirmed to the Rotorua Daily Post that the Ministry had been made aware of the allegations on 15 March 2017.
“The Ministry previously defended using Fairhall’s company, for which he is the sole director, and said ‘we did not work with Mr Fairhall at any time’. However, his company was contracted to provide Māori medium learning resources for schools and the Ministry while he was under investigation by the Tribunal.
“Fairhall’s work for the Ministry included at least three videos that were uploaded to the Ministry of Education Vimeo page in July 2018, over a year after allegations were first made. Fairhall features in these videos and his name is included in the titles. These videos have now been taken down. The Ministry now claims this was an administrative error.
“Regardless of why this occurred it is insensitive to the children involved in this case and shows a sloppy approach. Natural justice is important, but the Ministry should not have been awarding contracts given the serious allegations.
“The Minister has taken a very relaxed approach, stating he was satisfied the Ministry had acted appropriately, and quickly enough, following the announcement of the Teaching Council decision. After further questioning by media in the last few days, the Minister has now said Fairhall should not have been contracted.
“While the Ministry has now agreed to strengthen its information sharing with the Teaching Council and review how contracts are commissioned, it should not have taken Newshub media inquiries for this to have happened.
“An independent investigation is needed to look into the Ministry’s processes given the changing nature of their statements and their systems around contracting people being investigated for serious allegations.
“I am calling on the Minister to establish an independent investigation into this issue.”
A high level timeline of Ministry of Education involvement is here.
The Government must halt the Learning Support Coordinator (LSC) roll out upon news that the New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) has deemed it flawed and unworkable, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“News that NZEI principals are consulting their members on requesting the Government to halt the roll out of Learning Support Coordinators is not surprising.
“I’ve been inundated with principals and schools claiming the roll out is inequitable.
“The Government has not been transparent as to how they allocated the LSC’s. Some allocations have been based on the Learning Support Model but it’s clear that this isn’t the full story behind the distribution.
“Proactively released documents show the Ministry indicated it would be difficult to fill rolls in certain parts of New Zealand due to teacher supply.
“The Associate Education Minister’s response to this concern was to suggest a possible reallocation of LSC roles so that other areas could get more LSC’s. This is a shambolic process.
“The Prime Minister and Tracey Martin announced these coordinators nine months ago but have failed to get the sector on board.
“In addition to the allocation concerns, there is a concern by some that the roll out will be too focussed on administration and not deliver enough front line support.
“The Government needs to listen to the sector who are arguing for the Minister to go back to the drawing board on this flawed policy.
“Children with complex needs are depending on the Minister to get it right.”
The Prime Minister’s announcement that around 120 primary schools will get access to universal free lunches is a well-meaning pilot but is badly designed and will leave thousands of children in early learning centres and high schools unable to get support for years to come, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National invested in the successful Kickstart programme which partners with Sanitarium and Fonterra to provide breakfast clubs to all schools who want it across all deciles one to ten. It reaches more than 1000 schools and kura and around 30,000 children. We also provided funding for the fruit in schools programme and KidsCan.
“Our approach was based on schools determining their need, rather than a one size fits all blanket approach. Some schools may choose to feed all of their children but many schools acknowledge not all children need food. The success and low cost of the programme we delivered is due to its work with partners who leverage existing infrastructure, suppliers and food distribution networks.
“The Government’s approach has failed to consider that most schools do not have the infrastructure such as kitchens for large scale food preparation and storage. There is minimal funding in this scheme for equipment. The scheme is designed with maximum work for the school unlike the majority of other successful schemes operating now.
“Taxpayer funding is being used for this policy which is ill thought through and lacks detail. National also understands that a significant sum of money will be spent on officials and evaluation rather than actual lunches.
“The intention of this universal policy is to reduce social stigma for children but it ignores the fact that many schools have developed approaches to ensure children are provided a free lunch in a sensitive and confidential way.
“If this is the beginning of a universal free lunch programme for all schools, this would cost hundreds of millions and take away the autonomy of parents to provide lunch for their children.
“This nanny state policy is putting a bandaid over an issue with no plan to address the fact that seven of nine child poverty indicators have worsened under this Government. National believes it is the responsibility of parents to feed their children, but through targeted support with trusted organisations we can help children in need.
“National would support a decision to invest more to ensure children in hardship get access to nutritious food. However, the Government could use the money more effectively to reach the tens of thousands of children in high schools and early childhood centres who will miss out under this scheme by working with organisations already doing this work.”
The Government’s Bill to amend the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to allow licensed premises to remain open for Rugby World Cup (RWC) matches is a step in the right direction, but the lack of detail is a concern, National’s Sports and Recreation spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National raised these issues at Parliament’s Business committee a month ago and the Government is only just responding now. As a result there is now tight timeframes to consider this law, so it is important we see the detail as soon as possible.
“National is still worried about the approximately 40,000 households who may not have access to all the games due to no connections, substandard connections or affordability. Ensuring rural areas have adequate access to the games is crucial and we want to make sure the licensing rules are flexible enough to accommodate pubs and clubs in rural areas.
“We’ve worked alongside David Seymour and organisations who represent pubs and clubs such as Hospitality NZ and Clubs NZ on this issue. We believe that in the long run it’s important we have a better licensing regime for major sporting events that means Parliament doesn’t have to pass a rushed law every time.
“We hope to see the detail of proposed legislation as soon as possible so these issues can be worked through given the tight timeframes with a Select Committee considering these issues next week.”
National is pushing for extended opening hours so that more New Zealanders can watch Rugby World Cup (RWC) games, National’s Sports and Recreation spokesperson Nikki Kaye says
“Estimates indicate that there are around 40,000 households who will not have access to RWC broadcasts. For them it may be the case they have to go to a local sports club, RSA or pub to watch the game.
“Rural communities and other parts of New Zealand don’t have access to coverage of the games due to a lack of broadband connections or substandard connections.
“Clubs NZ has said that half of their clubs, which includes RSAs, won’t have licences that go late enough for them to show all the RWC games.
“National raised these issues at Parliament’s Business committee a month ago but it appears nothing has happened. With only a month until the World Cup kicks off it is important these issues are resolved quickly.
“Hospitality NZ has said that extended opening hours without the need for special licenses could help an estimated 60 per cent of their members, who are otherwise likely to have issues with being open during some games.
“In 2015 National supported the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Rugby World Cup 2015 Extended Trading Hours) Amendment Bill. David Seymour is also introducing a Members Bill this time around and we will support that.
“National is also looking into wider law changes around events like this, to ensure there doesn’t need to be specific amendments made every time they occur.
“Kiwi rugby fans cannot wait for the Government to get its act together. National will be pushing for this issue to be dealt with urgently.”
An Education Review Office report on the Government’s Digital Technologies (DT) curriculum demonstrating over one-third of schools surveyed have no understanding of how to implement it is very concerning, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“Only about half of respondents felt it was easy to locate content information. Of the remainder, 35 per cent found it difficult and 14 per cent had not even started looking.
“On the DT curriculum, one principal explained ‘We’ve missed out in the past; the process is onerous; haven’t tried again’.
“National is hugely committed to upskilling our young New Zealanders for the digital world. That’s why we invested over $40 million to support the uptake of digital technologies as a key part of the curriculum.
“There is clearly a professional learning and development (PLD) issue. One principal complained, ‘The PLD model puts up barriers to accessing PLD, the complicated process of applying makes it very difficult to get good-quality providers when we need them.’
“This is a government that has been more focussed on reviews than implementing core curriculum and as a result children are missing out.
“It is clear that the government has not provided adequate information to schools or professional development to ensure teachers are ready to deliver the digital curriculum.
“The Minister needs to urgently rectify this so schools can be equipped to ensure children are digitally fluent by next year. It is clear that the previous government’s target of mandating the digital technologies curriculum by 2020 is seriously at risk.”
A number of principals are disappointed with the Government’s unfair and inequitable allocation of learning support coordinators around New Zealand, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Earlier this week, Tracey Martin said she was ‘really pleased’ with her allocation of the policy and would not change her decisions, despite many schools with disadvantaged kids missing out.
“The Minister justified the backlash on her policy by stating ‘We seem to live in a world where somebody’s got to complain about everything’.
“Parents and principals have told me they are disappointed with the allocation. For example, only a couple of learning support coordinators have been allocated to north of Whangarei – this is unacceptable.
“Information released showed Oranga Tamariki raised concerns about the way this crucial learning support is allocated.
“The Minister has taken a ‘Yes Minister’ approach rather than focussing on targeting areas with children in need.
“I am calling on the Minister to either provide additional support to cover neglected areas, or change her allocation to be more fair and equitable so that children with complex needs get the support that they deserve.”
The Government’s announcement of more learning support coordinators has been allocated in a way which is deeply unfair and will see the schools most in need missing out, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While it’s positive to have additional learning support coordinators, the Government took nine months to sort this out and hasn’t done the work to make sure the coordinators are going where they are most needed.
“It appears the Government was not looking at which schools have the most need but instead has only allocated to schools who are currently implementing the Government’s learning support delivery model.
“I have been contacted by upset and angry principals who have huge need and weren’t offered the opportunity to be part of this and didn’t know this would be the criteria.
“This means a school that may already have huge resource might get one or two people and schools with little or no resource with high needs miss out. Just like the school donation scheme this Government is not targeted and has demonstrated dumb decisions which entrench inequity.
“Nine months ago the Prime Minister committed to 600 learning support coordinators in schools by early 2020. We know the delay means many schools are unlikely to get the person in time for term one.
“We still don’t have the answers to teacher shortages and whether schools will be able to fill those 600 roles.
“The recent learning support action plan is not funded in a number of areas with some criticising it will take six years to deal with the waiting lists.
“This Government promised big in education but time and time again it has broken its promises to New Zealanders and failed to deliver.”
Questions around the Government’s vague donations policy and whether schools will still be able to ask for payments towards camps or other outdoor education programmes needs to be resolved quickly, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Several weeks ago Education Minister Chris Hipkins was forced to confirm he would have to change his school donations policy so schools would be able to charge for camps, and still claim the $150 per student government grant.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the final detail around school camps and activities and will what can’t be asked for if a school takes the donation payment.
“Schools around the country have open evenings for parents coming up, and they need the details now so they can communicate what the school will be delivering next year.
“Principals have reported to me they are aware that the Minister plans to provide a legislative fix for the school camp issue. An SOP tabled directly in the House would deliberately bypass the Select Committee process and in my view is about the Minister’s desire to reduce scrutiny of the policy and not be accountable for his policy botch up.
“Schools wouldn’t be in this situation if Mr Hipkins had worked out the details of his policy at the outset and not rushed the Bill through Select Committee.
“School camps are important learning opportunities for children, and a key part of Kiwi children’s learning experience. The Minister needs to be clear about the detail of the policy regarding school camps and outdoor education.
“The Bill is scheduled to come back to the House next week, but schools want the information now.”