The Equal Pay Amendment Bill risks significantly delaying pay equity for part-time teachers, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The transitional provisions of the Bill will put at risk existing pay equity cases that are currently before the Employment Relations Authority and the Courts.
“This is a departure from earlier legislation and will delay some cases considerably, including the PPTA’s pay equity claim for part-time secondary teachers.
“The PPTA has been working towards pay equity for part-time secondary teachers. Discontinuing its claim would cost years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the PPTA has indicated it will be seeking compensation from the Government if this comes to pass.
“It also appears that the Ministry of Justice’s Bill Of Rights Act analysis was based on an earlier version of the Bill that didn't include the transitional provisions, as it doesn’t mention them. This demonstrates an alarming level of incompetence from the Government.
“National is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand, which is why we support this Bill as a step toward closing the gender pay gap and ensuring female dominated jobs are paid fairly. However, the transitional provisions are flawed and will only serve to delay or put at risk completely existing pay equity claims.
“The Government need to show some respect for the considerable expense, resources and effort that have been put into existing pay equity cases over many years. The Bill must be rewritten to give claimants the option for current cases already in the pipeline to be considered under the current law.”
There has been huge interest from communities since National announced its Future of Education public meetings with a focus on the Tomorrow’s Schools proposals and wider education issues, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Because of such high demand, and our desire to ensure that as many people as possible can attend, we are looking to fit in 40 meetings over eight weeks. We are securing dates, times and centres for all the 40 meetings which will be updated on the National Party website.
“Unfortunately, the rapidly approaching deadline for the Tomorrow’s Schools consultation of early April means that it’s not possible to hold a meeting in every electorate. However, I will be travelling the country to hold meetings in most of the major town centres from Kerikeri to Stewart Island.
“The meetings will be jointly hosted by myself and the local National MPs, some members of National’s Education Caucus will also be in attendance. I plan to attend all of the 40 meetings.
“National has also welcomed a request by the Chair of the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce, Bali Haque, to have some of the taskforce or officials attend some of our meetings as part of their own public consultation process.
“National want to ensure that the 19,000 trustees on school boards and hundreds of thousands of parents have the opportunity to have a good understanding of the proposals. To ensure this we will be providing factual information on the changes as well as seeking feedback.
“I will provide the feedback from our public meetings to the taskforce before the consultation process closes.
“I expect that an important part of the meetings will also be discussions around wider issues in education including NCEA changes, school property and additional learning needs.
“The Tomorrow’s Schools proposals represent the largest education reforms in over thirty years, and we want to ensure more parents, educators and communities have the opportunity to be heard.”
National’s Future of Education meeting schedule available here.
National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says teacher vacancy figures being reported do not reflect an accurate picture of the retention and recruitment issues faced by schools and that the Government must do more to address the shortages.
“The fact that some Ministry reports indicate that one in six schools have several vacancies in areas like Auckland is hugely problematic and shows that the Government must address this issue as a matter of urgency.
“We also know that the figures the Ministry are quoting are only estimates and that a better picture will emerge over the coming weeks as principals finalise rolls and curriculum areas.
“Retention and recruitment issues are problematic for teachers, students and their families who are facing larger class sizes and additional stress as a result.
“National has previously proposed extending voluntary bonding to areas like all of Auckland. Schools would have had fewer vacancies if this policy had been implemented. The Government should also be providing additional investment in programmes like Teach NZ which help incentivise people into the profession.
“This is a big year for education with a number of challenges ahead including potential strikes at both primary and secondary levels. One of the core issues for secondary teachers in areas like Auckland is the rising cost of living which has been raised in their claim.
“The Ministry know that the long term shortages projected can’t be resolved without policy changes. Despite this they are yet to produce the long term workforce development strategy which they have been working on for close to a year and a half.
“National also supports reducing class sizes. It’s clear from recent surveys that a number of teachers are under stress, and smaller class sizes would help reduce this and support greater retention of teachers.
“As children are heading back to school for another year, parents are starting to ask questions about Labour’s broken promises such as working to scrap school donations.”
National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye will hold public meetings throughout New Zealand to listen to parents and teachers concerns and views on education issues. The meetings will have a particular focus on the Tomorrow’s Schools Review.
“The review has the potential to impact every part of our education system. That’s why it’s very important to give parents, students, teachers, principals and the around 19,000 parents and trustees who currently sit on boards the opportunity to have their voice heard.
“The Tomorrow’s Schools Review Taskforce has undertaken significant consultation but it is clear from discussions with a number of parents, Boards of Trustees and some educators they are not aware of all of the recommendations.
“I expect we will hold at least 30 public meetings throughout the country from February to April next year with local Members of Parliament. Once complete, we will provide a summary of the feedback from the public meetings to the taskforce.
“National has raised some serious concerns about the creation of around 20 new Crown entities called Education Hubs, which would transfer more responsibilities from parents to bureaucrats. We are concerned that parents will be disempowered as a result of the model.
“However, there are some positive aspects of the report in areas such as learning support and we believe there is a need to improve governance and collaboration in our education system. The proposed changes are far reaching and must be carefully considered.
“The meetings will include main centres such as Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill but will also be held in smaller communities such as Stewart Island. We will be working over the next three to four weeks to finalise the arrangements for the meetings.
“The changes proposed by the taskforce cover almost every aspect of our school system, including governance, teaching and learning, learning support, and enrolment schemes.
“This is a once in a generation chance to make some significant changes to our education system. I look forward to engaging with communities around New Zealand on these issues.”
Recent news that some schools will be losing ESOL funding due to a change made in the last few weeks by the Ministry means that schools have little time to adapt or ensure there is adequate ESOL funding, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The changes that have been made by the Ministry appear to mean that all migrants attract the same rate of funding.
“We know that there can be a huge difference in the amount of support that migrants need. For example, some refugee children might need more support compared to other migrants.
“We recognised the need for investment in this area and in Budget 2017 National announced an additional $9.4 million for students learning English as a second language.
“A change to this funding formula will have a huge impact on the distribution of funding for some schools. For the Ministry to have done this when most schools were about to finish for the year is incompetent and careless.
“I am aware that some principals have been trying to clarify exactly what their funding is. It is clear that there are some schools that have large numbers of refugee students who will be worse off.
“If the system is going to change then at least there needs to be a transition period so schools can work out how to deal with the funding shortfalls.
“Between the Ministry and the Minister, they need to resolve this swiftly so that schools can go into the new year not having to worry about potentially fundraising for some of their most vulnerable students.”
National has gained support from the major political parties for its second language learning Bill which will ensure every child in years 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“As a diverse country it’s important that New Zealand embraces second language learning. Speaking more than one language has enormous cognitive, cultural, social and economic benefits, so this Bill presents a big opportunity for our country.
“I expect the languages that would be consulted on would include Mandarin, Māori, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Hindi and Pasifika languages.
“The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Labour Party will support my second language learning Bill at First Reading. This Bill would see a final list of 10 or more priority languages resourced for teaching by schools including Te Reo and sign language.
“The Green Party has also agreed to support the Bill at first reading. The Green Party has a strong interest in ensuring that we strengthen access to Te Reo in schools which would be achieved with this legislation. The Act Party has also confirmed its support for the Bill.
“The Bill will now go to select committee so the public, organisations and communities can have their say. Issues that will be worked through at select committee include details around investing in workforce development to ensure we have the teachers and ensuring adequate time is given for schools to implement this. This could be phased in over a number of years.
“School boards would consult with their communities to determine which of the priority languages will be taught at their school. Every school would be required to deliver at least one second language, but some may choose to offer more than one.
“As an Opposition MP, I am focused on holding the Government to account, but I am also committed to working constructively on education policy where possible and offering opportunities for cross-party collaboration like this Bill. I would like to thank Education Minister Chris Hipkins for his engagement and support on this Bill.
“This is a very significant step for greater support for the future of second language learning and our future. I am looking forward to a national conversation about my Bill and how it can create smarter, more culturally aware New Zealanders who are better equipped to succeed in our globally connected world.”
Proposed changes to New Zealand’s education system are concerning, particularly proposals to take power away from parents, and must be carefully considered, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National agrees with the need for structural change, better governance and greater collaboration, however these proposed changes are far reaching and must be carefully considered.
“We have serious concerns about the creation of around 20 new Crown entities called Education Hubs, which would transfer more responsibilities from parents to bureaucrats. We will fight to ensure parents continue to have a strong role in the education of their children.
“While the report is short on detail on how the Hubs would work, it’s clear they would see a major reduction in the power and duties of Boards of Trustees and parents in our education system, including taking responsibility for expulsions and exclusions, final decision making rights on enrolments and zoning, and the employment of principals. Around 19,000 parents and trustees who currently sit on boards could be relegated to advisors with little ability to influence the education of children.
“With the creation of around 20 Hubs supporting around 125 schools each being recommended, there will be concerns about the costs of this number of Crown entities and whether we will end up creating further bureaucracy. Hubs will also make decisions on the appointment of principals who will be employed on five year terms and potentially moved from school to school.
“These changes cover almost every aspect of our school system, including governance, teaching and learning, learning support, and enrolment schemes.
“National will play a significant role in public consultation to ensure these issues are appropriately considered, including holding public meetings to ensure that peoples’ voices are heard.
“National recognises the hard work of the independent taskforce in trying to come to grips with the complex and hard issues. We see merit in some of the recommendations, especially around learning support and the adoption of an equity index, which is something we have previously advocated for.
“We understand that this is a once in a generation chance to make some significant changes to our education system and look forward to carefully considering policy implications and necessarily scrutinising areas of concern.”
National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye is concerned for students and parents potentially facing continued strikes in 2019 as the Government has yet again failed to reach an agreement with both the primary and secondary education sectors.
“The news late last night that NZEI have overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s third pay offer means that there is a high likelihood of strikes at the beginning of next year.
“The PPTA have also confirmed that they have rejected the Government’s third secondary offer and are also likely to be heading towards strikes early in 2019.
“13 months in and the Government continues to blame National rather than recognise it has been gifted billions of dollars to bargain in good faith with and could use to resolve issues of supply, workload and pay. National did not have the choices that this Government has - this Government announced more than $900 million of expenditure in November alone.
“This is why it’s hard to believe Mr Hipkins when he says there is ‘no more money’. Now, despite a lot of talk in Opposition, Labour have taken teachers for granted and favoured tertiary students by using huge amounts of education cash on a failed fees free policy.
“Both the primary and secondary education sectors have a raft of issues that they have raised in their claims which have not been addressed including recruitment and retention issues.
“Yesterday in Parliament the Minister tried to claim there are around 200 vacancies in secondary schools, but principal surveys indicate this number is more likely to more than 1400. It is clear the Minister is out of touch with the very real situation in many schools.
“Earlier this year National confirmed our position regarding supporting a reduction in class sizes which would help with teacher workload. Despite campaigning on this in Opposition for many years the Government and some Labour MPs campaigning at the election the Government has not shifted on this in collective bargaining.
“With both primary and secondary schools striking, parent’s and families will be feeling uneasy about going into the holiday break knowing that another year of disruption in schools is ahead of them.
“The prospect of school wide strikes means that the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education should be working through the summer break to try and prevent multiple strikes in 2019. We need these issues resolved so there is no further impact on students.”
The Government has failed to give certainty of funding for the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) Primary which supports more than 1000 students with their contract expiring in a few weeks, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“At a meeting of the Education select committee today VLN Primary who provide online learning programmes for Communities of Online Learning (COOLs) confirmed that they have not secured funding for the future despite Ministers previously saying they were looking into it.
“National opposes the Government’s removal of COOLs which provide greater opportunities for young people through digital technologies. A number of submitters to the select committee have been asking for an alternative regulatory framework so it is very disappointing that the Government has not provided this.
“With the rise in online learning it is crucial that we get a system in place that provides adequate funding and expands opportunities where there are hard to staff areas or subjects. The Government’s answer is importing large numbers of teachers from overseas when online learning is one additional mechanism that could be used.
“However, this is not possible due to the vacuum that exists around the policy and the future of providers like VLN Primary who have been hugely successful with the number of students in their network growing five times. The Government needs to urgently give the organisation certainty of its future as parents and students deserve to know.
“The Government has demonstrated it has no plan to support online learning in the interim while the education conversations occur.
“The Education Amendment Bill (No.2) also enables the Minister to issue Government policy directions relating to the Education Council’s functions. This is being criticised heavily by a range of stakeholders including large unions who have argued this undermines the independence of the profession.
“There is widespread confusion about what the law will actually mean for example if the council disagree with Government policy.
“The Government has been very hypocritical on this issue given that it has trumpeted the independence of the council in its previous changes to the law.”
After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has huge support from the public, property and legal industry, but Housing Minister Phil Twyford has refused to progress the legislation, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye say.
“There is a huge opportunity here to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes,” Ms Collins says.
“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“While the Minister supported reform, earlier this year he said he was too busy to draft the law. Mr Twyford chose not to support the legislation as parts of the Bill don’t align with officials’ recommendations and there was a need for additional provisions.
“National has worked alongside property and legal experts for several years to pull together more than 20 pages of legislation. The issues stated by the Minister could have been raised in Select Committee. The reality is no Bill goes to Select Committee in a perfect form.
“It is very clear this isn’t about the detail of the Bill, the Minister is more interested in playing politics and stalling a National Party piece of legislation than ensuring homeowners don’t end up with defective buildings, in disputes and with substandard information about what they are buying into,” Ms Collins says.
“These situations have hit young homeowners and vulnerable people more as they are more likely to afford apartments or townhouses. Mr Twyford has prioritised politics over people and their need for better housing,” Ms Kaye says.
“In Opposition Mr Twyford was vocal for his support for reform. Many in the sector will feel hugely let down and misled by a Minister who indicated this was a priority and is also signalling he will progress the results of the review when ‘priorities and resources permit’.
“This is a Government that campaigned on housing but isn’t following through.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Underinvestment and inadequate long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur and increases in body corporate fees.
“The Minister’s true colours have shone through. Mr Twyford has chosen to play politics instead of respecting the work that has gone into this and progressing this legislation that will improve the quality of housing for all. National will keep fighting hard to keep the pressure on this Government to prioritise this reform,” Ms Kaye says.