The Government’s recent school infrastructure announcement excludes State Integrated Schools which they believe breaches their agreement with the Crown, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has said State Integrated Schools can use attendance dues to modernise or upgrade their buildings. Mr Hipkins clearly doesn’t understand his own Government’s responsibilities. Attendance dues are used for the payment down of debt to get the buildings to a state standard. The Crown has accepted the obligation to maintain Integrated School premises in a state of repair comparable to a state school.
“The Integrated Schools have a clear case that if the Crown sees the need to increase maintenance funding for State Schools then the Government has an obligation to provide funding for State Integrated Schools, otherwise the Government is discriminating.
“The Minister needs to fix this mistake quickly, otherwise his Government is heading to Court and the Minister will have to defend what appears to be a clear breach of the agreement with the Crown.
“Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is reported to be having a crisis meeting with the Integrated Schools representatives tonight. Mr Hipkins needs to front up to this meeting and explain why he has potentially broken the agreement.
“But it’s no wonder Mr Hipkins is confused about the agreement given he’s delegated all responsibility for the relationship with the 330 schools to his Associate and hasn’t formally met with the Association of Integrated Schools.
“Mr Hipkins has a habit of rolling out flawed and unfair education policies. The donation scheme excluded a third of schools, the rollout of the learning support coordinator roles was deeply unfair, and this school infrastructure announcement may have broken a fundamental agreement with 330 schools representing 90,000 students.
“It’s time for the Minister to own up to his mistake in leaving Integrated Schools out of the policy change, otherwise his Government is heading to Court.”
National is looking at substantial reform to support children with complex needs so that all children have the opportunity to succeed in life, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National’s vision is to see children funded for their learning and health needs. We know it takes a huge toll on families when they have inadequate support for a child that has additional learning, behavioural and mental health needs.
“We have previously said supporting children with complex needs is not just about additional funding, it is about reforming the system itself to ensure greater collaboration between our health and education system. Today we are proposing a number of policies to address this, including:
- Funding for additional learning support for schools based on need
- Establishing more multidisciplinary teams in secondary schools and early learning centres, equipped with professionals such as GPs, nurses and guidance counsellors
- Incentivising child and youth specialists through scholarships
- An improved legislative framework
“National is also proposing to track the needs of children in a single record. We are focused on a social investment approach that will cater to the needs of every child.
“We believe there needs to be bolder reform so parents and schools have greater certainty about the support available to them.
“National is aspirational for New Zealanders. We want to ensure every child has the support they need to thrive and become healthy, skilled and motivated learners.”
A National Government will lift the quality of teaching and learning in New Zealand because we know a good education creates opportunities, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National values teachers and the role they play in the development of our children. We know one of the single biggest differences that can be made in how well a child does is the quality of their teacher.
“We will focus on ensuring we attract and retain quality teachers and ensure they have ongoing professional development and support for children with complex needs to continue to help change lives.
“Last year Simon Bridges announced a National Government would reduce class sizes in primary schools. Today we have recommitted to this policy and released draft student-teacher ratios for consultation. We believe smaller class sizes will help reduce the workload teachers have.
“Reducing class sizes means we need more teachers. We are proposing a number of ways, including financial incentives, to attract more people to the profession or to get people to return to teaching. We understand the need to have strong recruitment and retention policies to ensure we can deliver the teachers we need.
“We are also considering changes to initial teacher training which include strengthening practicum requirements, accredited schools involved in teacher training and more support for teachers who mentor beginning teachers.
“A quality education comes from our teachers, but it also comes from strengthening the Curriculum. We want local curriculum to thrive and teachers to have world class curriculum resources.
“The document reinforces our commitment to ensure more young people are reading, support for science and technology and languages.
“We support progress reporting and ensuring parents have reliable and trusted information about how their children are doing.
“National knows that if we support teachers through smaller class sizes, if we have a strong curriculum, high quality training, our teachers will have the tools, skills and time to ensure our young people get the best possible education in New Zealand.”
The creation of a hardship fund for Auckland businesses adversely affected by delays to the City Rail Link is a positive step in what has been a very difficult situation, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says.
“After more than six months of advocacy by multiple people and organisations I’m really pleased the Government has agreed, in principle, to make ex-gratia payments for Albert Street businesses.
“Many of these businesses have endured extraordinary disruption, stress and heartbreak. I look forward to seeing detail of the fund and eligibility criteria when it is made public.
“This has never been a dispute about minor roadworks. It has been about significant delays, and for some people a catastrophic impact on their lives.
“I have held several meetings with businesses, councillors, agencies and Heart of the City regarding these issues. We have written numerous letters and held multiple protests to arrive at this point.
“I want to acknowledge Viv Beck and Sunny Kaushal for their hard work, commitment and dedication to resolving these issues. I have worked alongside them, promising businesses from the outset that we would never give up on them.
“I also want to acknowledge the Mayor and councillors for their advocacy on this issue.
“It is really important that local and central government learn lessons from this project. In the long-term it is good that work is being done to develop wider policy to ensure we can minimise disruption where possible to businesses for major infrastructure projects.”
A group of property stakeholders have launched a petition urging the Government to urgently reform the Unit Titles Act, reaffirming support for the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, launched a year ago by National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“Today the Fix the Law for Apartments and Units (FLAU) group has launched a petition in the name of Charles Levin, calling on the government to urgently amend the Unit Titles Act,” Nikki Kaye says.
“Two years and one Housing Minister later, and there has still been no action from the Government in reforming the apartment sector worth more than $50 billion,” Judith Collins says.
“The Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill would strengthen the management of apartments and townhouses and address issues around a lack of transparency and inadequate long term planning.
“We must reduce homeowner disputes in multi-unit dwellings and help facilitate their resolution. For most people their home is the largest asset they have so when things go wrong there can be devastating and life-long impacts.
“The Bill aims to improve the information disclosure regime to prospective buyers of units and strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate. It would increase the professionalism and standards of body corporate managers and ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned,” Judith Collins says.
“After discussions with apartment owners, property and legal organisations including body corporate chairs we know there is huge support for law reform in this area,” Nikki Kaye says.
“I would urge people to sign the petition and show their support for this rapidly growing yet poorly regulated sector.”
It’s not surprising that only a third of schools eligible for the Government’s school donations scheme have taken it up given how unfair and complicated the policy is, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Despite promising to end all school donations, the Government’s school donations policy only covers deciles one to seven, leaving disadvantaged families in schools with high decile ratings in the lurch.
“Principals are starting to see the fishhooks in the Government’s policy. As a result of the new definition and enforcement of guidance, which covers all schools, some schools will have to find funds for stationery, workbooks and day trips because the Ministry considers some of these to be core curriculum and others not.
“Schools in higher deciles feel as though they have been shafted. Not only did the Education Minister exclude them from the policy, but the Ministry is also enforcing new guidance around what schools can or cannot charge, which sees some schools predicting they will lose tens of thousands of dollars.
“One school has estimated it could be $150,000 worse off as a result of both being excluded from the scheme and the enforcement of new guidance on donations. National raised these issues in select committee but the Government refused to listen.
“It’s clear the policy is inequitable and difficult to implement, which is why it’s no surprise schools aren’t jumping to take up the scheme yet. Some schools are still working out how out of pocket they will be, and whether they will have to cut how they provide education in other areas.
“After two years of delays the Minister has admitted the decile system is flawed but is still proceeding with a donations policy based on the decile system.
“The Government has created a very difficult situation for principals and boards who are dealing with parents with high expectations, but the reality is a number of schools are working out they will be worse off as a result of enforcing the new rules and the payment not covering what they ask for now.”
The Government is misleading the public when it says City Rail Link Limited is negotiating with Albert Street businesses so they can receive support following ongoing disruptions from construction, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says.
“Last week Transport Minister Phil Twyford said ‘City Rail Link at my direction are working hand and hand with businesses of lower Albert Street to provide material support for them’, but this is contrary to what the businesses of Albert Street are telling Heart of the City and I.
“When the Prime Minister was asked what this means this morning, she said ‘it means negotiations’ and that the CRL is negotiating with some of the business owners.
“However the 16 businesses we have been liaising with have confirmed none have been approached by CRLL or have been involved in negotiations. CRLL have further confirmed today they have had only one conversation with only one retailer.
“This is quite different to what the Prime Minister implied this morning.
“There is a large group of businesses who have been impacted by ongoing disruptions that no one is negotiating with or having discussions with as implied by the Prime Minister.
“If one business has talked with CRLL then it is important all businesses are offered the same opportunity to have discussions. There needs to be a fair and transparent process.
“The businesses on Albert Street have faced extreme hardship due to ongoing delays with the project and misinformation put out by the Government only distresses them more.
“A petition was launched last week to call for assistance for the businesses and it so far has more than 300 signatures. The businesses will also be protesting in a variety of ways this week.”
The Government’s soft on crime approach has led to an increase in gang membership in the Auckland City area which is very concerning, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“Since October 2017, the number of patched gang members in the Auckland City area has increase by 18 per cent. Across the country, almost 1400 more people have joined gangs.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash has said the Government is ‘winning the war on gangs’, but most people will find that very difficult to believe, especially when the number of gang members has rapidly increased in New Zealand.
“The Minister has also misled New Zealanders by claiming the huge increase is a result of criminals deported from Australia, when his own figures show only 22 people deported are gang members here.
“It’s very simple, an increase in gang membership means an increase in crime in our community and more victims.
“One of the concerning issues involving gangs is their involvement with spreading and profiting from methamphetamine. This drug wrecks lives and the gangs make money out of this and are then able to recruit more people. This drug is hugely harmful to families and communities in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand.
“Last year Police estimate methamphetamine cost the country an estimated $1 billion a year in social harm. With more gangs that means more methamphetamine and more social issues in Auckland.
“Gangs cause misery, are disrespectful and violent, and cause harm to families and communities. The Government doesn’t have a plan to ensure people are safer and to stop the increasing number of gang members. National is the party of law and order and we will release a comprehensive Gang Plan in 2020 that will crack down hard on gangs.”
A table outlining the increase in gang membership broken down by Police district can be found HERE.
A table showing 22 deported criminals are gang members can be found HERE.
Small school bus and van operators are worried they can’t compete with large operators and will be cut out of the Government’s new school transport tender system, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While the Ministry regularly undertakes contract tenders for school transport providers, this tender covers the majority of daily school bus routes and it’s been many years since there was a tender this size.
“Instead of being clear with all operators on how these contracts will be allocated, the Government is keeping quiet. Small operators in some rural communities are worried they could be out of a job as they say the new system favours large operators.
“If these businesses fail then it could impact how children get to and from other community activities, like camps.
“There have been numerous instances where the Ministry of Education has got it wrong when it comes to transport as it just doesn’t seem to understand how school transport operates in isolated areas.
“Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa agreed to meet with industry representatives recently to discuss the issue but postponed twice before deciding she was not going to have a meeting.
“She has failed to communicate to providers on this issue. While it is important Ministers don’t get involved in the operational detail of a tender, they should still be able to discuss the general impact to services and schools and engage with industry on general policy issues.
“There are small operators who are very worried they will have to lose their businesses. The livelihoods of these people are at risk, and the Minister won’t talk to them.
“There is a big gap between the Government’s spin on this issue and what providers say is happening on the ground.
“The Minister needs to front up to school bus operators and answer their questions.”
Local businesses are petitioning Parliament to call for assistance after significant disruption and delays as a result of City Rail Link (CRL) construction, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“It’s been around six months since I first met with Albert Street businesses impacted by CRL disruption.
“In that time we have had several meetings with councillors, City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) officials and council officers. A month ago I met with the Minister of Transport and I’ve also written to the Mayor and the Minister advocating for local businesses. There has been a lot of discussion but little action.
“Council has implied that they may have made a proposal to Government but if this exists it is not public.
“Businesses on Albert Street have faced extreme hardship as a result of significant delays with the project. In other jurisdictions the Ministry has acknowledged business disruption where there have been significant delays and supported businesses.
“Documents obtained under the Official Information Act reveal under the original design for the City Rail Link a plan was developed to reduce disruption which was in my view not adequately followed. CRLL has treated businesses poorly and at times failed to adequately communicate with them.
“The reality is, this is an extraordinary situation where the length of delay has ruined the lives of businesses owners in the area. I have worked closely with Heart of the City, who represent businesses in Auckland Central and who have now set up a petition which I will present to Parliament to consider these issues once we have obtained signatures.
“These people deserve much better. I encourage people to sign the petition and I hope that the Government and Council will act to provide greater support.”