Today I held a meeting with the Chief Executive of Fullers Group and the Chair of the local board for Waiheke Cath Handley, where we raised issues of poor service, including massive queues, delayed sailings, reduced sailings and some boats leaving half full, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says.
“Ms Handley and I have had a constructive meeting with Fullers where they acknowledged some issues relating to their services. In the short term they will improve staff resources for wharf management and look at prioritising people who are elderly or frail. But we also need to look at ferry statistics, user experiences and complaints to improve services in the future.
“There needs to be big changes in the way we manage our ferry system. Waiheke and Great Barrier are isolated islands and there can be significant social and economic impacts on people when things go wrong.
“There is a case for change to the status of exempt routes which cover Waiheke and Great Barrier Island. We either need to remove the exemption from the Public Transport Operating Model, which would impact Fullers commercially, or come up with an alternative to ensure greater guarantees around the quality of what are essential services to the islands.
“We need to ensure the redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal is progressed in a timely manner and that there is fair access to ferry berths. One issue is the lack of competition in the ferry market, with previous companies dropping out of the market citing issues with accessing ferry berths as hindering their ability to deliver services and compete.
“It is important that phase two of the terminal redevelopment ensures Waiheke and Devonport are properly prioritised in terms of their volume of trips.
“Another issue is integrated ticketing. Auckland Council are progressing integrated ticketing for Auckland, however reports that Waiheke could be exempt from this is concerning. It will mean islanders and tourists will miss out on seamless services, but also discounts on public transport.
“We can no longer afford to have a relaxed approach. The tensions raised by commuters are real and will continue unless we can get real movement on these issues to guarantee greater oversight and continuity of services.
“Waiheke Island is home to around 9500 people and is a popular tourist destination. Aucklanders need to have confidence in a ferry system that is on track to expand from 6 million trips to 9 million trips by 2025.
“I want to acknowledge Cath Handley, Chair of the Waiheke Local Board, for her work in raising these issues.
“Waiheke is a world class destination but is receiving a substandard service. Ferries are an important part of Auckland’s future, but there needs to be change to ensure continuity and decent oversight of the service, fair access to improved infrastructure and improved integrated ticketing.”
With the news today area schools have planned to join next week’s mega-strike, there will be another 2300 teachers on the streets causing further disruption to parents and students, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance need to step in and be a circuit breaker to help resolve the strikes. The strike has grown larger and the industrial action is expected to involve 50,000 teachers.
“The PPTA have confirmed for secondary students potential dates over a five week period which include regional strikes and year level strikes. For some parents with secondary students they could be facing more than three days of industrial action.
“Teachers, students and parents need to see collective bargaining resolved. Children are suffering with thousands of hours of teaching lost.
“In Parliament this week Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the gridlock will remain because he refused to rule out changing the bargaining parameters.
“He also said yesterday teachers will be disappointed in the upcoming Budget, which does not bode well for resolving the collective bargaining. This isn’t fair on students, it isn’t fair on parents, and it isn’t fair on teachers who would prefer to be in the classroom.
“The Government’s wasteful spending on the fees-free flop and the education underspend makes a mockery of the Minister and Prime Minister’s statement that there is no more money. The gridlock needs to end, otherwise strike action and disruption looks set to continue for weeks to come.”
The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to step in and help Education Minister Chris Hipkins by providing a circuit breaker to resolve the strikes, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Mr Hipkins has overseen gridlock in collective bargaining for over 12 months with primary teachers and more than eight months with secondary teachers.
“The PPTA has authorised ‘other’ industrial action commencing May 29th which would see more disruption or strikes if this is not resolved. This would see some parents having multiple days disruption over 5 week periods.
“With the first primary strikes in 24 years, multiple failed offers and hundreds and thousands of hours of teaching and learning lost. Teachers, students and parents need this to be resolved.
“The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to assist the Minister of Education by enabling greater flexibility in their bargaining parameters, so this can be resolved.
“The upcoming Budget will likely see funding go towards free counsellors for under 25s, adding some of their promised learning support coordinators and providing Ongoing Resourcing Scheme funding for children with complex needs.
“While this will be welcome it will not deliver on all of Labour’s promises, and is unlikely to resolve some of the core issues in collective bargaining around pay and teacher workload.
“National has committed to reducing teacher ratios which would help reduce workloads. Teachers are also concerned about having adequate classroom release time and resources to implement NCEA changes.
“National left Labour with growing surpluses. But the recent confirmation of the $2 billion fees-free flop and subsequent $200 million underspend has not been received well by some people in the sector.
“The Minister’s first priority should be using this money to ensure there are more teachers in classrooms, instead he’s put it into his ideological vocational education reforms, which are widely opposed and carry the potential for legal action.
“If the Government can’t resolve the dispute then on the eve of the Budget we will have the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions, and strike action looks set to continue. Teachers, students and parents deserve to have this resolved.”
The National Party has announced general support for the direction of the changes to NCEA announced today by the Government, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“There is still a lot of detail to be worked out, like how many standards will exist in each subject and how big they will be; whether some standards will be essential and detail around assessments including how predictable external assessments will be. National will be following closely, but today’s announcement is a step forward.
“National has previously raised serious concerns about the risk of NCEA Level 1 being scrapped and the requirement of potentially a large chunk of NCEA as compulsory project based learning.
“Schools have made clear to me the importance of retaining NCEA Level 1 so we are pleased it will remain an option for schools. We are also pleased that previous proposals around compulsory project based learning have been withdrawn.
“We value the work of the Professional Advisory Group (PAG) and Ministerial Advisory Group. I want to acknowledge Roger Moses for the work he has done to help guide the review into a much better place. I also want to acknowledge Education Minister Chris Hipkins for the opportunity to be briefed and provide feedback to the review.
“The strengthening of numeracy and literacy will make a huge difference in the lives of young people, ensuring they have the skills they need to be successful in society. We know that nationally, expectations can and should be higher, and that schools and students will rise to the challenge.
“We have supported the view that there are too many standards, creating large workloads for teachers and students and jeopardising course coherence. We believe it is important to ensure that changes trade a little bit of NCEA’s vast flexibility for fewer, bigger standards that equip young people with the essential knowledge and concepts from each subject area.
“We also support the changes to scrap NCEA and scholarship fees. We understand the importance of reducing costs to students and parents in our education system where possible. The scrapping of fees will reduce barriers to NCEA and will see more young people have their qualifications recognised.
“National has previously made it clear that we want to work constructively with the Government on the review of NCEA, so we are pleased to provide support for the general direction of these changes. We hope we can provide students, parents and educators with further confidence in our qualifications system.”
Today’s announcement of mega strikes at schools will be tough on students and parents who have already lost days of learning and work, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“I have said before it is crucial the Government provide a circuit breaker to resolve this . Labour created huge expectations with the sector by over promising.
“The mega strike will see the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions.
“Teachers are telling me they don’t believe Education Minister Chris Hipkins and the Prime Minister when they say ‘there is no more money’ given the spending announcements that have been made over the past 12 months.
“National left Labour growing surpluses. Budget 2019 will involve a massive education spend. However if we can’t get teachers in classrooms people will question Labour’s priorities.
“Some of Labour’s big promises include scrapping donations, modernising all school buildings, digital devices, driver licenses and financial literacy for students and learning support coordinators in schools.
“They are a year late on their donations promise and they are only committing to funding this term for a small proportion of learning support coordinators promised.
“We have said before that Labour has favoured tertiary students by using more than $2 billion on a failed fees free policy. With people predicting Tomorrow’s Schools reforms could cost hundreds of millions, tens of millions being spent on education reviews people are saying to me the urgent need is pay and workload.
“Recent announcements around teacher training are less effective if we can’t get pay and workload issues addressed because we won’t have teachers in the classroom. National supports lowering teacher ratios which the Government should move on to help settle the dispute.
“Children’s learning is suffering and people lives are being disrupted. This standoff needs to be resolved. Labour need to prioritise teachers to resolve the dispute.”
The Ministry of Education is taking too long to process applications and payments to Professional Learning Development providers which is an unreasonably long period of time, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“I’m aware of a provider who was owed close to $100,000 by the Ministry of Education. It’s not fair to have people who are struggling as a result and having to max out their credit card to pay their bills. It is unacceptable that it takes a media query to force the Ministry to pay this provider back.
“A Ministry report from March of this year confirms that complaints on issues, time delays and the payment of invoices ‘are universal’. It also shows that there are personnel issues within the Ministry and pressure on the viability and functioning of businesses.
“I will be asking more questions to get to the bottom of the time that they have been taken to process both proposals for professional learning and development and payments for this.
“It is positive that the ministry indicate that they’re working on a platform to speed things up. However, that is cold comfort for the people at the coal face and the schools who are getting delays in their professional development.
“The uncertainty around payments and funding will have a huge impact on businesses that rely on this as their main source of income. This is extremely concerning, it’s important our teachers get timely, professional development and that there is confidence in the market.
“It’s clear the Ministry can’t even get the basics right and we need urgent assurances that these issues are being resolved.”
Today’s passing of the Education Amendment Bill (No2) continues the ideological approach this Government is taking in education, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National previously established Communities of Online Learning to provide more distance learning options in subject areas that may be hard to staff. While we accept the Government didn’t support this particular regime, there is a need to ensure the sustainability of existing virtual learning networks and to grow distance learning.
“The Government’s refusal through the legislative process to provide an alternative regulatory framework for sustainable, quality online learning and content is hugely disappointing. There are a number of rural areas and hard to staff areas where children could’ve benefited from more virtual or online learning opportunities.
“The new Bill changes cohort entry which will see a change to the school starting age for some parents. For decades, kids in New Zealand have been able to start school at the age of five.
“The previous cohort entry regime would have only allowed a small group of children to start school at a maximum of eight weeks before their 5th birthday if a parent chose to do this. National supports what would have likely been a small number of parents having that choice.
“The Bill also enables the Minister to issue Government policy directions relating to the Education Council’s functions. The Minister is reducing the independence of the profession with this change.
“It is deeply ironic and hypocritical for him to have argued so strongly in Opposition for independence and then pass a law change like this. A number of organisations including teacher unions voiced their concerns on this at Select Committee.
“While National opposed the Bill, we did support an SOP to require University name changes to be approved by a resolution in Parliament. Nicola Willis campaigned hard to stop the Victoria University name change and it’s great that the Minister listened to all of those that campaigned against it. It made sense to tidy up the law.
“But the Education Amendment Bill (No2) is an example of this Government on an ideological crusade to get rid of anything brought in by National, rather than putting up a positive agenda of change.”
The Government’s pre-Budget education announcement today is a mixed bag for the sector, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While it is positive Education Minister Chris Hipkins has abandoned his focus on overseas teachers to try and ensure we have New Zealand trained teachers in classrooms, it is pointless if collective bargaining issues can’t be resolved.
“During the election campaign Labour built up high expectations around pay rises and working conditions for teachers. They’re not following through and have found themselves in a gridlock with the profession with primary and secondary strikes imminent.
“The package announced will also fall short of providing more than 8000 extra teachers over the next five years that the Ministry of Education’s own data indicates could be needed in classrooms.
“The PPTA has previously stated that larger class sizes are likely if these teacher shortages can’t be resolved.
“It’s been two years since National announced the development of an Education Workforce Strategy. It’s unbelievable that the Government is half way through their first term and they still don’t have a plan, only the ‘vision statement’ that was released today.
“By not releasing a plan that shows how many teachers are actually needed, the Government can avoid being held to account, flying in the face of its promise to be open and transparent.
“It’s good to see Mr Hipkins has backtracked on his decision to scrap National’s plan to extend voluntary bonding to further hard-to-staff areas, but he has provided little detail and fast-growing places like Auckland need certainty now.
“The Teach First NZ funding is also welcome, but is just an extension of what already exists.
“The reality is the Minister has trumpeted increases in the number of people going into teacher training, however it’s my understanding that the numbers in secondary teacher training in places like Auckland have decreased, not increased.
“Without resolving collective bargaining issues around pay and workload, providing further incentives for teachers who have the left the profession to come back and doing more to urgently increase the number of people in teacher training, we will be thousands of teachers short in classrooms over the coming years.”
A link to the Ministry of Education's new Teacher Demand and Supply Planning Tool can be found here.
The Government is half way through its term and it hasn’t signed off a plan to manage the increasing pressure on Auckland schools, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Auckland is New Zealand’s fastest-growing city and it urgently needs more places available for students.
“Investing in school property to get ahead of growth was a priority for National, particularly in Auckland. Despite the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes, National increased investment in school property to more than $5 billion.
“National delivered 9,000 extra student places by June 2017. We were on track to deliver 17,000 places needed in Auckland by 2019. We knew there was more work to be done, under National in 2017 an Auckland Education Growth Plan to manage adding capacity to Auckland’s schooling network had gone Cabinet.
“We have seen very little progress on future proofing Auckland for the tens of thousands of additional students despite the Minister making comments last year. Figures demonstrate more than 200 schools are currently over capacity in Auckland.
“The Government has not invested to keep up with growth in the last 18 months despite National in 2017 putting aside billions over four years for school infrastructure.
“We know Auckland’s population is continuing to grow and some schools are bursting at the seams.
“Budget 2019 will need to provide a large investment in school infrastructure in places of high growth, like Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, to catch up on this Government’s inaction. Even if there is a large investment the reality is the Government’s spent nearly a year and a half doing very little.
“This week Helensville MP Chris Penk launched a petition for land to be put aside for a new school in his electorate in response to growth and overcrowding in the area. This is just one example where there are schools with growth issues not being addressed. We know there are also major issues in Papamoa.
“Schools, students and their families can’t keep waiting for action while the problem gets worse. The Government needs to get to work and deliver more student places in areas of high growth like Auckland.”
News last week that the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce received over 5000 submissions and pieces of feedback shows the public and educators are very invested in the potential reforms, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National has previously argued for an extension to the deadline for the Taskforce to report back to the Minister. The original timeframe was too short for comprehensive and considered decision making.
“The Minister extended the deadline until the end of June, but I am concerned that it’s still not going to be possible to properly process all of the submissions and do the policy work required to translate the findings into the next iteration of the report. I think the Minister needs to give a further extension of another two months at least.
“It is also my view that the Taskforce needs to provide a summary of all the submissions they received for full transparency.
“One of the biggest criticisms I heard at my public meetings was that there is a lack of detail around the proposals and their cost. The Minister says costings haven’t been done, but the public need to have high-level cost estimates as soon as possible.
“The detail really matters. In all aspects, from suspensions and expulsions to the fundamental delineation of the role of boards versus hubs, far more detail needs to be provided in the next report.
“This is the largest education reform in thirty years and National wants to work constructively with the Government, but in order to get enduring change we need to get the process and detail right.”