National’s primary teacher policy

The new policy announcement made by Simon Bridges at National’s conference in the weekend seems a strange choice – a promise to increase the number of primary school teachers and lower class sizes.

Typically National really struggles with teacher related policies. It is fairly well known that Labour works very closely with teacher unions, and the unions don’t like working with National.

I guess it signifies a change in direction for national under Bridges’ leadership. Press release (edited):


National commits to more primary teachers

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.

“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them.

“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 less Facebook and more face time with teachers.

“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.

“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.

“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”


Labour used to propose reducing class sizes (2014 campaign) and criticised National on class sizes, but I can’t find anything specifically in their education manifesto on this.

Chris Hipkins two years ago (July 2016): Bigger class sizes on the way under National

Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Hekia Parata has proposed that schools should have the ‘flexibility’ to spend money that currently goes towards teaching salaries on other expenses. That can only result in bigger class sizes, a reduction in the number of courses on offer, or both.

“I’m not surprised that Hekia Parata has refused to rule out bigger class sizes. In Western Australia, where she has drawn inspiration for her new model from, at least the Minister for Education was honest enough to admit class sizes going up was a likely consequence of bulk funding.

NZH a year ago (July 2017): Modern classrooms in all schools by 2030: Labour’s election pledge

Ahead of the 2014 election Labour focused on reducing class sizes to one teacher to 26 students at primary and a maximum average class size of 23 at secondary schools. Those specific goals have been dropped.

Hipkins told the Herald the 2014 policy to cut class sizes would have been funded by scrapping National’s flagship education policy, Investing in Educational Success (IES).

“A lot of money is committed now. It remains a goal to reduce class sizes and we will have more to say on that in due course.”

In due course hasn’t arrived yet. National seem to have taken over a Labour policy.

This looks a bit like more Tweedlenats and Tweedlelabour.

6 Comments

  1. David

     /  July 30, 2018

    I would have gone with rolling out Charter Schools given the spectacular results being achieved, it would have been bold and undercut the union loving Hipkins and then when the teachers get their 20% pay rise National can ask what are we getting for that extra investment ? We can get better results for less money in a charter model which is hard to argue against.
    No one cares about class sizes, think back to when you were at school or your kids were and the big thing is how good is the teacher not if there were 25 or 28 kids in the classroom.

    • Blazer

       /  July 30, 2018

      what ‘spectacular results’ would they be then .
      Across the board ‘dpectacular profits’ paid for by taxpayers!

    • duperez

       /  July 30, 2018

      I was going to use the term ‘unmitigated drivel’ but decided to ask questions instead.

      What is the “spectacular results being achieved” you speak of? By what standards do you measure success and by what standard do you judge it to be “spectacular”?

      Are you even half serious in suggesting the teachers will get a 20% pay rise?

      What evidence do you have that “we can get better results for less money in a charter model which is hard to argue against.”

      What do you mean by “better results”?

      Do you seriously think no one cares about class sizes?

      If you do you seriously think no one cares about class sizes why has Simon Bridges gone front and centre with it?

      Actually, now I’ve been right through it, and especially with the last bit re National’s new found love, I reckon you’d have to be taking the piss.

      • Gezza

         /  July 30, 2018

        👍🏼

        Very direct for a change. Lovin the new you. ❤️

      • David

         /  July 30, 2018

        https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2018/05/northland_charter_school_excelling.html

        Just one example. With the nurses getting a huge pay rise teacher unions have made it clear they have high high expectations. If state employed teachers get big pay rises charter schools may not need to match that as they have other attractions to working for them therefore keeping overheads lower, there is more scope for the state to push harder in funding against a private operated school than one in the state system.
        When my kids were at school not one parent ever said having 26 kids instead of 23 in a class was of any concern but there was loads of gossip if your kid ended up in the class with the rubbish teacher and everyone started sharing the Kip McGrath contact details.
        I have no idea why he went with class sizes as they arnt really a NZ issue, its a headline thing rather than an actual issue..I think it ranks almost last on what effects a good outcome for a child.

  1. National’s primary teacher policy — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition