Greens under fire for $11m private school funding

A curious change has been noticed to a Green farm rule:

Private schools shall never be funded. unless it’s a Green school


A Beehive announcement by Green leader James Shaw: Taranaki school construction project to create jobs

Green School New Zealand will be supported with $11.7 million from the $3 billion set aside by the Government for infrastructure in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

“This project will create hundreds of quality jobs, meaning more people can continue to provide for their families whilst we weather the economic storm of the pandemic crisis. These jobs will provide a good day’s pay, doing meaningful work, building a better future for Taranaki.

“Securing over 200 jobs will help direct more money into the parts of the economy where most people earn their livelihood. These are the parts of the economy that are sustained when public investment is directed at getting people into work and earning money that they then spend in their local communities,” James Shaw said.

The ‘shovel-ready’ project will enable Green School to expand its student roll from 120 students to 250. It is estimated that a roll of 250 students will contribute $43 million each year for the local economy.

RNZ: Anger at funding for Taranaki Green School

The Educational Institute says teachers are fuming at Green Party co-leader James Shaw’s announcement of an 11.7 million dollar funding package for in a private school in Taranaki.

Shaw says the ‘shovel ready’ project at the Green School in Oakura is part of the Covid-19 economic response and will secure 200 jobs.

The union’s national secretary, Paul Goulter told our Taranaki Whanganui reporter Robin Martin the investment flies in the face of Green Party policy.

Prominent in the Green Party Education Policy:

  • Public funding for private schools should be phased out and transferred to public schools.
  • Public-private partnerships should not be used for building or running schools.

No funding of private schools has been longstanding Green policy.

Ex Green MP Sue Bradford:

Ex Green candidate John Hart:

Ex Green MP Catherine Delahunty:

Green candidate Ricardo Mendez:

Ex Green Party candidate Jack McDonald:

RNZ: Critics pile on Green private school funding boost

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is distancing himself from an $11.7 million boost for a Taranaki private school after the National Party panned the taxpayer funding as “rank hypocrisy”.

The move has attracted ire from numerous quarters, including the oppositionschool principals, unions, and from within the Greens’ own ranks.

Responding to reporters at Parliament, Hipkins ducked responsibility, stressing that the money did not come out of the education funding pool.

“It wasn’t considered through the usual education capital spend route. It was considered as a shovel-ready project.”

Hipkins deferred questions to the Ministers responsible and noted that the Green Party had advocated “quite strongly” for the funding.

“It was one of their wins, if you like, out of the shovel-ready project area,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a project that I would’ve prioritised.”

Stuff: Green members demand ‘please explain’ for $11.7m private school funding 

James Shaw calls meeting with Green members to explain private school funding decision

Green party co-leader James Shaw has been asked by party members to explain why his name appeared on a press release announcing $11.7 million of public funding for a private school.

“It’s not perfect but if you’re trying to achieve a number of objectives it achieves a number of those: it creates a number of jobs in the region, it supports the green building industry, and it’s in Taranaki, the region we’re trying to move on from oil and gas,” Shaw said.

Last night, Policy and Party co-conveners – the part of the Green Party that looks after the wider membership – requested “information and clarification” from the caucus over how the project got approval

Wiremu Winitana, one of the party’s co-convenors, told an online forum that the co-leaders, Shaw and Marama Davidson had been asked to explain and clarify the situation.

“We are inclined to agree… that this is against our policy,” Winitana said.

Shaw will front a Zoom with co-leader Marama Davidson Friday night to explain the decision to members.

An email to members said that the party understood they were feeling “frustrated or disappointed,” by the decision to grant the school funding.

That email would appear to have gone to party members only and not to the wider contact list.

The funding decision probably can’t be changed, so all Shaw can do is try to keep explaining. He has done a poor job of that so far.

Coming up to an election campaign this is poor timing for this sort of fundamental policy hypocrisy. Greens have been polling close to the 5% MMP threshold and are risk of being dumped from Parliament, especially with this sort of policy embarrassment.

National’s education policy

National launched their campaign today and also announced their education policy.

$379m package to prepare our children for the future

National will provide New Zealand’s young people with the skills and language training to succeed in a globally-connected, high-tech world, Prime Minister and National Party Leader Bill English says.

The next National-led Government will invest $379 million to provide school students with stronger maths, technology and languages skills, as well as updating National Standards to give parents and teachers better information about how students are performing and where they need more support.

“Now that the government books are in surplus, we want to invest more to help our young people embrace the tremendous opportunities New Zealand has through the next fifty years,” Mr English says.

“Opportunities from new technology, new ideas and ways of working, and stronger international connections.

“Nothing can replace the thousands of motivated, professional teachers. But we can improve the tools they use and the support we give them to lift educational standards.”

National will roll out a four-point education package to:

  • Provide every primary school student the opportunity to learn a second language
  • Improve the maths skills of primary school students by upskilling teachers, providing additional classroom resources like digital apps, and delivering intensive support for students who need it
  • Create Digital Academies and Digital Internships to give year 12 and 13 students practical, work-based learning opportunities that are a springboard into careers in the IT sector
  • Extend National Standards to provide much more detailed information about how our kids are progressing right throughout the year – information that can be accessed immediately online by children and their parents

“National Standards provides a valuable snap-shot of how your child has performed across the year,” Mr English says.

“National Standards Plus will build on this by allowing you to track your child’s progress in more detail, online, as it happens.

“I want our children to be confident about their future, open to the world and ambitious for themselves and for our country.

“Our teachers and schools work so hard to create opportunities for our children and these measures will further help more of our kids reach their potential,” Mr English says.

The new funding is made up of $354 million of ongoing funding over four years, plus a $25 million one-off investment in systems to extend National Standards.

Nikki Kaye is Minister of Education so is likely to have played a part in this, probably an attempt to show that National can come up with innovation from relatively young female MPs to compete or contrast with Ardern.

Patrick Gower thinks this is a good move: Bill English goes with blinder idea rather than bribe

Bill English has played a blinder by coming up with a policy to give all Kiwi kids the chance to learn a second language.

Who saw it coming? It is original, it is ambitious, it is symbolic – and at $160 million it doesn’t cost that much.

It is not compulsory – kids can learn Te Reo, French or Mandarin if they want under National’s policy.

It will be very appealing to parents – and as a pitch to those crucial centre  voters, it is a blinder of an idea.

It is there to show that Bill English is not just about the economy and that he is not out of ideas.

It fits with National’s brand that it is open to the world.

Coupled with National’s other plans to enhance digital learning and improve National Standards it creates a good wedge with Labour, which announced its education policy weeks ago under Andrew Little to little fanfare. Labour is also tied to the unions when it comes to policy and wants to scrap National Standards.

So instead of a bribe it is a blinder of an idea by Bill English.

Bold education policy is certainly outside the normal big ideas box from National. Whether it will appeal to voters or not is another story, and we won’t know the end of the story for another month or so.

Labour: need reading recovery

Today David Shearer is announcing Labour education policy including on reading recovery:

Reading Recovery for all schools

The Labour Party is committing to roll out Reading Recovery to all schools.

Currently only two out of three schools offer the New Zealand-developed scheme, which has an 80 per cent success rate of lifting kids who fall behind in reading.  Just 59 per cent of low decile schools have Reading Recovery.

“Children who don’t learn to read are generally the ones who fall through the cracks and subsequently drop out of school. We can help those children, and we should.

“Having Reading Recovery in every school will mean all our kids will have the best chance to make the most of their education.

I didn’t realise it wasn’t available in all schools already, reading is the most funadamental of skills we should surely be ensuring all kids are effectively educated in.

There’s a bit of political palaver in his announcement but it links to a  factsheet gives a good overview including costings – an additional $20-40 million. That doesn’t seem much to address one of the most basic deficiencies in our education of children.

Here is the full factsheet:

Investing in Reading Recovery

The Issue
•     One in 12 New Zealand 9 year-olds don’t meet the lowest international benchmark for reading (as set by PIRLS).
•     This is worse than the international average of 1 in 17, with much worse rates for Māori and Pasifika students from poor schools, where 1 in 5 children don’t meet the benchmark. These low reading rates contribute to our long tail of underachievement.

Current Situation
•     The international ‘gold standard’ for helping children who fall behind in reading is Reading Recovery, developed right here in New Zealand by Marie Clay in the 1970s.
•     Yet Reading Recovery is not necessarily available to some of those who would most benefit from it in New Zealand.
•     It is actually offered in fewer poor schools than wealthier schools. Only 59% of low-decile schools have Reading Recovery compared with 73% of high-decile schools.
•     Māori students and Pasifika students were less likely to have Reading Recovery available in their school.
•     This is primarily a funding issue. The Ministry of Education only pays for half of the cost of Reading Recovery. Schools need to find the other half from their own budgets.
•     Poorer schools find it difficult to provide enough Reading Recovery places to meet student need, resulting in waiting lists or students missing out altogether.
•     Some schools therefore opt for other interventions, which cost less per student. But most principals in schools not offering Reading Recovery would do so if they could.
•     More needs to be done if we are to make this a genuine option for every school.

Labour’s Proposal
•     Labour intends to remove the barriers preventing schools – including many of those who need it the most – from offering Reading Recovery.
•     We will work with schools to determine a fair proportion of direct Ministry funding so all schools will be able to afford to offer Reading Recovery to all students who need it.
•     We want to lift the proportion of 6-year olds receiving Reading Recovery from 14% at present to at least 20% (the proportion that the programme has historically targeted and the estimated need).
•     This would suggest an additional 5,000 children a year benefiting from Reading Recovery each year, over and above the 11,000 currently receiving it.
•     We will also develop a parallel ‘maths recovery’ intervention, so that children struggling with basic numeracy skills can receive one-on-one assistance by age 7 or 8.

The Benefits
•     80% of the students who left Reading Recovery during 2010 had reached the reading level of their classroom peers.
•     A New Zealand Council for Educational Research evaluation found that Reading Recovery was effective for different students and in a range of contexts, with those who started off furthest behind making the greatest gains.

Cost
•     Labour’s proposal would lift the total cost of Reading Recovery to the education system from about $40 million to an estimated $60 million. It is likely that this additional $20 million would be met through direct government funding.
•     In addition, we will investigate whether some of the $20 million currently shared amongst schools should be funded directly by government.

Authorised by David Shearer, Parliament Buildings, Wellington