National Standards scrapped with no replacement

The contentious National Standards in education have been scrapped, with no alternative lined up and nothing planned until next September.

RNZ: National standards ditched by government

This year’s achievement rates in the national standards in reading, writing and maths will remain a mystery after the government began the process of ditching the standards.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced schools would not have to report their 2017 results to the Education Ministry and would not be required to use or report on the standards next year.

Mr Hipkins said the government would develop a new system to replace the standards next year in consultation with teachers and principals.

Former Education Minister, National Party MP Nikki Kaye, said the government had taken a “nuclear approach” in moving so quickly to abolish the benchmarks.

“It’s a very sad day for New Zealand. We’ve got the minister making a decision that affects hundreds and thousands of children and their parents without consulting with parents,” she said.

Ms Kaye said the decision would leave a gap in national information about children’s performance at school and parents would not know how their children’s achievement would be reported next year.

But Mr Hipkins said parents and teachers were expecting the announcement.

“I don’t think anyone will be surprised that we are ditching a failed experiment,” he said.

He said schools could continue to use the standards if they wanted to.

So they are not scrapped, they are now just voluntary?

Treasury recommended retaining the standards until replacement ready

A Cabinet paper published today said the new system would measure children’s progress and focus on “key competencies for success in life, learning and work”.

It said in the meantime the government would require schools to report on children’s progress as well as achievement with an emphasis on good quality information from a range of sources.

The paper showed Treasury supported the plan to measure children’s progress against a wider range of subjects, but warned that dumping the standards would create a gap in national information about children’s achievement.

It recommended retaining the standards until the replacement system was ready.

It seems like a rush job to make it look like the Government is active in making changes, but seems a bit half cocked.

The new Opposition

National is beginning a stint in Opposition after nine years in government. This will take some adjusting as the powerful become relatively powerless. They will have a large 56 member caucus, so they could be a force in holding the new government to account, but if not managed well they could factionalise and fight for ascendancy in some sort of new order.

It will be important that they don’t go to negative, and pick their battles wisely, and execute them well – and fairly. A criticism of the outgoing Labour Opposition was their tendency to attack and whinge too much, with ‘barking at every passing car’ becoming a common observation.

Bill English has to adjust from being at the top of the power pyramid, for eight years as Minister of Finance and deputy PM topped by a year as Prime Minister, to battling for attention and relevancy.

English has probably suffered worse before, his disastrous attempt at leading National into the 2002 election. He should have learned lessons from that, both personally and for the party.

Competing leadership ambitions may or may not challenge the party. At this stage English says he has no intention of standing down, a wise choice in the interim at least.

He will be aware of the problems Labour had when Helen Clark announced her exit immediately on losing the election in 2008, and the subsequent floundering of the party for nearly nine years. Just three months ago it looked like Labour could be disintegrating, until Jacinda Ardern took over and dramatically turned things around.

There is no obvious leader-in-waiting in the National caucus.

Steven Joyce has never seemed to have ambitions for the top job (so far) and may be too connected to National’s recent electoral failure in the Northland by-election, and the knarly recent campaign that was probably rescued by English’s performance.

I doubt that the re-confirmed deputy Paula Bennett would be publicly popular enough to rise to the top. She may also find it difficult to fight against some rumours and some dirty sly attacks that have been fomenting mostly outside the public gaze.

I doubt that Judith Collins has anywhere near the caucus or public appeal to make a serious bid.

English may well stay on as leader through to the next election, but he will find it difficult competing if the new generation government led by Ardern is reasonably successful.

At some time, perhaps in about a year, or forced by panic closer to the election if polls go badly for National, someone new will rise to ascendancy and look a good bet. Simon Bridges and Nikki Kaye are mentioned as possibilities but neither look ready for it yet.

One danger is MPs who have been busy as Ministers now with time to foment other ambitions.

There’s no rush for National. I think English is experienced and sensible enough to see out the year and then ease National into Opposition next year, and see how things develop, both with the Government and within his own caucus and party.

It will take some time to see how well National manages it’s time in Opposition. Like the Government in this role they start with a fairly clean slate.

Q+A: education debate – Kaye & Hipkins

This morning on Q+A: Who has the best policies for our students and schools?
Watch our education debate – Political Editor Corin Dann with National’s Nikki Kaye and Labour’s Chris Hipkins.


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.

Q+A repeats Nikki Kaye

Curiously after Nikki Kaye featured in an interview on education on The Nation yesterday she is also the lead interview on Q+A this morning, also talking about education.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor

It looks like National is deliberately trying to distance the party and the Government from the Barclay domination of the last couple of weeks.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye is our lead interview this week. Is our education system doing its best for our kids?

I think Kaye comes across much better as a politician than either Labour’s deputy leader Jacinda Ardern (who Kay beat twice in the Auckland Central electorate), and National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett who interesting National hasn’t put forward for the weekend interviews.

She again sounds very much on top of her portfolio.

Kaye, Kaye, Kaye

Nikki Kaye was first elected to Parliament in 2008, winning what had been the long time (since 1925) Labour seat, Auckland Central. Kaye beat Jacinda Ardern in the next two elections.

While Ardern has risen in the media Kaye has more quietly risen in Government. She received some publicity last year when she had to have treatment for breast cancer.

Yesterday in a Cabinet reshuffle Kay was promoted to be Minister For Education, a difficult portfolio especially for in a National Government, the education unions sometimes look like branch offices of Labour. Any education reform is usually fought against strongly by the teachers alongside Labour.

NZ Herald gave Kaye’s promotion yesterday quite a bit of attention (notably compared to Stuff who went Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee).

Prime Minister Bill English reveals new-look Cabinet

Nikki Kaye and Gerry Brownlee are the big winners in a Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Bill English this afternoon.

As expected, Kaye is the new Education Minister, replacing Hekia Parata.

Given Kaye’s preparation as Associate Minister, and signals (or assumptions) it would have been a shock if she wasn’t promoted to the role.

As Associate Education Minister, Kaye was well placed to take over the education portfolio, English said. She had a particular interest in the subject and brought energy and enthusiasm to the role.

The reshuffle winners

Nikki Kaye (Education Minister)

Has coveted the role of Education Minister since entering Parliament in 2008, and now has it after returning to Parliament this year following breast cancer treatment.

Was the obvious choice given her work as Associate Education Minister since January 2013, which has included overhauling how school property is managed and the construction of new schools and classrooms as Auckland’s population booms.

Has stood at Hekia Parata’s shoulder during recent media standup and now takes over reforms that are the biggest since 1989 and are only partially complete.

If National are re-elected, Kaye will be in charge when debate and opposition really heat up when proposals such as replacing the decile system with targeted funding for “at risk” students come closer to reality in 2020. In the meantime, Labour will go after education and new minister in election year.

NOW: Education Minister, Youth Minister.
WAS: Youth Minister, Associate Education Minister.

Nicholas Jones: Nikki Kaye the right choice for Education Minister but challenges ahead

Any Education Minister can expect to be unpopular with many in the sector, particularly one in a National-led Government.

Kaye is well regarded by those in the sector, but education will be a major battleground in election year and comes with guaranteed controversy and fierce lobbying from education unions.

And the baton being passed from Parata is heavier than normal – this Government is midway through the biggest education reforms since 1989.

While some changes have passed into law many of the biggest are still to come, including replacing the decile funding system with a new model that pays a per student amount depending on how many “at risk” students a school has.

Simon Collins: Kaye: I feel better than I’ve felt in years

New Education Minister Nikki Kaye says she plans to be a “modernising” minister.

Kaye, 37, will be the youngest female Education Minister in New Zealand’s history and says that as part of the “millennial” generation she comes without the ideological “baggage” that previous National Party ministers have brought to the role – especially in their frequent battles with teacher unions.

Instead, she is passionate about new technology, which has already been her responsibility since she became an associate education minister in 2013.

“I think I have already, as associate minister, had quite a focus in terms of modernisation of the portfolio, and you can expect to see more of that in the future,” she said.

“There are obviously some areas I feel very passionately about. The impact of new technology in education is one area, but obviously next week and in the coming weeks you will hear more about my priorities.”

She worked for current Prime Minister Bill English as a policy analyst in 2002, then as a policy officer for two local councils in London, then managed a transport programme for disabled people and worked in information technology at Halifax Bank of Scotland.

She returned to New Zealand in 2007 and won Auckland Central for the National Party for the first time in 2008.

“I think I’m very pragmatic as a person, and I’m very collaborative, I naturally want to work with others to find a solution. All I ask is that we have a respectful relationship where there are no surprises and where we work constructively where we can and disagree where we disagree.”

Kaye took leave from Parliament last September after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she said her doctors had cleared her to return to work. She came third in her division in a recent race running, cycling and swimming around Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands.

“It’s great to get back into exercise,” she said. “I feel better than I’ve felt in years.”

Video: Watch: Nikki Kaye gets education

One Little tax for tourists…

…but it was described as a levy so maybe it doesn’t count.

Three weeks ago Labour said that “Labour would definitely not increase taxes”, but yesterday Andrew Little said that he supported a tourist tax.

Newshub (11 March 2017): Labour has no plans to raise taxes – Andrew Little

Labour’s not planning on going into this year’s election with a policy to raise taxes, says leader Andrew Little.

Speaking to The Nation on Saturday morning, Mr Little said Labour’s spending promises can be paid for out of existing tax revenue.

After the interview, a Labour spokesperson contacted Newshub to clarify Labour would definitely not increase taxes.

But yesterday, in response to a The Nation interview with Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett, Little says that he wants a ‘tourist tax’.

NZ Herald: Labour leader Andrew Little calls for tourist tax

Labour leader Andrew Little wants a “tourist tax” charged at the border to help pay for tourism infrastructure, rejecting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett’s concerns it risked making New Zealand look like a “rip-off.”

Little said a “modest” levy would be ring-fenced to pass on to local councils to use on tourism-related infrastructure.

He rejected Bennett’s suggestion New Zealand risked being seen as a “rip-off” if it added too many extra costs. “We are in desperate need of new infrastructure. A reasonable sum paid at the border is a more efficient way of getting infrastructure built and making sure tourists don’t s*** all over our free camping areas and our beaches.”

Little said it would be simple to add the levy – since 2015 there has been a levy of about $22 to pay for border control added to the cost of a ticket. In its first five months, that had generated $27.72 million – well above the forecast income of $20.22 million.

It would be simple for a Government to add a lot little levies.

Little needs to be careful what he proposes and supports before thinking it through in relation to commitments made.

 

“People love Jacinda” and headline hacks

Praise piled on think for Jacinda Ardern:

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do.

I can see what National was trying to do – get Ardern’s equal, Kaye, to lead the attack.

It is all routine attack politics but it may well be failing. It has let Ardern grab the moral high ground which fits with her brand of a “new style of politics”.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

You might think that can from The Standard or Chris Trotter or Martyn Bradbury, or from Labour Party PR, but no, it is from an ‘opinion’ piece of journalist Patrick Gower.

Major media (not just Gower) seem to be trying to talk Ardern up into some sort of phenomenon.

Is Arderrn an equal of Nikki Kaye? Kaye has beaten Ardern twice in what had been a safe Labour seat, Auckland Central.

The above quotes are cherry picked but there is more context, trying to portray National as panicked in fear of the threat of Ardern – something that has been claimed at The Standard  see Nats’ attack on Ardern backfires.

The way National has revved up its attack machine to take on Jacinda Ardern shows just how worried they are.

But what should be more worrying for National is that the attacks are backfiring and may be empowering Brand Ardern rather than weakening it.

First, Nikki Kaye had a go in Parliament saying Ardern was all show and no substance.

Then Paula Bennett tried to double-team Ardern on the AM Show this morning by saying she was “condescending” in her response to Kaye’s condescending attacks – which only served to make Bennett look condescending.

It is all a tactic of course. It shows us National is worried about Jacinda. And it makes them look more than a little desperate.

I’ve been around Parliament for a while and the “attack” by Kaye on Ardern wasn’t really up to much in my view – Labour called John Key out in a similar way for years for being all photo ops and no substance.

But it was the way Ardern’s supporters leapt to her defence which shows she potentially has that untouchable aura that National should recognise all too well – because John Key had the very same thing.

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do. People loved John Key. Labour couldn’t understand it – but they did.

For years Labour and the left attacked John Key and it only made him stronger.

Now National faces the danger that its attacks on Ardern will only make her stronger.

It may just be that Brand Jacinda is the same as Brand Key – no wonder National is so panicked.

One thing about them is the same – their first names begin with ‘J’.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

Is Ardern really as big a threat to National as John Key was to Labour?

Key was elected at his first attempt (to a safe Helensville seat) in 2002. Four years later he became Leader of the Opposition, and in another two years in 2008 election he led National to victory.

Ardern lost her first election (in Waikato) in 2008, then lost two elections to Kaye in 2011 and 2014 but got in each time on Labour’s list. After eight years in Parliament she was appointed Labour’s deputy leader.

Do National fear the rise of Ardern? I’m sure they are wary of what effect she may have in this year’s election.

It’s not unusual for parties to criticise opponents, often far more than Kaye and Bennett have done this week.

Bennett herself has often been attacked and criticised, in part because she has been suggested as a possible future leader and Prime Minister.

Judith Collins has also been hammered by Labour – Phil Goff travelled to China to try to find dirt to use against her, and she started defamation proceedings against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little in 2012 – see Judith Collins defamation case settled.

Collins had been seen as a prospective leader for National.

So the reaction against National by some political opponents, saying a bit of criticism in Parliament is unfair and panicky, should be viewed with a bit of ‘same old politics’ in a relatively mild way.

But why are journalists like Gower supporting the ‘poor Jacinda, Jacinda is great!’ meme?

It may be panic on their part – panic that Bill English and Andrew Little will be too boring for them, another meme some of the media keep pushing.

Perhaps that’s why they have chosen to promote Ardern – not so much as a politician but as a celebrity.

New Zealand politics is served poorly by headline hacks who confuse journalism with political activism.

Kaye versus Ardern

If Jacinda Ardern thought she wouldn’t have to contend with Nikki Kay again after she moved to the Mt Albert electorate – they competed for Auckland Central for the last two elections – she was mistaken.

Today in Parliament Kaye took a major swipe at Ardern in the General Debate.

I think the phrase that I would give New Zealanders is: you have got one party of substance, of significant initiatives delivering for New Zealand, compared with a superficial cosmetic facelift. I want to talk about the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

We lost Annette King. I want to acknowledge Annette King. She has been a brilliant member of Parliament. She is someone who has huge respect across the House. And we got Jacinda Ardern.

Now, I have been based in Auckland Central for 8 years. I struggle to name anything that Jacinda has done.

What I can say is that a great example is when Kevin Hague and I developed an adoption law reform bill. We spent a year on that bill; we put it in the ballot.

Jacinda Ardern did a one-line bill telling the Law Commission to write the law for her.

On her first day in the job as deputy leader, on one of the biggest issues confronting our generation, Generation X and Generation Y—on the issue of superannuation affordability—where was she?

She had made a whole lot of statements previously about the importance of raising the age, and Jacinda Ardern was nowhere to be seen. She had cut and run on the biggest issue facing our generation, and that is another example of what is a whole lot of photo ops—yes, she will be across every billboard, but she absolutely failed our generation on her first day on the job.

It looks like National have decided to try and unsettle Ardern, who may have thought everything was smoothly going to plan. Until today.

Kay continued later in her speech.

This is a Labour Party that thinks the only way that it can get into Government is to totally get rid of all of its policies and to make sure that has got some nice fancy new billboards and some photo ops—compared with a Government that is prepared to make the hard decisions, that is investing in infrastructure, and that is investing more than a third more in schools.

And again:

You have got significant investments happening across social housing, and you have got a Labour Party—the main Opposition—that thinks the way that it can win is to have no policy, to have a superficial facelift, and to have another person on the billboards.

I do want to acknowledge that this election will be fought on some of the big issues for Generation X and Generation Y, and in my view it is this side of the House that is confronting those issues, and that side that is failing.

Ardern wasn’t present but responded to media later.

NZ Herald: Gloves off: National MPs target Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in series of attacks

Ardern was not in the debating chamber at the time, but said she saw the debate on television.

She said her and Kaye had made an agreement when they ran against each in Auckland Central to only talk about issues and not make personal attacks.

“I’ve stuck to that,” Ardern said.

Newshub: Nikki Kaye launches war of words on Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern was surprised at the attack, and told Newshub “It’s certainly not a style of politics I’ve seen her use before”.

“Nikki and I have run against each other in Auckland Central for a number of years and usually pretty much stuck to the issues and avoided making it personal. I’m going to stick to that.”

“I’m going to stick with the way I like to do politics, and it’s making sure that you keep away from making it too personal. But each to their own.”

Electorate contests are more one to one and personal, especially when candidates campaign together as Ardern did with Green MY Julie Anne Genter in Mt Albert.

But Ardern should have been aware that by stepping up into a deputy leadership role, and promoting herself as the new face of the party, she was getting into a highly competitive high stakes level of politics.

Voters look for leaders who look like they can lead, not just look and be nice.

Kaye is stepping up to higher levels of responsibility as a Minister, and also as a party representative.

Ardern may need to toughen up and shape up.

Nikki Kaye

National MP and Minister Nikki Kaye announced via twitter and Facebook this morning that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will take leave of absence from her portfolios.

On Friday I was told that I have breast cancer. It was devastating news for me and my family.

Having the opportunity to serve NZ as the MP for Auckland central and a cabinet minister continues to be a huge privilege. I have always worked hard and given everything I have to both roles. I told the PM on Friday and I took a leave of absence from my ministerial portfolios. The PM has appointed acting ministers to cover my portfolios.

I will also be putting plans in place to ensure my electorate office has additional support during this time to ensure my constituents continue to get good support with their personal issues, policy ideas or queries. I am fortunate to have wonderful hardworking staff and National party colleagues who are helping ensure this support is there for my constituents.

I feel so lucky to have such an amazing family and group of friends who are giving me buckets of love and have been so strong helping me work through this. I also want to acknowledge the PM who has been hugely caring and supportive.

During this time I would be really grateful to have a bit of space and privacy while I get treatment and focus on getting well.

This is very sad news.

However Kaye happens to be just one person diagnosed with cancer. There are around 600 deaths a year from this form of cancer, although it isn’t common under 50 – Kaye is one of the younger MPs at 36 years old. Depending on the type survival rates are improving. Being younger gives her a better chance of survival.

Website: Breast Cancer Foundation