New year, new opportunities
As we begin the year with a new Prime Minister, a revised Cabinet, and an upcoming General Election, it is clear that 2017 will be politically significant for New Zealand. The education portfolio is among those facing major changes, with Nikki Kaye tipped to take the reins as Education Minister as current Minister Hekia Parata bows out from politics this year.
What would a change of government bring to New Zealand education? We asked political and sector leaders for their thoughts. Many things emerged from their answers: calls for broadening the curriculum; arguments for abolishing charter schools – and for keeping them; calls to increase teacher professional development, and for increasing resourcing for early childhood services. It’s an interesting read.
Labour’s Chris Hipkins says “the whole system is creaking under the strain of under-funding” and promises to ensure “schools, early childhood education services and tertiary providers get the funding they need to deliver the quality education all New Zealanders deserve”. This includes funding schools so that parental donations aren’t required and introducing three years of fee-free post-school education. This is a pretty big call, and will be difficult for Labour to make good on.
While I care deeply about quality state education, as a New Zealander who leads a full and varied life, I feel nervous about which areas of the Budget will have to suffer to make a funding increase a reality. But I applaud the gutsy pledge, and agree that funding levels are the key issue when it comes to New Zealand education.
Time will tell how things play out. For the moment, politics must take a back seat as teachers brush the sand from their shoes, take deep breaths and get ready for another action-packed school year. For them, the key areas of focus now are lesson plans, classroom set-ups and getting to know new classes of kids. For students and their families these are stationery lists, uniforms, lunch boxes and school bags. Policies and politics will continue to influence and interest educators but for now, a new school year is upon us.
New year, new Education Review! We are delighted to refresh our brand and focus for 2017. Each issue will home in on the topics that are front and centre for the sector, helping to bring more topical and relevant content to our readers.
Editor, Jude Barback